American CRM expos have recently been languishing in the doldrums of a slow economy and a saturated marketplace. Penton Media, the giant B2B content and events producer that organizes the Internet World shows, has shifted its eCRM expo from Chicago in July to New York in October. Meanwhile, the Advanstar CRM Solutions show in New York a few months back was just a few tumbleweeds shy of a ghost town.
It's a different story across the pond, however, if the recent CRM 2001 event is any indication. Held by UK-based Business Intelligence (www.business-intelligence.co.uk) during an unusually mild May week at west London's Olympia conference center, the show's buzz could be heard from the Thames to the Tower of London. According to the show's organizers, about 3,500 attendees preregistered for the event, and more than 50 vendors packed into two floors of the conference center. In short, it reminded me of the good ol' days of CRM shows, when glitzy booths and squishy-ball give-aways ruled the land.
I spoke to the business development director for an Irish software company at his booth, and the smile on his face was a kilometer wide. The show was almost twice as big as last year's, he crowed, and he'd already collected 50 or 60 leads on the first day.
So why the booming interest in CRM in the UK? The most important reason may be that the British economy isn't nearly as deep in the toilet as ours. Sir Edward George, governor of the Bank of England, predicted in late May that the U.S. economy will not pull out of its tailspin until next year. Meanwhile, the British government recently announced that growth in the first quarter of 2001 was higher than previously thought: GDP increased 0.4 percent and domestic demand rose 0.8 percent.
According to Nick Hewson, principal of Hewson Consulting, a London-based CRM research firm, Britain's relatively strong economy gives solution shoppers far more leeway. "The strength in demand of this market is quite strong," he said. "There hasn't been much backing off. There's been a collective decision to keep going, but more carefully."
Perhaps taking a clue from their previously free-spending American cousins, the British are more focused than ever on the need to design plans for measuring the return on investment (ROI) of CRM solutions. Late last year Hewson produced a CD-ROM in conjunction with Microsoft and Pivotal highlighting ROI issues. "In January we couldn't ship enough of them, or hold enough seminars on ROI," Hewson added. "People are being much more selective."
To the cynics, however, the popularity of this CRM tradeshow signals a more amorphous trend: confused end-users searching for so-called solutions proffered by software vendors. Charlie Shaw, managing director of Advantage Business Systems, Europe's largest Microsoft Great Plains integrator, eyed the hordes of CRM 2001 attendees and surmised: "These people still don't know what they want to do because they don't understand what CRM is."
Partnerships & Alliances
• Quadstone, a New York provider of predictive marketing software and services, has joined the Siebel Alliance Program as a software partner. Quadstone will integrate its best-of-breed predictive analytics software with Siebel's eBusiness solution. The integrated solution generates customer selections, rules, scores and segments using Quadstone's predictive marketing solutions and using sales, service and marketing data captured by Siebel eBusiness Applications.
• Collaborative commerce provider Allegis, of San Francisco, and San Diego-based Silicon Space, an e-business consulting firm, have partnered to provide partner relationship management (PRM) solutions to Global 2000 companies. The solutions will enable customers to increase revenues and partner loyalty, rapidly integrate outside selling partners into their overall corporate strategy and reduce operating expenses. The companies will work together to combine the Allegis eBusiness Suite of PRM solutions with the consulting services offered by Silicon Space in order to deliver solutions for enterprises across a variety of industries. Silicon Space will provide strategy, as well as technology and software integration services. The companies will also develop joint marketing, sales and consulting capabilities.
• The Royal Bank of Scotland Group in London has chosen Chordiant Software, of Cupertino, Calif., for its platform for multichannel CRM. The Royal Bank of Scotland Group will combine the Chordiant platform with its PrimeResponse campaign management application already in use to develop more customized profiles. The platform includes Unified Rules, which personalizes customer interactions based on customer information; Unified Workflow, which defines and executes workflow processes to route customer requests; Knowledge System, which manages knowledge discovery and learning processes; and Marketing Optimizer, which uses analytics to impact multiple campaigns.
• China Mobile, a wireless carrier in China, has awarded Nortel Networks new contracts estimated to be worth more than $105 million for expansions of GSM digital cellular networks in Hebei, Anhui and Guizhou provinces. Nortel will implement the seventh expansion of the province's GSM 900/1800 dual-band digital cellular network, increasing subscriber capacity from one million to five million. The networks are scheduled to be in commercial service by September.
• British Telecom says it will pull out of the Japanese market in an effort to reduce its debt of £31 billion ($43 billion U.S.). BT says it will sell its stake in Japan Telecom and wireless operation J-Phone. This comes less than a week after BT's chairman Sir Iain Vallance announced his resignation. Rival Vodafone has since bought a 10 percent share of Japan Telecom from AT&T for £983,534,900 ($1.35 billion U.S.) in cash. If the deal with BT happens, Vodafone's stake in Japan Telecom will increase to 45 percent.
Mergers & Acquisitions
• Waldorf, Germany-based SAP and Infinite Data structures, of Lawrenceville, N.J., have signed an agreement for SAP to acquire intellectual property, software, customer relationships and solutions from Infinite Data structures. SAP is a provider of e-business software solutions; Infinite Data structures is a provider of trade relationship management software for the life sciences and consumer products industries. Financial terms were not disclosed.
• Cupertino, Calif.-based Chordiant, a developer of a customer interaction platform for enterprise-wide integration, has completed its acquisition of PrimeResponse, a provider of a marketing suite. The combined company will be called Chordiant Software. Sam Spadafora and Stephen Kelly will continue as chairman and CEO and president and chief operations officer of Chordiant. William Ford, a general partner of General Atlantic Partners, and a former director of PrimeResponse, will become a member of Chordiant's board of directors.
• Simstar Internet Solutions, a provider of marketing-focused e-business solutions to the healthcare industry, has, as of June 8, moved from its Princeton, N.J.-based headquarters to the Carnegie Center on Route 1 in Princeton. The company will move into a 30,000- square-foot space, nearly tripling the size of its current building. In the past year, Simstar has increased the number of its staff by more than 50 percent to more than 100 employees. Simstar also recently announced a 126 percent growth in revenue for 2000 over fiscal year 1999.
• Quaero, a provider of marketing automation and analytic software, has opened offices in Research Triangle Park, N.C. Having a local presence will enable Quaero to fulfill its growth initiatives and better meet its clients' CRM needs. Gayle Davey, vice president of client services and head of Quaero's CRM programs group, will join Bruce Capehart, vice president of client services, in anchoring the RTP office. Quaero can be reached in Research Triangle Park at 2530 Meridian Parkway, 3rd Floor, Durham, NC 27709; (919) 806-4375.
People & Promotions
• San Francisco-based TeaLeaf Technology, a provider of e-business software, has named Frank Vaculin its CEO. Vaculin is tasked with building and executing a long-term business model around the company's TeaCommerce solution. Former TeaLeaf CEO Robert Wenig retains his position as chairman and will assume responsibilities as chief technology officer. Vaculin previously worked as executive vice president for Ask Jeeves' Business Solutions. Prior to Ask Jeeves, he held senior operations, marketing and sales management positions at a variety of companies, including Borland International, Electronics for Imaging (EFI) and Software Publishing.