Technology news update, compiled by Antonio Fabrizio


ALFA v5 launched

UK asset finance software specialist CHP
Consulting has just released ALFA v5, the latest version of its
flagship end-to-end ALFA software.

Officially introducing the new version earlier this
month at the Swiss Re building in London, CHP Consulting sales and
marketing director Andrew Denton said: “Based on what the industry
told us, we decided to change ALFA’s technical platform to make use
of new technologies so we could deliver more.”

The company explained that, compared to ALFA’s
previous version v4, v5 is a “technology refresh” rather than a new
functional set, because the system has been on the market for over
twenty years and is therefore “already mature”.

Key features of v5 compared to previous versions
include a new technology stack, an end-to-end presentation layer,
enhanced functionality with respect to its multilingual and
multi-GAAP capabilities, transportability and what Denton called a
“really sexy” interface.

According to Denton, there is also a “long-term”
benefit to v5, which he summed up as the opportunity to do “stuff
that could actually revolutionise the industry” with it.

One such thing, he said, are “intelligent” or
“self-defining” scorecards. These, which CHP is also about to
release, allow data mining using association pairs in a way that
allows scorecards to “modify themselves”.

In practice, according to Denton, they would work
as it already happens in other fields where data mining techniques
are in use.

For instance, by extracting data relating to
buyers’ habits, a US supermarket chain found that in a certain time
frame, when nappies were bought, so was beer, because fathers
leaving their offices would stop by and buy both.

The data mining picked this up, and the supermarket
decided to put beer next to nappies, which resulted in sales of
both products going up in that time frame.

The company said existing customers will just need
to do an upgrade in order to have the new version, and that many
existing and potential customers have reacted positively to v5,
with a number of them having already committed to it.

CHP’s customers in the fleet offering sector
include fleet management and leasing company Leasedrive Velo. The
launch follows two years of development and a £5 million


AFS contract extended

Masterlease, the
Birmingham-headquartered fleet provider, has extended for three
more years its service booking and downtime management service with
All Fleet Services (AFS).

This new agreement follows a fleet administration
programme contract that the vehicle financing and fleet management
specialist and AFS signed earlier this year to manage drivers’
service booking requests in order to minimise vehicle off road

Anthony Dowdall, head of in life services and
contracts at Masterlease, said: “AFS is a responsive and reliable
supplier and, through its proactive service and integrated
technology offering, we have already reduced our vehicle off road
times by 19 per cent.”

Dave Scobie, MD of Gloucester-based AFS, said he
was delighted that Masterlease had extended the contract, adding
this followed AFS’s capability to “listen to the specific
requirements” of its customers in order to meet their needs.


Co-operative deal

UK’s consumers’ cooperative The
Co-operative Group has selected Jaama’s online fleet management
system to manage over 3,000 vehicles and plans to roll it out for
the rest of its vehicles over the next 12 months.

The company, which currently has over 6,000 cars,
vans and heavier vehicles operating in five business divisions –
food, healthcare, travel, cash-in-transit and funeral care – had
been using a centralised system since the 1990s. This, however,
according to the group transport manager, Ronnie Hutton, had
reached the “end of its useful life” and the company was looking
for a new online system which could provide multi-user access
nationally, as well as new functionalities.

Hutton said: “The business has expanded
significantly in recent years and we wanted our depot managers to
have access to the fleet management system at a local level.”

Hutton explained that the choice to adopt the Key2
system also derived from recently-added features, in particular a
new Electronic Driver Services module, which acts as both a risk
management tool and a driver information portal.

He said: “We looked at many fleet management
systems, but feedback from public and private sector companies that
were already using the Jaama system was important in helping make
our decision.”

Jaama MD Jason Francis commented: “Not only has
Jaama been successful in providing a fleet management software
solution for The Co-operative Group’s complex transport
requirements, but I am delighted that existing customer comments
contributed to that decision.”

The Co-operative has opted for a phased
implementation, which means 2,400 cars and 950 light commercial
vehicles are already on the system.

Leasedrive Velo


Vehicle management provider
Leasedrive Velo Group has introduced a new electronic billing
solution for its rental management customers.

The solution, called e-Invoicing, is expected to
reduce carbon footprint by reducing paper invoicing and deliver a
more efficient and streamlined service.

Leasedrive Velo Group’s commercial director Roddy
Graham said: “Through e-Invoicing, we aim to eliminate at least
180,000 paper invoices annually by the end of 2010, saving
approximately 90 tonnes of CO2 each year.”

He added: “We rolled out e-Invoicing last month to
our customers who now receive their invoices on time, every


Efficiency upgrade

Lease technology supplier icenet has
released a system upgrade in order to increase efficiency and
productivity, the company has announced.

The Harrowgate-based software house, which is part
of The Nostrum Group, said improvements to its software include
rules based debit/credit card processing, an automated bank
reconciliation function and integration with external print and
mail providers.

Icenet CEO Alex Stephen said: “At a time when other
businesses are cutting back on R&D, icenet continues to invest
in technology that is relevant to today’s economic climate and
provides our customer base with vital efficiency, which translates
to competitive advantage.”

The company said that the rules-based debit/credit
card processing engine will allow users to take recurring or
individual payments through the icenet system, and interface
directly to the merchant provider, rather than using a third party
payment processor, providing a more cost-effective service.

The upgraded version is already in use in some of
icenet’s high-volume personal lenders and “has resulted in
significant improvements”, Stephen added.

The company plans to introduce further
functionality targeted to increase lenders’ operational efficiency
and provide business performance knowledge.