Cape Clear, tie CRM knot

Web services player Cape Clear Software Inc. and Inc. teamed Monday on an integration solution aimed at helping companies tie their sales force automation software to back-end applications and databases.

By using Web services to blend customer data with other enterprise applications such as billing, Cape Studio 3 for spares users a typically complex and costly EAI (enterprise application integration) implementation, said Annrai O'Toole, CEO at Cape Clear, in Dublin, Ireland.

"With Web services, you get a standards-based approach that enables low-cost CRM [customer relationship management] integration," O'Toole said. "There's no need for proprietary messaging and connectors, or an army of consultants to deploy them."

Absent an integration plan, companies are often faced with manual drudgery; for example, employees are required to re-key customer data from a sales force automation package into the back-end financials system that generates an invoice.

San Francisco-based's ASP-based CRM package sports an XML interface that users access primarily through a browser. Using Cape Clear's CapeStudio development environment,'s XML APIs are converted into Web services, which then can be integrated with back-end systems including Java or mainframe applications.

So, for example, when a sales executive marks a customer as "invoiced" in his system, an event trigger happens automatically, publishing the customer data as a Web service that will communicate the need for an invoice to the company's financial system, according to Cape Clear officials.

Momentum behind the Web services approach to CRM integration should come as no surprise, according to analysts.

"I don't think that Web services is the only thing you will need for integration," said Tyler McDaniel, director of application strategies at Hurwitz Group in Framingham, Mass. "However, the ability to agree on interfaces and protocols improves time to market and provides a cost-effective way to integrate data and application information."

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