OS/400 Edition
Volume 2, Number 24 -- June 25, 2002

Touchtone Expands CRM Package to Include ERP Features

by Dan Burger

Enterprise resource planning is designed to streamline business procedures by sharing information. It takes time and money--typically a lot of both. To create a similar system that is quicker to implement and less expensive to purchase, Touchtone Corporation has introduced Wintouch ERM, software that combines customer data and back-office information. ERM is short for enterprise resource management, which, in the case of Wintouch ERM, is an enhancement of Touchtone's customer relationship management software, called eCRM.


Wintouch eCRM is an application suite that is somewhat unique, in that it runs solely on the ""OS/400 platform. With integrated modules--such as contact management, customer service, and sales force automation--Wintouch eCRM is designed to improve the customer service experience for companies looking to enhance their existing ERP system from such vendors as J.D. Edwards or MAPICS. The application is accessed through a Java applet that downloads from an AS/400 or iSeries server to the Web browser on a thin client or PC. Data can also be accessed using remote sync or real-time wireless access. (See the article "Touchtone Debuts Wireless CRM Offering" ""for more information on the wireless remote access.)

Because Wintouch ERM is an extension of Wintouch eCRM, it is also accessible by any Java-enabled browser. And because it' runs on OS/400, it uses a native DB2/400 database to provide back-end enterprise and ERP integration. One benefit of its Web-based implementation is that it eliminates client installation, which saves time and cuts costs on upgrades. And its search capabilities allow a wide variety of data fields to be selected for one-time or periodic Boolean searches.

Depending on the amount of customization applied, Wintouch ERM can provide access to ERP application data from accounting, production, inventory, or engineering. Wintouch ERM also features its own integrated e-mail as well as mail merge with Microsoft Word. Both are useful in expediting single-template or group-template communications, as well as automatically logging client contact and scheduling follow-up activities. The amount of customization required depends on the extent of a company's existing applications and how much back-end data a company wants to bring to the Web. The cost is directly related to the amount of coding required, so companies with RPG programmers can benefit by having their own programmers involved in this task, rather than being charged by the vendor.

The 5250 terminal emulation provides access to enterprise green-screen applications, in the office or in the field.

Wintouch also allows users to customize the GUI. The design allows front-end database fields to be determined, grouped, organized, presented, and named to meet the unique needs of each enterprise. Language localization is a simple table-entry process, rather than a programming process.

All database information resides on the enterprise server, and access is protected by an ID and an encrypted password. No database records reside on desktop or laptop units, which minimizes the opportunity for unauthorized electronic copying of valuable customer data.

With its roots in CRM technology, Wintouch ERM is customer-data friendly. One of its handy sales force automation features is the capability to link one contact to many accounts without having to enter the contact information separately for each account. This feature also enables an activity or sequence of activities to be scheduled for many account contacts from one entry.

Wintouch eCRM customers have received Wintouch ERM as an upgrade package at no extra charge. Touchtone uses an annual service contract, based on a total number of seats and concurrent users, to collect revenue, rather than charging for software upgrades.

According to a company spokesperson, typical implementation projects fall into a range of between two and eight weeks. As with most implementations, increasing customization directly affects the amount of implementation time and corresponding expenses. Touchtone uses a "train the trainer" approach to putting a customer on the road to self-sufficiency.

Touchtone charges $4,995 for a server license, and between $700 and $1,500 per concurrent user. The implementation and integration costs typically fall between 50 and 100 percent of license costs.

For more information, contact Touchtone at

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News Briefs and Product Shorts

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Managing Editor
Shannon Pastore

Contributing Editors:
Dan Burger
Joe Hertvik
Shannon O'Donnell
Timothy Prickett Morgan

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Last Updated: 6/25/02
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