In recent years, competitors of Encoda Systems have attacked the manufacturer of traffic, billing and automation systems by saying its core technology was outdated. Today, Encoda is battling that criticism by integrating an online Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system from Salesnet into its own Media Exec CRM software package.
"This is the first of many steps in updating and unifying our technology," says John Sorensen, president of Encoda Systems Broadband. "It's a Dotnet application and represents the leading-edge direction we're heading in with our new products."
The Media Exec system is currently aimed at TV stations and smaller cable MSOs and will be offered to larger companies in about three months. The PC-based system is designed for sales executives and station management, integrating sales-proposal and order management with sales- force automation.
Salesnet's application will be incorporated as the front end of the Media Exec. The graphical user interface (GUI) will send sales data to Salesnet servers accessible to users via the Internet. Among its other features a patent-pending workflow technology that allows the station to lay out a consistent selling process across an organization.
"That methodology can go down to the granular level, mapping out all activities to guide the sales team through the sales process [the station desires]," says Dan Starr, chief marketing officer at Salesnet.
Starr says another strength is the simplicity of the GUI, an important step in making sure users take full advantage of the tools at their disposal.
"If the user doesn't want to use it, then the manager can't get the reports wanted," he explains. "This is an online secure product that is coupled with the idea of being a virtual coach that can set appointments for the sales staff."
The Media Exec system will cost around $60 per user per month. Starr adds that, because the system is accessed over the Web, the user can quickly add the system, get it configured and be up and running. Data storage on Salesnet servers adds another cost saving: There is no need for internal IT support because Salesnet will handle those duties. Encoda's other traffic and billing systems tie into those servers as well, smoothing out the selling-to-billing-to-airplay process.
"This is the type of direction we're heading with our new products, putting more tools on the desktop of the account executive," Sorensen says.