thie.me | Jens Thieme views and discussions

thie.me | Jens Thieme views and discussions

thie.me | Jens Thieme views and discussions

White Nights in Helsinki

When traveling to Helsinki, Finland to participate in the annual customer summit of the Global Intelligence Alliance, a partnering company I have been working with for several years now, I am always stunned by the atmosphere at night in June.


Not as bright as St. Petersburg at the same time at night (here is a great explanation for the phenomenon) it is still stunning how empty a seamingly busy capital can be at (near) daylight. It makes sense again though when checking your wristwatch at 3:20 in the morning.

Another advantage when stumbling out of a bar at that time of night: public restrooms are always accessible as well...

Incorporating CI business

How to incorporate

At some point in time a consultant business might be ready to officialize its economic and legal status. Incorporation is a well regulated, yet somewhat complicated process.


Incorporation is an important step in the life of a business, but unfortunately the true value of incorporating a business is often not seen until the business faces a negative situation, such as a lawsuit or bankruptcy.
 
Click here to learn how to incorporate an intelligence consultancy, market research business or competitive intelligence service.

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Profile & Biography

Jens Thieme...

...is currently Global Head of Market & Competitive Intelligence with Ciba - now part of BASF, a global specialty chemicals corporation based in Basel, Switzerland.

His blend of experience in leadership roles in Advertising & Marketing Communications, Electronic Communications, E-Business, Account Management and Market Development over the 18 years with this company both in Europe and the U.S. has qualified him to improve the company’s intelligence strategy, systems, processes and infrastructure.

As the founder of Markintell.com and an active member of and contributor to SCIP and a member of the board of the Swiss Competitive Intelligence Association SCIA, Jens maintains a strong international collaboration with competitive intelligence professionals

from a wide range of industries around the globe.

A German by birth Jens gathered experience in the following functions both at the company's global headquarters and abroad:
- Global Head of Market & Competitive Intelligence
- Global Head of Electronic Communications
- Head of Global E-Business
- Regional Head of Market Development NAFTA
- Regional Sales Support Manager USA, Can.
- Global Head of Marketing Communication, Advertising & Promotion

His main achievements include millions in savings and productivity increase, hundreds of millions in sales automation and countless value added initiatives and programs throughout his career.

Detailed Biography Jens Thieme.

 

Testimonials:

“Jens Thieme is a valued colleague in the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals- a business-best-practice organization that provides networking and training opportunities for its members. I first met Jens in 2007 at a European summit, where his presentation on competitive intelligence process and practice was one of the best attended and rated. We later discussed plans for a CTI (competitive technical intelligence) community of practice, where he volunteered time and excellent ideas. Subsequently, he joined the board of the Swiss CI Association, while strengthening links to SCIP.

Currently, we are collaborating on several projects, including SCIP's European Summit on CI for October, 2008. Jens is a very positive, energetic "can do" person. He is a reader and a sharer of ideas in a way that both allows for and stimulates the contributions of others. He is a clear thinker and brings a refreshing efficiency of thought and analysis. He seems comfortable with considerations of both marketing and technology aspects of the chemicals business.

He also is aware of the broader competitive environment in our rapidly-changing global economy and the challenges these dynamics raise for manufacturing companies in particular. . Finally, Jens is effective at building and maintaining a network across industries and geographical regions.”
Martha R. Matteo, 2008 Bd of Directors and Past President (2007), Soc. Competitive Intelligence Professionals

 

“Jens really stands out from the crowd with his drive and enthusiasm to not only make initiatives but also to follow through on them meticulously. No wonder he has managed to create a Market Intelligence community within his company that has earned a lot of appreciation and sense of value both internally and externally. Jens' positive energy is contagious, a view that is shared by my colleagues at GIA as well.”

Irmeli Hirvensalo, Director, Strategic Marketing, Global Intelligence Alliance
Group

 

“I've had the pleasure to work with Jens on numerous occassions to collaborate on bulding Competitive Intelligence functions. His unique insights based on his experience have directly contributed to many accomplishments. He has a unique ability to foster cross-functional collaboration. He is a true visionary for the global Competitive Intelligence community.”

Michel Bernaiche, Strategic Planning - Competitive Intelligence Manager, Dunkin' Brands

Playmobil 3845

Air Rescue 3

Years ago and as one of my first serious online activities I became a top author at the public opinions and review website epinions.com. As I own the rights of my own reviews that I wrote via alias 401402 I republish them here in my archives.

It’s not only Christmas time again, every year end (when our children celebrate their birthdays around the holidays on top of all excitement at this time of the year) we have the blast to find “the perfect gift” again for them. Being a German family we have kept most of our cultural and historical roots and habits alive and so our love for Playmobil toys carried on while residing in the United States, fortunately the German company has expanded to the States and the huge success proves the perfect concept for their toys. See company facts and interesting background information at the end of the review.

Content
1. Introduction
2. What it is
3. What you get
4. Backgrounder
5. Additional Resources
6. Conclusion

1. Introduction (being repeated in all my Playmobil reviews)
If you have children between 3 and 10 and want them to explore the world and develop fantasy and craft skills with the help of their favorite toys, consider Playmobil as a serious option. Although it’s a bit of a pricey undertaking, especially if you want to add on to existing sets (which is, by-the-way, one of the beautiful and impressive options with Playmobil), the quality and fantasy of these sets in all sizes is unmatched. Not only will you find countless options within the sets to re-assemble them one way or the other, thus constantly change landscapes, but you will find your children stick to their series like treasures. Playmobil has managed to offer little toy worlds out of reality and fantasy to meet extended educational and fun attributes while providing the perfect environment to pick up craftsmanship, motor and concentration skills at the same time as loads of fun and excitement to share among friends and siblings.

The quality is outstanding, every single piece fits perfectly, all parts are exchangeable to open up countless possibilities. The material is un-destroyable by ordinary play habits. All plans and manuals that come with the toys are extremely well drawn and understandable by all kids of the assigned age groups. We have never found a box or set with missing or not fitting parts! The great love to the detail is what makes this series so attractive and beloved by so many children around the world.

3. What it is
Helicopter for rescue missions with medical staff and equipment plus accident victim. Children can learn about medical emergencies, the meaning of some equipment like oxygen masks, drip and stretcher and that timing might be very crucial if something bad happens in life. You can combine the learning/fun experience with explanations of possible emergency situations in your environment and let your children have an insight of possible reactions and situations. Don’t overdo it though, it’s still a game and there is no need to scare them. The idea behind the toy is action, fun, a tiny little insight in medical emergency treatment and again the combination with Playmobil action scenes you might already have. Our son already rescued some princesses and pirates with this new toy. Sky is the limit!

3. What you get
Featured at URL:
http://shop.playmobilusa.com

Another impressive Playmobil package is the Air Rescue 3 kit. The package combines a fairly roomy helicopter with impressive rotor span, three pilot/medical staff figures and one “accident victim” plus a ton of small parts, equipment and devices.

All parts are nicely divided in the box and separately packed-up in smaller plastic bags for easy and step-by-step installation. Again, the explosion map is excellent and all parts fit nicely together. This time I realized what kind of a terrific job the developers have done here: there are two very tiny parts in the cabin of the helicopter that need to be placed inside where adult fingers can not reach. Still, when you just reach inside to place the little parts (arm rests for pilot and co-pilot seats) they snap right into the hole that’s made for them and can not fall out again. This is just another great experience with the engineering of these toys, these folks really think through everything!

First you would have to put the stickers onto the helicopter body. They stick firmly but you can still remove and stick back on if you misplaced them the first time. The stickers show a large No. 3 and the word “Air Rescue” plus some more fancy details. Next there is a rope hoist for the outside that snaps easily in position right above the sliding door. The rope is made of strong yet thin fabric that holds a small metal hook. You get the idea? The rope and hook can hold just about everything your little ones want to “rescue”.

The pilots and medical staff (again, you can exchange all items between them) get helmets with microphone, waistcoats, first-aid-case and even a handle that can be snapped onto the hook. The hit though, is the emergency stretcher where you can place a figure in and tighten it with little, stable but surprisingly flexible and soft (extremely thin) plastic ropes. The “accident victim” figure has a red eye; you can put gypsum legs and arms on it and even a head bandage. Most funny: there are emergency devices like oxygen bottles with hose and mask, drip equipment like in the real emergency world and everything can be mounted inside the helicopter to supply the victim while flying.

These tiny details make the difference to their competition because you not only have a toy here that can conduct missions and operations but you get to explain your children countless details about it! This is what impressed us most with all the Playmobil toys, there is just more about it and that makes it a lot more educational and fun at the same time. Out children have learned a ton of stuff while playing with these toys that school or any other educational exposure would not have covered at the time. Sometimes we are surprised ourselves how many details they know about hospitals, castles and the life there, police actions, trains, construction zones and many other things.

And it’s always a blast when you little ones “teach” you something they have just learned out found out themselves. Always better than any war or violence game and toy!

4. Backgrounder
Founded as a small German company that focused on compatible vehicles some 27-30 years ago, the concept of offering smaller toys to be matched together to whole environments (LEGO has been doing this as well) has been expanded and made perfect in quality, marketing and strategy over the decades. Meanwhile the company has sold some 13 billion (!!!) pieces of little plastic dolls, vehicles and parts and develops new little worlds every month. You can find hospitals, farms, pirate ships, castles and many other environments with thousands of add-on sets that all match together in size and type of assembly.

Playmobil’s homepage (http://www.playmobil.com) gives you a pretty impressive start by switching heads of all available dolls when viewing their collection. On top of the wonderful toys they offer Fun Parks in Germany, Greece, the United States and France (check their web site for details). You will find Playmobil a company with great dedication and strong focus, a very aggressive (smart) marketing concept that does not allow to copy or abuse their branding concept and tight guidelines for dealerships and online sales. The quality they offer is dedicated to meet the most important goal a toy manufacturer should have: to provide a long lasting fun and educational experience for children of all sorts and ages.

5. Additional Resources
Playmobil interactive, fun web site, featuring Playmobil interactive games and software:
http://www.ubisoft.com/usa/hype/

Retired Playmobil items:
http://www.kidsbiztoys.com/store/playmobil_retired.html

Playmobil motorcycle fanclub, features new, current and retired items and discussion groups:
http://www.firstmoto.ch/Toys/PlayMobile/

Here is a web site from a Japanese Playmobil collector, pretty funny and impressive:
http://www.geocities.com/ant2000_jp/index.html

6. Conclusion
As already with the police helicopter (see my other review), we discovered that the air has been untapped potential for really creative toys for a long time. Besides war toys and aircraft replica we have not found too many “air toys” that are fun and educational at the same time. Playmobil proved again that they can deal with any environment by keeping their major vision for edutainment toys and quality. We would always recommend any of their scenes, action toys and figures as they provide violent-free and creative basics regardless if reality driven or totally fantastic. This year at Christmas and both birthdays (that all fall within a three-week range with us) our kids got 70% Playmobil stuff and they are still asking for more.

Please, dear parents, do your kids the favor of their and your life and think hard about the signal and effect any toy might have on their development. Buy your children toys that support their positive development and enable them to view and influence their environment with optimism and joy, fantasy and creativity, respect and love.

Playmobil 3908

Police Helicopter

Years ago and as one of my first serious online activities I became a top author at the public opinions and review website epinions.com. As I own the rights of my own reviews that I wrote via alias 401402 I republish them here in my archives.

 

It’s not only Christmas time again, every year end (when our children celebrate their birthdays around the holidays on top of all excitement at this time of the year) we have the blast to find “the perfect gift” again for them. Being a German family we have kept most of our cultural and historical roots and habits alive and so our love for Playmobil toys carried on while residing in the United States, fortunately the German company has expanded to the States and the huge success proves the perfect concept for their toys. See company facts and interesting background information at the end of the review.

Content
1. Introduction
2. What you get
3. What it is!
4. Backgrounder
5. Additional Resources
6. Conclusion

1. Introduction (being repeated in all my Playmobil reviews)
If you have children between 3 and 10 and want them to explore the world and develop fantasy and craft skills with the help of their favorite toys, consider Playmobil as a serious option. Although it’s a bit of a pricey undertaking, especially if you want to add on to existing sets (which is, by-the-way, one of the beautiful and impressive options with Playmobil), the quality and fantasy of these sets in all sizes is unmatched. Not only will you find countless options within the sets to re-assemble them one way or the other, thus constantly change landscapes, but you will find your children stick to their series like treasures. Playmobil has managed to offer little toy worlds out of reality and fantasy to meet extended educational and fun attributes while providing the perfect environment to pick up craftsmanship, motor and concentration skills at the same time as loads of fun and excitement to share among friends and siblings.

The quality is outstanding, every single piece fits perfectly, all parts are exchangeable to open up countless possibilities. The material is un-destroyable by ordinary play habits. All plans and manuals that come with the toys are extremely well drawn and understandable by all kids of the assigned age groups. We have never found a box or set with missing or not fitting parts! The great love to the detail is what makes this series so attractive and beloved by so many children around the world.

2. What you get
Featured at URL:
http://shop.playmobilusa.com/
If you think about Playmobil’s police series (police station with number 3957, or police car set 3904, or the adventure set police station 3085 (see my earlier review), you certainly need to consider the Helicopter Set as it completes any police environment perfectly and puts another dimension into the game (air control).

The little sets consists of the helicopter body with rotating rotors and glass cover (removable) that have to be assembled. The fire extinguisher is the same you get for the adventure set police station and is again a wonderful example of their intention to match reality perfectly – very detailed work!

A German Shepherd, marked as police dog that can move all legs and the head up and down and the pilot and another policeman complete the set with additional items like a hand-map that fits into the hand of either the pilot or co-pilot. Additionally there is a ladder that can be hung onto the helicopter for rescue operations.

All parts fit perfectly together again, assembly took about 6 minutes. Regardless when and where you buy some other components of the police series, (if you buy them in the States, because other countries feature different colors and programs) colors and options fit perfectly together, even across series.

3. What it is
This set is a wonderful smaller gift as a standalone set or additional component for existing police environments. The helicopter is big enough to fit in two figures and massive in material, yet not too heavy to carry around. All assembled parts stay in place even with heavy play.

Since all figures and parts can be used separately or together with the helicopter in a mission, the toy can even be shared among several children. But as usual with Playmobil stuff: if you got more sets and environments there are infinitive possibilities to conduct missions with this helicopter set on a farm, hospital, combine with a fire fighter mission or even (you know kids) arrest some pirates off-shore. I am sure our son is going to rescue the princess from the Fairy Tale Castle (#3019 - see older review) several times after Christmas.

4. Backgrounder
Founded as a small German company that focused on compatible vehicles some 27-30 years ago, the concept of offering smaller toys to be matched together to whole environments (LEGO has been doing this as well) has been expanded and made perfect in quality, marketing and strategy over the decades. Meanwhile the company has sold some 13 billion (!!!) pieces of little plastic dolls, vehicles and parts and develops new little worlds every month. You can find hospitals, farms, pirate ships, castles and many other environments with thousands of add-on sets that all match together in size and type of assembly.

Playmobil’s homepage (http://www.playmobil.com) gives you a pretty impressive start by switching heads of all available dolls when viewing their collection. On top of the wonderful toys they offer Fun Parks in Germany, Greece, the United States and France (check their web site for details). You will find Playmobil a company with great dedication and strong focus, a very aggressive (smart) marketing concept that does not allow to copy or abuse their branding concept and tight guidelines for dealerships and online sales. The quality they offer is dedicated to meet the most important goal a toy manufacturer should have: to provide a long lasting fun and educational experience for children of all sorts and ages.

5. Additional Resources
Playmobil interactive, fun web site, featuring Playmobil interactive games and software:
http://www.ubisoft.com/usa/hype/

Retired Playmobil items:
http://www.kidsbiztoys.com/store/playmobil_retired.html

Playmobil motorcycle fanclub, features new, current and retired items and discussion groups:
http://www.firstmoto.ch/Toys/PlayMobile/

Here is a web site from a Japanese Playmobil collector, pretty funny and impressive:
http://www.geocities.com/ant2000_jp/index.html

6. Conclusion
Regardless of the environment, helicopter missions fit into any action scenery. The details and options (with the rescue ladder, fire extinguisher, dog and the helicopter itself) make this set a perfect vehicle of children fantasies again. Playmobil very well understands the “hands-on” importance of their toys, the possibilities are endless again.

After I put the helicopter together I asked my wife last weekend: “Why, the heck, can’t we be kids again?”

Please, dear parents, do your kids the favor of their and your life and think hard about the signal and effect any toy might have on their development. Buy your children toys that support their positive development and enable them to view and influence their environment with optimism and joy, fantasy and creativity, respect and love.

If you want to do something heroic this Christmas, invest a couple of bucks into a useful, positive toy and give it to a child with little hope for the future. You might end up changing the world with this little gesture!

Playmobil 3085

Police Set

Years ago and as one of my first serious online activities I became a top author at the public opinions and review website epinions.com. As I own the rights of my own reviews that I wrote via alias 401402 I republish them here in my archives.

It’s not only Christmas time again, every year end (when our children celebrate their birthdays around the holidays on top of all excitement at this time of the year) we have the blast to find “the perfect gift” again for them. Being a German family we have kept most of our cultural and historical roots and habits alive and so our love for Playmobil toys carried on while residing in the United States, fortunately the German company has expanded to the States and the huge success proves the perfect concept for their toys. See company facts and interesting background information at the end of the review.

Content
1. Introduction
2. What you get
3. What it is!
4. Backgrounder
5. Additional Resources
6. Conclusion

1. Introduction (being repeated in all my Playmobil reviews)
If you have children between 3 and 10 and want them to explore the world and develop fantasy and craft skills with the help of their favorite toys, consider Playmobil as a serious option. Although it’s a bit of a pricey undertaking, especially if you want to add on to existing sets (which is, by-the-way, one of the beautiful and impressive options with Playmobil), the quality and fantasy of these sets in all sizes is unmatched. Not only will you find countless options within the sets to re-assemble them one way or the other, thus constantly change landscapes, but you will find your children stick to their series like treasures. Playmobil has managed to offer little toy worlds out of reality and fantasy to meet extended educational and fun attributes while providing the perfect environment to pick up craftsmanship, motor and concentration skills at the same time as loads of fun and excitement to share among friends and siblings.

The quality is outstanding, every single piece fits perfectly, all parts are exchangeable to open up countless possibilities. The material is un-destroyable by ordinary play habits. All plans and manuals that come with the toys are extremely well drawn and understandable by all kids of the assigned age groups. We have never found a box or set with missing or not fitting parts! The great love to the detail is what makes this series so attractive and beloved by so many children around the world.

2. What you get
Featured at URL:
http://shop.playmobilusa.com

Other than the bigger police station with number 3957, this is not only a building to be completed by several smaller sets (like police car set 3904, etc.) but you already have a lot of stuff to find a little play world completed here. The set comes with the (above mentioned) police car plus two policemen, a biker with “Harley”, a gangster (just like a bad guy has to look like – unshaved – that will put me in trouble and I am only wondering when I will be thrown in jail from my son the first time after denying the daily shaving routine at Christmas time ;-))), several street signs and road construction items, chairs and tables for the police office and even “wanted” posters and a satellite dish are included in the package.

Assembling the station (where you will find a little jail, that can be locked) is very easy for adults and should not be a problem at all after showing and trying one or two times for children to repeat the steps and even try new things to put the pieces together (and apart for that matter). The explosion plans show every single detail for assembly and the parts involved at every single step.

By-the-way: the police sets are available in different colors and layouts depending on region Playmobil sells these sets to. In Germany for example you will find the car green/white like in reality and some police sets that are sold in the States feature African American policemen to match reality better.

3. What it is
The set is a fully equipped one-story police station building with office space, jail and entrance area. For better reach the house is cut in half and accessible from the closed side through doors and windows too. Other than the single parts that you have to combine to complete landscapes or environments this set features several additions already.

The police car with policemen: nice blinking lamps that can be switched on with a push button but switch off automatically after 5 seconds so the batteries don’t get drained too quickly when your child would forget to switch it off. Plus the office staff and equipment like phone, fire extinguisher, the biker with motorcycle and construction zone items.

Your child will find a complete, realistic and fun to play with police environment that will not get bored too quickly and Playmobil offers a lot of add-on’s like the police helicopter (part number 3908, see other review about the item) that we bought for December 6th, the day when children get their first Christmas related gift in Germany – Santa Claus day.

4. Backgrounder
Founded as a small German company that focused on compatible vehicles some 27-30 years ago, the concept of offering smaller toys to be matched together to whole environments (LEGO has been doing this as well) has been expanded and made perfect in quality, marketing and strategy over the decades. Meanwhile the company has sold some 13 billion (!!!) pieces of little plastic dolls, vehicles and parts and develops new little worlds every month. You can find hospitals, farms, pirate ships, castles and many other environments with thousands of add-on sets that all match together in size and type of assembly.

Playmobil’s homepage (http://www.playmobil.com) gives you a pretty impressive start by switching heads of all available dolls when viewing their collection. On top of the wonderful toys they offer Fun Parks in Germany, Greece, the United States and France (check their web site for details). You will find Playmobil a company with great dedication and strong focus, a very aggressive (smart) marketing concept that does not allow to copy or abuse their branding concept and tight guidelines for dealerships and online sales. The quality they offer is dedicated to meet the most important goal a toy manufacturer should have: to provide a long lasting fun and educational experience for children of all sorts and ages.

5. Additional Resources
Playmobil interactive, fun web site, featuring Playmobil interactive games and software:
http://www.ubisoft.com/usa/hype/

Retired Playmobil items:
http://www.kidsbiztoys.com/store/playmobil_retired.html

Playmobil motorcycle fanclub, features new, current and retired items and discussion groups:
http://www.firstmoto.ch/Toys/PlayMobile/

Here is a web site from a Japanese Playmobil collector, pretty funny and impressive:
http://www.geocities.com/ant2000_jp/index.html

6. Conclusion
Everyone who knows Playmobil toys (and you can certainly see that on the average ratings here at Epinions.com) is in love with their work and with whatever they own from the huge collection of sets, figures, vehicles and buildings. It would be interesting when the first collectors start global shows to show off their complete fantasy (or reality) worlds made of Playmobil items. The mix and match of reality and fantasy, combined with the educational potential and fun every child can experience with Playmobil makes it an option to look into, especially as compared to so many useless and even disturbing toys.

Please, dear parents, do your kids the favor of their and your life and think hard about the signal and effect any toy might have on their development. Buy your children toys that support their positive development and enable them to view and influence their environment with optimism and joy, fantasy and creativity, respect and love.

If you want to do something heroic this Christmas, invest a couple of bucks into a useful, positive toy and give it to a child with little hope for the future. You might end up changing the world with this little gesture!

Happy Christmas!

Saratoga Avenue

CRM Software

Years ago and as one of my first serious online activities I became a top author at the public opinions and review website epinions.com. As I own the rights of my own reviews that I wrote via alias 401402 I republish them here in my archives.

Content
1. Introduction
2. Experience background
3. Environment
4. System requirements
5. Why successful sales operations need a CRM
6. What it is
7. How it works
8. Features
9. Our example
10. Conclusion

1. Introduction
Still remember the best deals of your life on used cars or gray market football tickets? There are quite some things in life you can’t beat, especially if you made a good deal with something you really liked. You may not remember the fellow that sold you the tickets (and he could easily have sold them for the double price) but it was a one time deal anyway. Sigh – if only all deals were that easy...

All too often we do not feel very well if someone tries to sell us anything, or worse: if we need to sell something to someone who does not want us to sell them something...

Regardless of the counter side and object to be negotiated about, one thing needs to be clear to sellers and buyers alike: a good business is only one both parties remember positively! A solid, faithful, harmonic, friendly and reliable customer relation can only be based on a positive experience and will result in the desire to repeat that positive experience. Now, in order to know about your customers, treat them the right way, have the right offer handy at the right time and place, you need some support in the modern world.

CRM software (Customer Relationship Management) can do a fantastic job in targeting customers and follow up in all matters of the promotion, sales, order and follow-up process. One thing though needs to be understood in the first place: database operating CRM software packages can only deliver satisfying results when common data across all operational units really click!
It’s very well known in the IT world as the “sh*t-in / sh*t-out principle”.

Avenue is a highly awarded CRM software package that beats competition by its flexibility in use for both ends, the users and administrators. Data integration from all sides of the enterprise can be done very intuitively and beneficial for the end users.

2. Experience background
I am currently championing the nationwide implementation and integration of our CRM package that is based on our BPSC mainframe database system, which serves at the same time as backbone of our eCommerce approach. Being the first specialty chemicals company worldwide with an individualized eCommerce effort with life data off our systems is quiet exciting. Even more since we are aiming to combine internal and external resources and live transactions into our CRM software that is available online and off-line at every sales rep’s laptop. Saratoga Avenue is our standard package for the individual business approach we take with a customer relationship software and I am responsible for managing the implementation and constant improvements of the tool.

3. Environment
Cross-mainframe networking worldwide with a dedicated Avenue server to collect, distribute and exchange data between all data systems utilizing Microsoft Server applications, BPCS corporate data mainframes and Windows NT 4.0 on the user end. Our company uses Avenue 4.1.2 at the moment.

4. System requirements
As a 32-bit application designed for Windows 95 and Windows NT, Avenue has the same minimum hardware requirements as these operating systems. Additional requirements are necessary for Avenue remote users.

Hardware
PC or laptop with the sufficient resources to run Windows 95 or Windows NT (recommended minimum: 486/50Mhz,16 MB RAM).

Remote User Requirements
Hayes compatible modem, or any asynchronous modem, with a minimum transfer rate of 2,400 baud (28,800 baud is recommended).

5. Why successful sales operations need a CRM
Imagine you got 50 customers and prospects, 1,300 products in 8 operational divided application fields at your customers industries, different seasonal and product performance requirements and even prices vary from customer to customer. Some customers are small, some bigger with many smaller operations in different regions. Other issues are different delivery and packaging requirements, sampling habits and many more specifics that you actually need to grant your customers before the competition does...

In order to not only track all transactions but be able to create reports, overviews and summarizing communication interfaces with mostly live data, combined with your own information about targets, events, prospects, deals and efforts – you need some support that does not add on to your daily struggle with all issues but helps to resolve them as well.

What you actually want is someone or something that knows all details about anything that your company (you) knows about the four P’s in marketing: Product, Place, People, Price. And you need a tool that helps you to decide how to prioritize your four-P activities. A solid and reliable, yet very flexible CRM program comes on handy on this major task and I believe my company took the right choice with Saratoga Avenue.

6. What it is
Avenue is a very flexible enterprise wide information system. Data from mainframe or other database applications can be downloaded into the package on demand and are available off-line in tailor-made screens depending on the common data base and viewing/reporting requirements of a company or other organization.

In short: If you need to provide selected information to a certain population of the company, you can create specific screens that receive data from any database via network or modem. Your sales force, for example, can thus view customer, order and other information off-line while traveling. Updates can be made regularly (e.g. daily).

7. How it works
First of all an enterprise needs to make absolutely sure that the data base for a system like this is properly designed, developed and maintained. Whatever information is provided in Avenue, the data quality is of utmost importance to the acceptance and success of a system like this.

Once your common data is in place and runs reliably it is only a question of definition for your requirements how to utilize Avenue for the organization. Let’s say you want to provide information about your sales activities via Avenue. Avenue provides interfaces and easy to handle programming features to build so called sites for any major activity or objective. Within these sites data fields can show retrieved data and/or take input to transport onto the host database application. Data input needs to be defined very carefully as you might know because any database entry needs to follow designed formats, again: sh*t-in/sh*t-out principle!

The sales force can then use the program for viewing and entering crucial data regarding the sales process in total plus important corporate information and additional data that might be of interest to them.

Administrative work (as with any multi-user approach with data integration and exchange) needs to be policed and defined very carefully with sufficient capacity to coach the system and drive improvements. The ease of use on all ends (especially on the administrator side) makes it fun and very valuable to constantly improve the screens and data exchange properties with Avenue. You can easily start “low key” and increase functionality along the way. Since all screens are designed using the same common sense, working with the finalized program (regardless of content) is not only fun but also very helpful indeed.

8. Features
Toolbars and menus can be freely configured from administrators and users alike without interfering with the database and content of the sites. Search functions are available as well for single and combined search. Contact, Notes and schedule are compatible with multiple software packages that are widely used in corporations. Web access is available and in fact there are many companies with B2B live web content (e.g. industry specific libraries) that plan interfaces for Saratoga Avenue to provide live content to the user stations of the program. One example for our company is Chemidex.com, an online library for technical information about certain chemicals (pigments, additives, resins and the likes). If you post your documents with them they report back into Avenue which of your customers has read the documents, ordered samples and all visit data like period of time, hit frequency etc.

Avenue is capable of freely programmable (very easy, even for non-professional users) queries and reporting functions. All data is provided in trees to select for reporting functions, printing and data exchange is a snap when using the queries. Alarms and reminders can be set and for group working dummy sites can be created to host information about prospects and common activities.

Saratoga offers pre-programmed sets of the application for sales, marketing or other units or can be utilized to do the site creation and data integration for you. Different add-ons can be integrated as well or even programmed especially for your operational needs. See a couple of screen and service examples at: http://www.saratogasystems.com/crm/product_2/index.html.

9. Our example
We have created a software package for our sales force with the following sites and detailed screen information within these sites – in ():
- Customer Main sites, either bill-to, parent sites or ship-to operations (sales totals, sales break downs, trends, competition sales, contact information, various other customer information like machinery, end articles etc., pricing, open orders, samples, to do and project screens and other activity screens)
- Prospect sites (same as above without live data for potential customers with planning and targeting tools integrated)
- Product sites (all product related common data like package types, availability, shelf life, order history, price development etc.)

What our users like best about the system is the readily available information about any sales activity with history and archiving. E-mailing out of the customer screens leads to a much more focused account management and exchange of ideas and process development. Our customers like the fact that all our sales reps are extremely good informed even if they have to look up some information but can provide an answer on all details within the minute.

10. Conclusion
Reporting and queries are used on various levels and of the organization for any level of hierarchical report on any type of data. Sales team leaders use different formats as global management but they all use the same database. All information is stored/archived forever and cross-system communication is possible on a global basis. Customer call preparation is basically paper-less as are all meetings and conferences about sales activities. Additionally to the time saving and advantages for customer hand-overs those are already enough fine arguments for the switch over to the future of modern account management.

If you want to make a professional impression with your customers and need to give your sales folks a tool on hand that provides all crucial sales activity data (current and archived) in a very easy to handle and fast working tool, Avenue is the software to check out. You don’t have to worry about acceptance with your employees, after our first presentation of our Avenue based sales reps software we were blown away by their enthusiasm and ongoing support to constantly improve the system to date.