Magazine article CRM Magazine

A Prescription for Ricohvery: Office Automation Meets SFA with ACT! and WiredContact

Magazine article CRM Magazine

A Prescription for Ricohvery: Office Automation Meets SFA with ACT! and WiredContact

Article excerpt

Acquisitions can bathe a company in the sunny glow of merger fever, but that ignores the deeper symptoms of confusion and reduced efficiency as the merged businesses try to fit themselves together. Ricoh Business Systems (RBS), a subsidiary and direct product provider of Ricoh Company, caught this corporate illness back in 2002, when it tripled its sales force and inventory as the result of two major operational changes. "We had just purchased a large dealership and merged with another Ricoh division," recalls Mike Nelson, general manager of sales at Ricoh Corp. "We added two offices in the process, for a total of five Philadelphia-area locations and 57 sales reps."

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The expansion gave Ricoh a much stronger presence in the regional marketplace, but it also meant that personnel was using a mix of data management systems with little or no integration. Just prior to the acquisitions RBS had turned to ACT! as its sales management solution, but that wasn't the case with the new additions. Forcing the disparate operations together led to data synchronization hiccups, increased manual data entry, and attendant security concerns.

Ricoh prospered despite the problems of merging operations, and upgraded to ACT! 2005 when it became available, contracting Bob Purdy, owner of Automated Sales, the local ACT! Certified Consultant. The newer, more powerful version of the venerable contact manager-cum-SFA application unified the company's approach, but it didn't solve the issue of scalable synchronization. ACT! is designed for installations of 50 licenses or so, which meant that Ricoh was pushing the limits of the software. "The amount of synch needed to keep all our data fresh in ACT! would have been impossible," Nelson says, so he turned to Purdy for further remediation. "Bob had been suggesting WiredContact for a number of years."

WiredContact, the Web-data wrangling application, expands ACT!'s functionality by increasing the number of users it can handle, updating changes to the ACT! database in real time, and adding functions like document sharing, interactive sales reports, and personalized HTML email blasts. Purdy first implemented WiredContact for Ricoh in January 2004; he went one better in June of that year by linking WiredContact to Ricoh's Microsoft Access warehouse inventory database. …

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