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SaaSy Discussions (Part Ia)

Written By: Predrag Jakovljevic
Published On: April 28 2008

Part I of this blog post introduced the common software deployment models and Consona CRM's approach in that regard. To the end of enabling Total Customer Management (TCM) via an adaptive CRM offering, Consona CRM is built with a superior core infrastructure (customer data model, BPM, BI, SOA) and a holistic, best-of-breed product portfolio.

Consona claims to be one of the market’s rare CRM offerings that is both operational and collaborative, with many years of a broad range of consulting, technical, and business process services that have created the related methodology and blueprint.

Consona CRM Portfolio

The vendor believes that it offers the best value for price in the market due to the extensive product's flexibility and adaptability, ease of customization, configuration, integration and upgrades, and due to the depth of the product's extensibility.

These capabilities come from the combination of Onyx Adaptive CRM (i.e., BPM, BI, SFA, customer service, customer data management and customer data integration [CDI]), KNOVA (i.e., self-service and knowledge management [KM]) and the partnership with Million Handshakes (part of Portrait Software) for marketing automation.

The combination of Onyx and KNOVA allowed Consona to combine service resolution management (SRM, not to be confused with supplier relationship management!) and CRM offering, whereby SRM adds resolution and case management process to core CRM and knowledge management adds context to customer interactions, so that organizations better able to serve customers.

Future releases of KNOVA and Onyx will deliver a CRM solution to companies of all sizes across a number of industries, featuring adaptive but tightly integrated CRM, BPM, BI, and SRM functionality. Consona CRM is also excited about the guided selling functionality within KNOVA’s Active Decisions module, which will further enhance the sales and marketing capabilities of its overall offering.

While much many more details on Consona CRM will come soon in a series of articles on TEC's site and newsletter, it suffices to say here that the Onyx Adaptive CRM 6.0 release is optimized for collaboration and flexibility via the following highlights:

  • Comprehensive and intuitive configuration/customization makes CRM more relevant to each organization. The UI Configuration Workbench (UCW) feature provides Customization Framework (for users to implement, re-use and maintain UI customization), Navigation Design (for producing a tailored UI layout without the need for coding), Forms Design (for users to streamline the most common data entry forms), Role-Based UIs (to create specific UI layout and user experience based on profiles) and Dynamic Forms (to produce task-driven forms, based on the status of a particular task).

  • Improved assigning, automating and tracking of tasks for accountability. The Assignment Studio feature allows users to assign sales and service representatives to logical groupings based on business-defined criteria. It automatically routes incidents and customer records to assignment sets based on configurable business rules, with an unlimited structure and multi-user/team assignment possibility.

  • Platform enhancements make future upgrades easier and provide greater extensibility. The SQL Generation capability is a new data access architecture that is data-driven, which at runtime performs parameter substitution to construct SQL statements. All SQL (structural query language) procedures require no SQL coding, while there is referential integrity throughout the database.

  • A seamless calendar integration with Microsoft Outlook for increased efficiency to associate individual or group appointments from Outlook to companies, individuals or incidents in Onyx. Users can view and work with the Outlook Calendar directly in the Onyx UI. Although not an intrinsic part of Onyx Adaptive CRM , Outlook is seamlessly integrated with Onyx Employee Portal (OEP), which compares to typical weaker synchronization approaches in the CRM market.


It goes without saying that the broad functional and flexible footprint described above currently lends itself well to either the on-premise or single-tenant (ASP) hosted deployment model.

IFS' Stance on SaaS

As for the IFS Applications for complex manufacturing ERP and asset-intensive industries, IFS' official position towards SaaS business strategy is as follows:
Enterprise systems are complex:

  • ERP systems are often of a broad functional scope and with lots of back-end integrations, and will thus adopt SaaS later than other software category; and

  • Examples seen so far cover a single process or module (e.g., payroll, SFA, transportation rates, etc.), not whole suites with all integrations needed.


Security Issues:

  • Several of IFS focused verticals such as Aviation & Defense (A&D) and Utilities, have security restrictions limiting the possibilities to run externally managed applications.


Opportunity:

  • However, IFS does see an interest for "intranet/extranet SaaS" where a configured and integrated application is delivered as a service by a central information technology (IT) organization to other departments, suppliers, and contractors in the supply chain. An example could be Lockheed Martin (LM) delivering an enterprise asset maintenance (EAM) solution as a service to LM itself, LM subcontractors, the United States Department of Defense (DoD), and other parties involved in performing maintenance.


New Technology:

  • In this respect, the upcoming Aurora UI, which we will be described in a separate blog post, is important, as it is possible to be delivered as a service over the inter-/intra-/extranet using web deployment and standard internet protocols. This should enable some on-demand delivery of IFS Applications though existing infrastructure.



Again, your comments with regard to the opinions and assertions expressed thus far are welcome. How important are the abovementioned considerations in your software selections, and what are your on-demand, on-premise and/or SaaS experiences?
 
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