Tools and applications in Applix Enterprise 7.0 are based on the concept of real-time decision support: putting information into the hands of people who want to interact effectively with customers. Working with them is a bit like going on a treasure hunt: This is a big program, with lots of features. While it may take a little effort to find all of these tools and applications, the hunt is worth the effort. Lots of programs store as much information, but Applix is one of the few that also does a great job of delivering useful information back out.
Since its founding in 1983 to develop software applications for UNIX, Applix has brought a wide variety of applications to the CRM market. In 1986, the company introduced Alis, its first office-automation product. In 1993, Applix introduced its ApplixWare real-time Decision Support Software product family. In 1996, the company introduced the Applix Anyware product line, which provides ApplixWare capabilities in a thin-client form across the Internet or an intranet. Certified 100 percent Java by Sun Microsystems, Applix Anyware allows users to access any of the Applix product capabilities via browser-based clients, regardless of platform or location. The company has since expanded its family of Customer Interaction Software with the November 1997 launch of Applix Enterprise 7.0. Applix has also entered the Decision Support market with its TM1 add-on.
The Applix Contact Management screen provides all contact-related information on a single screen. When ancillary information such as account, location or purchase data is needed, you can easily launch with a double-click into the appropriate (modal) form. Quick keys with typical ALT+ commands and logically located buttons make common tasks like adding new diary entries fast and easy.
Entering contact information is a simple process-common fields can be selected from custom pick lists-and once contacts are entered, records and notes can be edited or deleted. Applix also includes powerful search and look-up capabilities.
Applix makes it easy to take action with your contacts-almost every task can be initiated through a simple button click on the contact screen. Using its own Calendar system that works directly with Applix Workflow triggers, Applix Enterprise does a nice job of all appointment-management tasks, though it offers limited calendar printing options. Applix provides solid group scheduling capabilities as well as a strong interface with Microsoft Outlook.
Applix has rich opportunity management and sales forecasting capabilities. The easily customized Action Plans lets you define an automated process or sales methodology to encourage consistent sales coverage. Sales management can easily monitor individual or team efforts by measures such as sales revenue forecast (and actual revenue), marketing effectiveness and closure rate per team/product/region/salesperson. This information may come directly from preconfigured charts or customized ad hoc queries. The Applix Business Intelligence engine (OLAP) lets you create complex forecasting models and "what if" scenarios that support tactical or strategic decisions.
The program also has a powerful, wizardlike workflow engine that lets you dynamically add or update a sales territory. Once territory changes are put in place, salespeople are automatically notified to ensure proper communication with customers.
Applix Sales automatically notifies salespeople when they need to perform a particular task. However, the program fails to deliver on the proactive action plans I look for to provide real sales impact. Many of the pieces are there, but the Applix approach to action plans still results in an automated to-do list generator for the sales team. To provide optimal sales impact, I expect the program to automatically carry out tasks, like sending an appropriate e-mail message.
Ease of Use
Applix Enterprise mirrors the look and feel of Windows 95, closely following standard colors and button shapes. Most screens have OK and CANCEL buttons, plus tab-controls and data-grids that act as embedded spreadsheets. The command structure and error handling capabilities comply with basic Windows 95 standards. Applix Enterprise has full context-sensitive help in the form of HTML files. However, the program makes no use of wizard technology. Though easy to use, it will take you a while to remember every tab or form you need to use to access important bits of information.
Applix provides the flexibility to design a system that precisely meets your own unique requirements. The program is written in a combination of C++, Visual Basic and Java. The source code is not available. However, Applix can provide source code in an escrow account for those strategic customers who make the request. Applix supports Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server at the server and Microsoft Access for remote users.
Since the database setup is stored as meta-data in the DBMS, Applix supports unlimited user-defined fields. New tables may be easily added. Applix Enterprise includes a design toolkit called the Applix Enterprise Solution Platform (ESP), which consists of the Application Design Center and the Forms Editor. These tools enable a database administrator to quickly incorporate new functionality into your Applix system.
The Forms Editor allows for multifield drag and drop, font characteristics, tab controls and quick-key definitions. It also offers data-grid inserts, graphic inserts, automatic form inserts and buttons to launch external applications or intra-Applix functions.
The Bottom Line
Applix is one of the few programs to provide a deep level of customization. Whether it is its Executive Information Center, providing managers with a quick and easy way to stay on top of their departments' work, or the TM1 OLAP capability, Applix delivers the information you need to make effective decisions. Learn to use the workflow capabilities and you will surely take better care of your customers.
At a Glance
112, Turnpike Road, Westboro, MA 01581
Pricing: The typical price ranges from $45,000 for a 5-user system all the way up to $915,000 for a 500-user system.
Hit or Miss?
Contact Management: 3
Sales Management: 3
Sales Impact: 2
Ease of Use: 2