On-Demand CRM – Integration Hub for the Small Business or Enterprise Department

There is an interesting phenomenon happening in the small and medium business segment. The widespread adoption of on-demand or software as a service (saas) CRM, led by Salesforce.com, and followed by companies such as NetSuite and RightNow Technologies.

Well, that’s not really new.

What is new is the expanded use of saas CRM software within these mini-enterprises, whether independent businesses or smaller divisions or departments of larger corporations, as their principal business platform. Since saas CRM manages the lifeblood of the business, sales and customers, and is increasingly more user friendly and flexible, it is becoming the preferred method for companies to manage their business.

As a result, it is also becoming the de facto integration hub, or SOA enabler, for the smaller enterprise.

A case in point is the experience of a well-known educational products sales company. It’s parent company sells educational toys through retailers. However, it launched a division that sells education-oriented items to schools and school districts, such as a handheld screen-based interactive tool that uses story narratives to teach English proficiency to non-native English speakers. This newer division established a territory sales model, with geographically-based sales executives selling to school districts in their area.

The main corporate entity has only a handful of account managers who sell to large retailers such as Wal-Mart and Toys’r’Us. Whereas it is geared towards a retail sales model and related B2B IT infrastructure, the newer division had the infrastructure needs of a territory-based direct sales model. They required a CRM application to track leads, opportunities, and closed sales, and because of the reduced bandwidth of this smaller business unit, they required the efficiency gains of an automated commission calculating application.

With no dedicated IT resources (IT resources are tied to corporate and are available “on-loan” to the new division), and a need to ramp-up quickly, the division chose to bring the CRM and commission calculation functionality of the on-demand model. They chose Salesforce.com and Xactly Corporation, respectively, to fulfill these functions. The one on-premise application they had access to was Oracle Financials for accounting.

The missing piece was to integrate these applications together. They chose to go with a packaged integration platform, adopting their subscription-based pricing model and on-premise software.

In addition to being the CRM platform for the new division, Salesforce.com is also serving as the de facto “enterprise service bus” to incorporate the accounting functionality of Oracle Financials, and to trigger Xactly to do it’s job of calculating sales commissions.

This use of Salesforce.com as a de facto on-demand ESB platform was noted in an August 2007 white paper entitled “Busting Myths of On-Demand Integration,” by Peter Coffee, Director of Platform Research.

“On-demand platforms exhibit the growing capability to provide a foundation for integration,” he said, citing a May 2007 announcement of the Salesforce.com SOA technology that enables the exposure and consumption of web services.

In the same paragraph he notes:

“This is not to say, however, that a move to a Web services protocol strategy (such as that of using a saas application such as Salesforce.com) is a prerequisite for on-demand integration…there are options available for use with the salesforce.com platform” such as custom coding or a third party integration platform.

In other words, on-demand applications, Salesforce.com being the most prominent, are quickly establishing themselves as integration hubs the way ESB providers such as Sonic Software, IBM’s Websphere, and BEA’s Weblogic were formulated to be.

These SOA solutions, however, are cost-prohibitive for smaller companies, divisions or departments, and are often managed by enterprise IT staffs who are unresponsive to the needs of the department. These smaller enterprises have to fend for themselves, and are adopting on-demand applications that require little to no IT involvement.

IT typically has to get involved when it comes to integration, according to Coffee. Such was the case with the educational products company. Their IT department provided the input that the newer division needed to give the technical “thumbs-up” to the integration solution. But due to human bandwidth issues they decided to go with a fully delivered integration solution as opposed to the traditional toolset that is typically sold to IT departments.

Tying together Salesforce.com, Oracle Financials and Xactly Corporation was done in the span of four months and cost less than $50,000. Why did it take that long? Because they had to take a breather between deciding on an integration vendor and a commission calculation vendor.

Compare that with enterprise application integration projects which typically take nine months or more and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and you can see why Salesforce.com, together with fully configured integration solutions, are quickly becoming the “integration hubs” or systems of record for the smaller enterprise.

Paris to New York in 2 Hrs – New Super Sonic Business Jet

Imagine flying at speeds of up to 2,664mph – Mach 3.6 (twice as fast as Concorde) onboard a private jet with 20 other fellow passengers. Nobody has ever travelled that fast before. Flying from Paris to New York would take less than 2 hours and London to Sydney in three and a half hours. SonicStar is set to achieve these world record passenger flight times with it’s new futuristic VIP jet.

The project was founded by HyperMachs CEO Richard Lugg. HyperMach claim that the SonicStar will be 30 per cent more fuel efficient than the Rolls-Royce engines which were used on it’s predecessor – The Concord. It will also fly at twice the speed of the Concord – radically cutting journey times. High tech light weight materials such as composite metals and titanium will be used in the build of the aircraft to reduce weight and maintain structural integrity.

HyperMach have named the propulsion system: S-MAGJET. Unlike conventional jet engines the S-MAGJET system is based on a hybrid gas turbine engine technology. This will dramatically lower it’s Carbon Footprint.

HyperMach SonicStar Specification:

  • Maximum cruise speed – Mach 3.6
  • Long-range cruise speed – Mach 3.1
  • High-speed cruise speed – Mach 3.4
  • Engines – Two SonicBlue S-MAGJET Hybrid Supersonic 4000-X Series
  • Landing distance – 4,800ft
  • Range – 6,000 nautical miles
  • Highest Altitude – 62,000ft
  • Length – 64metres
  • Height at maximum – 2.6metres
  • Width at maximum – 2.7metres

An electromagnetic current will be passed across the fuselage to suppress the sonic boom. This means that at supersonic thrust speed – spectators on the ground will not hear a supersonic boom. This technology empowers the super plane to overcome the noise regulations that currently restrict supersonic travel.

The British Department of Trade and Industry is investing in the project and the plane is set to be airborne in 2021. The project will have a huge impact on both the commercial and private aviation sector and no doubt create thousands of jobs. The sheer demand for an aircraft of this type will result in most mainstream jet manufacturers being forced into manufacturing rival jets of this calibre. In the future many private jets may be able to travel at super sonic speed.

The SonicStar will revolutionise private jet charter by cutting journey times making more achievable in the business day. Until 2021, jet operators and jet charter consultancy firms will have wait until the SuperSonic is released.

A Sonic Drive In Restaurants Franchise Review

The concept of Sonic Drive In Restaurants stands apart with a difference in experience of service the busy customers would love to enjoy. It is service poles apart from the customary belief that every customer wants to sit in cozy restaurants waiting for the order to be served. Sonic simply offers a break away from the belief and values convenience of the customers. Many would want to finish off eating without alighting from their cars.

It is a huge convenience for the customers’ craving for time to order in a drive-through line without a need to park the car and walk in. The Drive In Restaurants of Sonic have shades to stay under and enjoy their quick served hot and fresh meals.

A Successful Concept

The unprecedented growth of franchisees has proven the success of today’s customers. It is the unique value for their time to spend in doing something better than waiting for orders to be served in fanciful time consuming formal ways. The franchisees having got convinced with this concept, work with mental attitude attuned to the convenience of customers. There are a number of successful franchisees of Sonic Drive In restaurants since the time, the company started selling out franchises in 1959. It is the great success earned out of serving everyday known hamburgers and fries in the cars ordered from intercom.

Expansion For Franchise Base

Sonic Drive In Restaurants shows a consistent growth over the years adding about 500 franchises in just 3 years, from 2,493 in 2006 to 3,055 in 2009. They have now geared themselves up for opening up new franchises in about 30 states in the United States. The open offer includes franchising for exclusive territories.

Franchise Terms

Sonic is very particular about ensuring success of all of its units wherever it may be. That is the reason for company’s firm stand about an experience in running restaurants. If an interested franchisee does not have such an experience, there must be an operating equity partner. There is involvement of investment in equipment, inventory, startup expenses, staffing and the franchise fee. As such, the liquid cash requirement is pegged at $1,000,000 with equal figure as the net worth of the individual entrepreneurs. With these parameters of qualification, a franchise should be prepared for a total capital outlay of $710,000 to $3 million. The figures of investment are for setting up traditional Drive In restaurants. However, the investments are much on the lower side for non-traditional places like mall food courts, campus dining facilities, airports, hospital food courts and alike public places.

The franchise fee charged is $45,000 for a renewable agreement for 20 years, plus an extension of 10 years. They charge normal royalty fees between 4 to 5 percent, plus 5.9 percent towards advertisement.

Support Extended To The Franchises

The corporate management of Sonic Drive In Restaurants believes in comprehensive training of the franchises. They provide a 12-week training program comprising of 8 weeks for restaurant training and 3 weeks allocated to the store openings process. In the remaining one week, the training covers all aspects of general management skills and business development.

The company offers regional and national cable advertising. Exclusive ad and promotional supports come from specially designed radio and TV commercials, and promotional coupons for individual franchise.