February 10, 2005

IN THE NEWS Published reports indicate that Microsoft will push back the release of its Microsoft CRM 2.0 product to the end of this year. Long-anticipated, the release is expected to improve installation, integration, and workflow capabilities, challenges that have by and large not harmed adoption of the existing version 1.2 product, but have affected perceptions of customer satisfaction in the hotly contested market for small and midsize business CRM. The product launch will now come after new Microsoft CRM General Manager Brad Wilson, appointed last week, has had a chance to familiarize himself with the business unit. Microsoft is also reportedly opening its competitive intelligence service, dubbed Comphot, to high-level reseller partners. The Comphot service has historically been used by inside sales to gather information and strategies for head-to-head sales, but is now being made available to field VARs in an attempt to better win deals in hotly competitive markets, including CRM.
Siebel indicated that it has been granted a U.S. patent for its SmartScript call center agent, GUI. The SmartScript system provides call scripting that adapts on the fly to suit the particulars of a transaction. CUSTOMER WINS MegaFon-Moscow, a Russian wireless telecommunications carrier, will adopt Amdocs CRM to serve its network of more than two million subscribers in the Russian capital metropolis. MegaFon-Moscow intends to integrate Amdocs into its current subscriber services systems, and plans to improve customer satisfaction and retention. Avaya announced that personal and institutional financial services provider Merrill Lynch has selected Avaya's IP telephony solutions for a large implementation across several corporate locations in the Australia, Brazil, and the U.S. The new communications platform will employ Softphone technology to provide secure access to the Avaya corporate data-and-voice network from any Internet connection on any supported platform, including laptops. NEW PRODUCTS ATG has released the first fruits of its acquisition of Primus Knowledge Solutions last autumn. The company says the latest version of ATG Adaptive Customer Assistance includes search capabilities obtained from Primus (formerly known as Primus Enterprise Search) and the core of ATG's existing Web self-service capabilities. ON THE MOVE Hewlett-Packard has replaced Carly Fiorina as chairman and CEO. Current CFO Robert Wayman will take over the chief executive duties while a search for a permanent CEO is conducted. Fiorina pushed through a merger with desktop computer rival Compaq, but some investors and analysts believe that the merger has not delivered the promised benefits of uniting the HP and Compaq customer base under a single brand. Related articles: The Technical Side of CRM The 2004 Market Leaders CRM Is a Priority Overseas
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