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Web Help Desk, Sitel's New Standard

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is as classic as classic rock gets -- The Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers, pure solid 24-karat rolled gold: ArrivedOK, a product described as a "personal flight arrival tracker and arrival messenger," is now available in the Japanese and Russian languages and open for beta testing in most countries of the world.

The service -- you're really a bit surprised nobody thought of this before -- lets air passengers automatically notify others about their arrival to airports worldwide by e-mail, SMS, via blogs or Twitter, thereby letting them save on international roaming charges.

Developed by Eyeline Communications, ArrivedOK lets travelers enter flight information and recipient e-mails or phone numbers before take-off. When they reach their destination and turn on their cell phone, the service locates it in the local mobile network and sends out a brief arrival message to the recipients listed. The system bypasses the heavy international roaming charges for voice, text and mobile e-mail services which sneak up and bite you on the rear when you're traveling abroad. Not that First Coffee has had that happen, oh no.

"So why can't they just check to see if the flight's arrived?" someone may ask. See, this way, your personal arrival is noted instead of flight status in general, so when you oversleep your nine-hour Dubai layover, or miss your connecting flight in Heathrow, you don't have anybody tapping their toes at the airport for hours while you're still over the Atlantic Ocean. Not that that's happened to First Coffee either, no siree. No personal experience there, spending two hours traveling out to Ataturk Airport, waiting three hours and returning home empty-handed only to have to go back later that night.
"Unlike other flight tracking services, which are based on general flight data from dispatcher centers, ArrivedOK tracks one's actual appearance in the destination airport, so one's friends and colleagues are 100 percent sure the person is landed," says Andrey Deriabin, Director Business Development at Eyeline Communications.

Therefore ArrivedOK has rightfully been selected as an Official Honoree in The 13th Annual Webby Awards in two categories: Best Use of GPS or Location Technology and Experimental & Innovation. ArrivedOK is currently translated into Japanese, French and Russian and is available as free public beta in most countries of the world.

Eyeline Communications is incorporated in Austin, Texas and has offices in Singapore, Russia, and CIS, counting an 80 million-strong subscriber base in Europe and Asia for its carrier-grade B2B products and mobile services.

Kickfire and Sun Microsystems have announced a joint MySQL Enterprise marketing agreement for what officials of both firms are calling "the world's first high-performance MySQL data warehousing appliance." The companies will work together to promote the Kickfire MySQL Appliance to data warehouse prospects as part of Sun's MySQL Certified Storage Engine Program.

Kickfire is a diamond sponsor of this week's MySQL Conference & Expo, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, where Bruce Armstrong, Kickfire's chairman and chief executive officer, will deliver a keynote address.

The Kickfire appliance is targeted at the data warehousing mass market, where Sun's MySQL open source database has a large installed base. Company officials emphasize its price/performance ratio as its marketing lead, pitching it as "high performance affordable to the masses," along with the fact that as a plug-and-play appliance it doesn't need the IT resources or data warehousing expertise smaller firms typically don't have lying around.

"We are looking forward to helping Kickfire promote their data warehouse for MySQL Enterprise," says Mark Herring, vice president, MySQL and Software Infrastructure marketing, Sun Microsystems, calling their product "compelling" for organizations looking to deploy data warehouses less than ten terabytes in size.

MySQL is generally regarded as one of the most, if not the most popular open source database software in the world. Kickfire's offerings are based on a patented SQL chip that packs the power of dozens of CPUs into a small, low-power form factor. The appliances scale from gigabytes to terabytes and are based on Linux and commodity hardware.

Web Help Desk, which sells hosted help desk software, has announced a Lite Edition which will be marketed to small to medium businesses, K-12 schools, collegiate departments and governmental agencies as both a hosted SaaS application or on site installation.

In today's economy a lot of organizations are figuring it makes sense to pay a little more attention to customer service and retention. This means finding tools that can help them provide better ROI, and the Web Help Desk Lite Edition is being marketed to this need. "Organizations demand measurable value in their investments and are seeking alternatives to expensive, heavyweight software packages and hard to maintain in-house products" says Web Help Desk, VP, Terry Siddall.

The Lite Edition has what company officials consider a strong feature set along with simple implementation, ease of use and a good user interface, backed by a technical support team.

The product has a customer support Web portal for end users to submit service requests, view ticket updates, and seek self help or view auto-suggested solutions from the knowledge base, as well as an e-mail-to-ticket conversion function so "service requests submitted via e-mail do not fall through the cracks and breach SLA," company officials say.

Support staff may add notes (and hidden notes) to each ticket from the Web or via e-mail, and every update to a ticket is recorded by user name and time date stamp. Companies can use their current LDAP or AD directory for log-in authentication and to schedule imports of customer data. It also lets users run a variety of help desk reports to measure productivity and gauge customer satisfaction.

The SaaS option comes with a "try it before you buy it" hosted trial period.
Sitel, a global business process outsourcing provider, has launched what company officials call "a new Continuous Improvement standard."

The firm has established an Office of Continuous Improvement that reports directly to the global head of operations and is responsible for ensuring consistency across Sitel's 440+ clients and 155+ sites, "developing a global learning culture where all 60,000 associates are on a continuous improvement track," and delivering ongoing process improvement initiatives "with measurable return on customer investment," according to company officials.

The office has a global Black Belt organizational structure with oversight for operational support disciplines including lean Sigma Process Improvement to the site level, project management, client & operational reporting and leadership development and training.

"Our client's partner with Sitel to provide customer care," says Chad Carlson, executive vice president of operations for Sitel, adding that the company "views each non-value added call as a defect."

Sitel's Continuous Improvement platform uses operational talent within Sitel and from the industry, including processes and advanced technologies. Warehoused data, accessed through global dashboards, provide a real-time global view of operational metrics, letting Sitel Black Belts "identify trends and apply Lean and Six Sigma methodologies to understand and fix the root cause of the issue," company officials say.

Sitel recently appointed Mike Patterson to lead this strategic global office. He reports directly to Carlson. The company is privately held and majority owned by Canadian diversified company Onex Corporation.

Convergys Corporation has announced the availability of Product Control Manager 2.0 within itsBSS/OSS portfolio. This new version of the product includes features that provide enhanced support for product change management, dynamic data modeling, and real-time integration with external systems.

Available now, it's a centralized product catalog and lifecycle management system for the creation and use of product and service data, covering the technical, commercial, and price definition of products. It's billed as something to help communications service providers manage their products across all network and service domains and reduce the costs associated with managing a product portfolio.

"We have seen a shift for service providers - in their customer base, competition, and in the market at large - all of which point to a need to introduce more products faster, and to make product management tools more responsive," says Bob Lento, Convergys President of Information Management.
Convergys official's claim 2.0 has "several enhancements" over prior releases, including alerts when changes occur in constituent definitions of products for on-going maintenance, change management, and modeling efficiency, as well as enabling the creation of "more flexible and dynamic product definitions that can incorporate data from external systems through use of pre-defined data look-ups." In other words, administrative users can create, and then register, in Product Control Manager one or more value reference methods or validation reference methods. Product modelers can select a reference method as the means to retrieve details (such as "external data look-up") of a parameter in the product definition.
It also lets users create "a richer description of products, where as part of the product definition, modelers can specify the desired presentment of product data by external systems, such as an ordering portal." Product modelers can also specify the sequence in which an orderable item in a product or a configuration choice is presented.

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