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The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is a nice Sonny Rollins album for a cool, slightly overcast day, Saxophone Colossus. Some critics call this album a great jazz classic, that may be, First Coffee doesn't know jazz well enough to say, but if so it's one of a handful of jazz albums praised by critics which also happens to be enjoyable listening for the more casual jazz fan, as most critical darling jazz albums are unlistenable exercises in musical deconstruction: has announced that it's been positioned in the Leaders quadrant of Gartner's CRM Customer Service Contact Centers Magic Quadrant. According to Gartner, the magic quadrant "looks at contact center desktop software for customer service and support best suited for different economic situations, including a recessionary period." Noted vendors, the analyst firm said, "are showing how their products can lower costs while driving customer loyalty."

Michael Maoz, Vice President and Distinguished Analyst at Gartner, says in the report that as more applications are built in a cloud-based model, "by 2011,SaaS will evolve from an interesting alternative delivery model into a critical selection factor at all levels of the customer service contact center," an opinion which is no doubt music to Marc Benioff's ears.

The Service Cloud, according to Gartner officials, "transforms customer service through the power of cloud computing," bringing together cloud computing platforms like Google, Facebook and Twitter with traditional contact center channels like phone, e-mail and chat. By capturing these conversations, they explain, "the Service Cloud helps companies deliver the expertise of the community to customers, agents and partners regardless of location or device."
As far as Gartner's concerned, this is the future, too - they predict that "by 2013, at least 75 percent of customer service centers will use some SaaS application as a part of the contact center solution." The heart of the Service Cloud, what it does that really makes it tick, is capturing and funneling information from inside the enterprise and in the cloud into a company's knowledge base.

The Magic Quadrant is described by Gartner officials as "a graphical representation of a marketplace at and for a specific time period," depicting "Gartner's analysis of how certain vendors measure against criteria for that marketplace," and is "intended solely as a research tool, and is not meant to be a specific guide to action."

DataSphere, a Software as a Service Web technology company, has announced the availability of the DataSphere Web Suite, which lets companies create and run Web sites based on catalogs, media or other data on a scalable, multi-tenant SaaS platform.
The suite is comprised of a number of different services, each designed for the specific requirements of individual customers.

DataSphere CEO Satbir Khanuja says he sees quite a market in "affordable consumer experience for Web sites." To that end, he explains, the Web Suite is designed to let Web sites with extensive product, media or other data catalogs operate smoothly, "increase revenues and reduce expenses within weeks."

The DataSphere Web Suite is a basically a site creation, hosting and management product giving Web site owners access to capabilities for attracting traffic from across the Web and providing the in-site consumer experience. Company officials claim that their team has "decades of driving traffic and user experience at and," among others.

Loyalty Lab, a vendor of on-demand loyalty and CRM for consumer brands, has announced the launch of a free trial "try before you buy" option on any of Loyalty Lab's products to qualified companies for up to 90 days.
Company officials say the offer lets marketers use their own data in any system, including e-mail, segmentation, loyalty programs, ad hoc reporting, OLAP analysis, and data visualization. Matt Howland, President of Loyalty Lab, said the firm "wanted to give companies a chance to learn more and evaluate our capabilities before making a financial commitment."
Prospective clients can use their own data on a full subscription of Loyalty Lab products including a sample microsite, complete access to APIs, documentation and best practices, and support from account management team, company officials say, adding that the trial "can be used to experiment with different relationship marketing tactics, to run parallel to an existing program, to try ad hoc reporting and OLAP, or just to get familiar with Loyalty Lab's features and applications."

Loyalty Lab's four products for retailers, manufacturers, and other consumer brands are available for trial, including a customer retention tool, a loyalty marketing product, a "lightweight" tool for in-store clienteling and a reporting and analysis product providing ad hoc reporting, OLAP analysis and data visualization tools.

LiveOps's On-Demand Contact Center Platform has received a 2009 CRM Excellence Award from Technology Marketing Corporation'sCustomer Interaction Solutions magazine.

The platform offers contact center technology designed to let users improve the cost and operational efficiencies of their contact centers. These capabilities include call routing, interactive voice response, agent management, workforce productivity, and real-time monitoring and reporting. Using Web architecture and distributed grid computing, company officials say, the platform was designed "from the ground up" with "multi-layered security features."

"We are honored to be recognized by Customer Interaction Solutions for providing a technology that helps enterprises achieve greater cost and operational efficiency in their contact centers, especially in these challenging economic times," says Wes Hayden, president of LiveOps, adding that his company's "experience operating a virtual call center of 20,000 independent home agents" helps them "capitalize on the growing trend of deploying remote agents."

The CRM Excellence Award relies on "facts and numbers that demonstrate the improvements the winner's product has made in a client's business," say TMC officials: "The Tenth Annual CRM Excellence Award winners have been chosen on the basis of their product or service's ability to help extend and expand the customer relationship to be all encompassing, covering the entire enterprise and the entire lifetime of the customer."

The 2009 CRM Excellence Award winners can be found in the May and June 2009 issues of Customer Interaction Solutions magazine.

Using the LiveOps on-demand platform, "rather than investing in overcapacity for the spikes in operations, companies can pay-per-use for technology and services that instantly scale up or down to meet demand," company officials say.

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