Entellium jumps in

First InfoStreet, now Entellium. Yes, it’s true. The six-year-old company has taken the plunge, hoping to cut a piece of that US $5.7 billion CRM software market. The Seattle, Wash.-based Entellium unveiled a product that enables access to its software as a desktop application. On the same day, Entellium representatives announced the company will put CRM software on mobile devices, and living up to the company motto “one thumb access,” press material claims it can be used as easily as an iPod.

Entellium promises that, with minimal training, a company’s representatives move quickly via a thumb wheel through nested menus to call up the most recent account data, including each step of a loan application’s workflow.

The eMobile application requires about 400 to 500KB of memory to run. “It’s a pretty robust little application,” says Michael Colagrossi, a principal with First Rate of Bellevue, Wash. and happy customer of Entellium. “When Apple decided to make the iPod, they looked at the overall music listening scenario and created a device around that,” said Entellium chief executive officer Paul Johnston, who once worked in sales for the computer maker. “We, too, are at the end of the spectrum.” Entellium representatives often mention the big three in CRM these days; indeed, when making the announcement regarding the big leap into the unknown, Johnston introduced his two products citing as competition Salesforce.com, Oracle, and SAP.

Entellium intelligence, however, knows the competition comes from firms such as Best Software, FrontRange Solutions, NetSuite, RightNow Technologies and Sage, all of whom focus on Entellium’s true market of small- and medium-sized businesses. And E-mobile is touted as “Entellium’s answer to Salesforce.com’s mobile service.” Entellium explicitly wishes to top the giants in price as well, and analysts feel Entellium they can: Salesforce.com services often run as high as $80, while Entellium charges $60 per month with no add-ons.

Entellium made another nice move recently, signing a partnership with Verizon Wireless to market and sell its CRM software to Verizon’s small- and medium-sized business customers, one-third of which Johnston and co. claim are on Verizon. Verizon Wireless along with the partnership signed a deal to offer the new eMobile as part of its wireless sales force automation offering for business users, and the service will be marketed and sold by the cellular carrier.

Yankee Group analyst Sheryl Kingstone opines on RedHerring.com that the new partnership may further boost Entellium sales, which grew 285 percent in 2005. Entellium, however, has yet to turn a profit. Along with the announcement, Johnston commented a bit on future plans. Entellium is in discussion with a European mobile carrier to carry out a deal similar to that of Verizon’s. The CEO believes the company will go public and does not rule out the acquisition of Entellium by “a larger competitor.” (Oracle, are you listening? CDC, maybe?) Additionally, Johnston has found a low-cost solution to development via outsourcing to Malaysia and via use of “several methods to control costs,” which can probably be pretty easily discernable.

Johnston and others at the firm should be well familiar to Malaysia, as this was the original home base of Entellium up to 2003. The news of the selling out of Entellium is in the winds lately due to the far-reaching, recently released Gartner report on acquisitions; the jist of the study is simply that no letup in merger activity in the CRM industry even after Oracle’s massive buyouts of Siebel and PeopleSoft. Gartner report authors cited CRM founders who were “selling out in capitulation” or giving up due to “the slow or negative pace of growth,” and now it is extremely difficult not to include Johnston among them.

Salesforce, according to the study, “has the resources and desire to gain scale and close the gap with two market leaders” and that “Oracle has not finished purchasing CRM vendors.” Many believe that Entellium is overdue to be swallowed by a bigger fish. Founded in 2000,Entellium is an on-demand CRM software provider which specialized in small- and mid-sized companies. Formerly the headquarters of the firm, Malaysia now hosts the Entellium global research and development center.

The Entellium board now calls Seattle, Wa. home. Entellium’s main desktop and server application is eSalesForce, a Web-based CRM application that, as PR reminds us, “competes with products from Netsuite and Salesforce.com.”

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