REVIEWER: Richard Collette, certified Lotus professional principal developer consultant for The Siemon Company.

BACKGROUND: Siemon is a global leader in the design and manufacture of telecommunications cabling systems. The company's products are distributed to end users through a worldwide network of distribution partners. Customers include some of the world's leading commercial and industrial organizations, including General Electric, Yale University, NASDAQ, Sears, AT&T and UPS.

PLATFORMS: Siemon has GLCommunicator installed on an application server hosting multiple applications with hardware specs: Compaq ML530, 640MB RAM, RAID5, Dual Pentium Xeon 833MHz, running Windows NT 4.0 SP6a. Related Oracle server is running Oracle8i (8.1.6) on the same hardware platform.

PROBLEM SOLVED: To support our distributors, Siemon issues a series of mailings throughout the year with the latest product news, Web site updates, pricing details and more. However, as our network of partners continued to grow, this was becoming an increasingly costly and time-consuming endeavor. We needed to ensure our distribution partners were fully up to date, and we found that paper-based mailings are simply not efficient or cost-effective. We needed a way to reduce our information delivery costs and manage our relationships with our distribution partners in a more timely and targeted manner.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: One of Siemon's key requirements was to make sure the e-mails we delivered using GLCommunicator were fully customized, offering information that was directly relevant to each individual contact. For example: a mailing intended for an installer shouldn't arrive in the hands of a consultant or distributor. Implementing GLCommunicator's ODBC, Siemon was able to create SQL VIEWS to drive its mail lists ­ automatically building targeted user lists. This enabled the delivery of individually tailored messages to our partners based on specific criteria. GLCommunicator automatically extracts the necessary information from the data source, assembles the job and delivers the e-mail to the appropriate recipient. Each message contains a summary of updates along with customized links to areas on our Web site, enabling partners to click and view the complete information.

STRENGTHS: As a Web- based solution, GLCommunicator was extremely easy for Siemon to set up with no client install required. User-friendly GUIs and sensible defaults make administration simple, and GLCommunicator integrated seamlessly with our existing infrastructure. Performance is excellent; a typical posting to 17,000 contacts can be sent within an hour.

WEAKNESSES: Originally we were using an Oracle driver for GLCommunicator's connection to our Oracle database. Having suffered from minor problems, we discovered GLCommunciator only supports connections through MS drivers. We changed to the MS driver and everything works fine. After discussions with Gordano, this is something that is being looked into and different drivers will be supported in future versions.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Having conducted a significant amount of research for a solution, Siemon selected GLCommunicator, an advanced CRM tool set designed to help simplify customer and partner interactions via e- mail and the Web. Other systems we looked at required a significant investment in both money and effort. GLCommunicator provided us with the functionality we needed at a reasonable price without the costs or complexity of other solutions.

DELIVERABLES: GLCommunicator's advanced features and functionality make it easy for us to maintain personal relationships with our partners in a sophisticated way. By streamlining company communications, GLCommunicator has allowed Siemon to reduce time to market for new products and product updates and solidify our position as a leader in the marketplace. Siemon will typically receive a sharp increase of hits to our Web site on the following business day. Following an initial distribution to 17,000 contacts, the company garnered an average of over 3,000 responses ­ representing an impressive 18 percent response rate.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Support has been good. Gordano offers free e-mail support for all their products with the ability to check messages to and from support via their Web site. During our testing, we suggested some enhancements to features which have now been scheduled for inclusion in future releases.

DOCUMENTATION: Documentation is good. Each GUI has a life preserver offering context-sensitive help. Online manuals are included in .pdf format for printing if required.

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