Quick Hits
CRM news from around the industry
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Minding the store: Sometimes managing the online company store can be more than you bargained for.

A new company called BrandLocker, a subsidiary of branded merchandise veteran Russell Specialties, says it can diminish some of the headaches associated with online store merchandising. BrandLocker designs, maintains and stocks online branded customized merchandise stores. The company claims it can reduce the labor and costs identified with in-house management. "It allows them to do what they're supposed to do," says Russ Polinski, president of BrandLocker.

BrandLocker meets with each client to select the featured merchandise. Then BrandLocker designs and builds a Web site around each store, and provides the online store and service at no charge. The service includes consulting on merchandise selection, logo design, inventory acquisition and management, as well as warehousing, packing and shipping.

John Parsley, vice president of sales and central director of San Francisco-based Private Mortgage Insurance Company, which provides mortgage guarantee insurance to lenders and investors who make mortgage loans, recently signed on with BrandLocker.

PMI wants the site designer and supplier to manage its online company store, which will offer items such as pens, notepads, golf balls and sports wear that salespeople may want to provide to clients. Parsley says it's too early to see results, but believes BrandLocker will increase efficiencies at PMI.

"We're really excited about the opportunity to use this new value-added service," Parsley says. "I'm expecting it to save us time, energy and money."

He says before BrandLocker, if a sales agent wanted to add a product to the company brochure, the printer created a new brochure, which cost time and money. Now, if PMI wants to add a product, BrandLocker simply adds it to the Web site.

Managing an online store can be a big job, but according to Polinski, BrandLocker alleviates these responsibilities. "We manage everything and make sure they're not out of stock." - -Mila D'Antonio

People & Promotions

Unica Consulting Services, a provider of analytical CRM and cross-channel marketing automation solutions, has appointed two CRM professionals. Richard Hale, former Epsilon vice president of consulting services, was named vice president of consulting services for Unica.

Susan Murray, previously a senior manager at Ernst & Young's National Consulting Practice, will now serve as senior director of  consulting services.

FirePond, a provider of integrated e-business solutions for multi-channel selling, has appointed Randy Harvey to senior vice president, product development. Harvey will lead the planning and development for the FirePond Application Suite, focused on furthering the acceptance of FirePond technology in the automotive/manufacturing, financial services/insurance and high technology/telecommunications markets. He comes from Vignette were he served as vice president, engineering, at the recently acquired OnDisplay, focusing on product development of the electronic commerce line.

MarketSoft, a provider of B2B e-marketing solutions, has elected David Orfao, president and CEO of Allaire, to its board of directors; and Michael Kozub has joined MarketSoft as vice president and chief marketing officer. Prior to joining Allaire, Orfao was senior vice president of worldwide sales, marketing and services at SQA Services. Before that, he was senior vice president of worldwide service, support and channel marketing, Claris. Orfao also served as a member of the executive management team at Frame Technology. Prior to Frame, he led sales organizations at Ashton-Tate and Lotus.

Kozub will lead MarketSoft's marketing, product management and business development efforts. Kozub most recently served as executive vice president of marketing, sales and corporate development at RealAge.com, a permission-based Internet marketing company. Prior to RealAge, he was president and CEO of a midsize consumer marketer. He also spent four years in a variety of marketing executive positions.

Witness Systems, a provider of multimedia recording, analysis and e-learning solutions for the contact center market, has elected Pete Sinisgalli, president and COO of CheckFree, to its board of directors; and Loren Wimpfheimer as vice president of strategic development and general counsel. Before joining CheckFree, a provider of financial electronic commerce software and services, Sinisgalli served as executive vice president and CFO at Dun & Bradsteet Software. Prior to that, he was senior vice president of the company's group finance. He also served as CFO and senior vice president of operations for media research.

Wimpfheimer will manage Witness Systems' strategic corporate initiatives and legal affairs. His responsibilities range from directing key investments to providing legal counsel for the company's operations. He joins Witness from Harbinger, a provider of electronic commerce software and services, where he served as vice president, business development,
general counsel and secretary.

Mergers & Acquisitions

Targus Group International, a supplier of portable solutions, has acquired Roundhouse, a designer and distributor of CD and DVD-ROM carrying cases and storage systems. The acquisition will increase Targus' top-line growth by introducing a new set of customers to the company's existing base, including mass merchants, bookstores, music stores and houseware retailers.

Delano Technology, a provider of interaction-based e-business solutions for the enterprise market, has acquired Digital Archaeology, a provider of analytic e-business solutions, in an $87 million deal. The acquisition will enable Delano to bring to market a single solution that integrates DA's analytical products with Delano's e-business platform and eCRM applications. The combined company will serve more than 150 enterprise customers, including Nortel and i2 Technologies. A fully integrated solution will be released in multiple phases, with the first stage having been in December 2000.

Nortel Networks has completed its acquisition of Alteon WebSystems. As a result, each outstanding share of Alteon's common stock was converted into a right to receive 1.83148 Nortel common shares. With the completed acquisition, Nortel created a Content Networking division and says it's ready to deliver content delivery services that take advantage of the Internet. Content Networking will span the optical Internet, wireless Internet, local Internet and e-business. As a result, service providers will be able to improve the reliability and speed of the sites and services they offer.

FrontRange Solutions (formerly Goldmine), a developer of sales, marketing and customer support software, has acquired Maestro Commerce, an ASP and developer of a modular suite of e-business products. The acquisition will allow FrontRange to expand its product offerings for small- to medium-size organizations. The acquisition also complements the company's initiative to launch a range of Web-based applications that will help companies manage the customer experience. Maestro, which sells its e-business services to companies that have complex commerce requirements, will continue to sell direct, but will now offer FrontRange applications.

FirePond, a provider of integrated e-business solutions focused on multichannel sales, has acquired Signature Software, a training and consulting firm specializing in architecture, design and construction of distributed enterprise applications. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. FirePond gains Signature Software's training and implementation personnel. Signature Software is experienced in delivering multitier, Internet and enterprise application solutions through training classes and consulting. The company will eventually reside in FirePond's Minneapolis location. Michael Griffith and his staff from Signature will report to Jim Rubin, vice president of professional services at FirePond.

Partnerships & Alliances

Vroom Technologies, a telecommunications software applications company, will offer New Era of Network's e-business integration software to integrate Vroom's sales and marketing applications for the telecommunications industry with its clients' existing applications. NEON will offer Vroom's sales and marketing software with its suite of telecommunications-focused solutions.

SITEL, an eCRM solutions company, and MyHelpDesk, a computer self-help aggregator, signed an alliance that gives SITEL the ability to provide technical support and help desk services using MyHelpDesk's FirstHELP support solutions. SITEL will use the solutions in a number of SITEL's technical support and help desk services. SITEL will provide technology end-users with the ability to solve their PC-related issues through FirstHELP's directories.

Selligent, a European eCRM company, has partnered with Coface, a corporate performance rating analysis company. Users of Selligent software can now have direct access to Coface's newest offering, a Web-based corporate rating system that enables risk assessment of companies via the Web. The partnership was initiated by Selligent to complement the CRM capabilities it offers to its customers.

Pegasystems, a provider of rules-based, Internet-architected eCRM software and solutions, has announced an agreement with AOL under which AOL will continue using Pegasystems' eCRM solution to help improve customer service delivery to its members. Pegasystem's workflow management technology allows customer service consultants to work from a consolidated view of the customer through an interface, resulting in more efficient service for the customer.

GeePS.com, a wireless ASP, has aligned with Mobilocity. GeePS will offer its clients Mobilecity's end-to-end wireless solutions, and Mobileocity will be able to access GeePS' end-to-end business strategic consulting and engineering implementation services. Both companies will also work together to implement marketing strategies for brick-and-mortars and media companies looking to exploit location-based wireless technologies.

strategic Data Corp., a provider of real-time Web personalization and marketing analysis tools for Internet companies, has aligned with Bigfoot Interactive, a direct e-marketing service company, to increase the relevancy of e-mail programs to consumers. Strategic Data‘s PerfectClerk software, aligned with Bigfoot's e-Marketing strategy and campaign management software, will further refine the segmentation of e-mail content. Both companies' clients will now be able to create consumer dialogues that are targeted from inception and contain messages that are refined based on the consumer's segment group, preference or response.

CRM Update

FieldCentrix, a wireless Internet software solutions provider, has raised $23 million in venture capital to support the expansion of its wireless software applications for the field service industries. In addition, the company plans to move into international markets. Grainger Technology Partners and Sigma Partners were the lead investors for this round of financing.

Etinuum, an Internet professional services firm that focuses on CRM solutions, has changed its name to Digital Lighthouse. The recent acquisition of Lighthouse Consulting Group, a knowledge and document management consulting firm, solidifies DL's position as a provider of CRM technology and operations solutions. According to Digital Lighthouse, the new name will reflect its new model of transforming traditional businesses into customer-centric digital enterprises.

ValueandSaveDirect.com, an e-commerce and marketing solutions provider, has partnered with America Works to train and employ welfare mothers as marketing assistants. ValueandSaveDirect will also provide a $250 per month childcare allowance and a $50 per month transportation stipend to employees hired through America Works, a private employee agency specializing in moving people from welfare to work. Marketing associates hired through America Works will be responsible for enrolling local merchants in the Value and Save Direct Quick Click Online Value Guide, which is mailed 10 times per year to online consumers.

J2 Global Communications has launched a new Web site called www.j2.com. The former site, www.jfax.com, represented the company's focus on faxing. Now j2 is offering not only Internet faxing, but voicemail, e-mail, Web-initiated conference calling, talking e-mails and e-mails by phone.

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