CRM Announcements and Analysis

By Geoffrey James

Spoke announced it is the first partner to achieve validated status for Siebel CRM OnDemand, Release 7. Spoke, which helps CRM users identify prospects, research leads, get access to decision makers and manage relationships, has been integrated into the Siebel CRM OnDemand interface, allowing users to transition between the two solutions without additional data entry.
Our take: Spoke is a unique CRM extension that provides an automated method for discovering new sales contacts. Until recently it was only available on salesforce.com so this extension of the capability to Siebel is a welcome addition.

Best (a.k.a. Sage Group) announced integration between its award-winning FAS fixed-asset management and ACCPAC Advantage Series accounting applications for companies based in the United States and Canada. FAS Asset Accounting delivers fixed-asset accounting, depreciation and reporting for businesses needing asset management tools in accounting environments. The software is intended to manage assets throughout their lifecycle, from acquisition to disposal.
Our take: One of the more neglected aspects of CRM is the accounting that surrounds the sales process. This product helps build a bridge between traditional sales-oriented CRM packages and the software used by accounting groups.

NetSuite launched NetSuite CRM+, a hosted application that integrates order management, partner management, incentive management and project tracking. It also offers Website hosting, Website analytics, customer portals, partner portals and partner management. These capabilities are intended to automate the entire customer lifecycle from a suspect browsing a company’s Website, to an interested lead, to a qualified prospect, to a customer who has placed an order, to servicing that customer and, finally, to guiding that customer to repurchase.
Our take: This is an ambitious offering because it attempts to bring together a number of different functions that aren’t always found on CRM systems. Of particular interest is the partner management concept. As more companies turn to indirect channels to sell their products and services, using CRM to manage channel relationships has become increasingly important.

SalesCenter announced its SalesCenter 3-D solution, which includes a 3-D relational database, an address book system, a sales manager approval process and third-party software integration. An important feature of SalesCenter 3-D, called three database objects, allows relationships to be created between contacts, companies and deals so sales managers can create multilevel reports and streamlined workflow processes.
Our take: This is a fairly new offering so it may take a while for the company to establish a reputation in the marketplace. They’re differentiating their product with the 3-D concept, which may seem a little techie for some sales managers. They claim, however, to have some unique functionality so the product is definitely worth a look, especially because they offer a try-it-for-free program.