CRM applications are finally catching up with mobile customers and sales forces.
9 May 2000 - Chordiant Software Inc., of Cupertino, Calif., this week plans to introduce wireless options for its customer relationship management software, following SAP AG, which last week unveiled a partnership with Nokia Corp., of Finland, to add WAP (Wireless Access Protocol) support in my SAP.com Mobile Workplace. Other vendors, such as myNetsales.com, plan to add wireless support later in the year.
The forces behind the expansion in wireless capabilities are the dramatic growth of personal digital assistants and cellular telephones among consumers and sales representatives who are looking for more efficient alternatives to the cumbersome laptop.
"It's a lot quicker to do it wirelessly, without docking a PC or dialing in or figuring out where's the phone booth in an airport," said John McCain, president of e.solutions for consulting company Electronic Data Systems Corp., of Plano, Texas.
EDS is deploying the latest version of Chordiant software in General Motors Corp.'s OnStar system, which provides motorists with a variety of services, including automatic notification of local emergency services during accidents and street map locations of hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions.
EDS is using Chordiant Version 2.0 to expand OnStar's Concierge Services offering to enable motorists to buy tickets and other items online. The new services will be available this summer.
Chordiant 2.0, available this week, provides integration with servers that send data to wireless devices via WAP. Transmitted data can be displayed on any WAP-enabled device supporting WML (Wireless Markup Language).
The upgrade also includes improved voice/data integration, so electronic records can follow a customer who is calling by phone and has to be transferred to other customer service representatives. This eliminates the need to repeatedly ask the customer for his or her account number.
E-mail communications are now automatically embedded in customer interaction records, and more self-help options have been added for customers using the telephone, such as a choice among voice, fax and e-mail responses.
Support for IBM MQSeries messaging middleware also has been added to expand integration with legacy systems.
Chordiant 2.0, which runs on Windows NT, AIX, HP-UX and Solaris, starts at $1 million for 500 seats.
SAP is providing MiniApps, small applications that use WML to move data to Nokia's WAP server. The applications can be used to display company news and sales figures and send alerts and e-mail.
For security, the new WAP-enabled applications leverage Secure Sockets Layer and Wireless Transport Layer Security and provide single-sign-on capabilities. The new features are part of the standard pricing for mySAP.com.
Along with the large vendors, smaller CRM companies are recognizing the need for wireless support.
"We know that our system will be immensely more valuable and practical if we actually port it to wireless technology," said Mike Doyle, CEO of myNetsales. com, a Boston-based application service provider.
myNetsales.com, a subsidiary of 3Lance Communications Inc., plans to provide wireless access to its CRM software, hosted by Exodus Com mu ni ca tions Inc., in the third quarter.
The company is working with consultancy One World Internetworking Inc., of Portland, Ore.
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