Personify debuts single-view CRM platform

The notion of culling information from multiple sources to build a complete picture of a customer has existed for years, but most analytical and CRM (customer relationship management) systems continue to be nothing more than silos of information.

Personalization software vendor Personify Inc. will deliver this week a platform designed to integrate data from various customer "touch points," including call center interactions, Web transactions, and e-mail. The goal, company officials said, is to compile a multifaceted profile of existing and prospective customers.

"We're starting to see RFPs [requests for proposals] from Fortune 500 companies who are saying they need a customer view, not an account view. But they also need a profile of prospects," said Trevor Rubel, director of product strategy at San Francisco-based Personify.

Whereas most corporate data warehouses are structured according to product or account information, Personify CI (customer intelligence) builds a record of events, or customer interactions. It can receive data from other analytical BI (business intelligence) tools, such as those from SAS Institute, as well as from sales force automation, e-commerce, and call center applications.

Homestead.com, a site that offers people the chance to build their own Web sites, has signed on as an early customer of the product. "The unifying information will help us understand our users in a way we couldn't before," said Dave Becker, software engineer team lead for the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company.

"By being able to segment users into different categories, we'll be able to tailor our products to their interests and provide them with a better experience," Becker said.

The company's profile-building and segmentation technology generates a "behavioral profile" by analyzing which sites customers visit and the clickstreaming data created during their visit.

For example, noticing that a customer tends to click on electronics goods will allow a company to offer promotions for that category.

"I used to think of [CI tools] as being on the same level as traffic analysis tools. Now they have pretty complex analytics that will create profiles of customer behavior based partly on navigation but also understanding preferences and creating affinity models," said Lynne Harvey, analyst at the Patricia Seybold Group in Boston. Creating real-time marketing segmentation models based on preferences and behavior is critical, Harvey added, because demographic marketing data can go stale very quickly.

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