E.piphany Aims to Raise Stakes in CRM Market

SAN MATEO (07/21/2000) - In the red hot (customer relationship management) space, E.piphany Inc. is edging closer to competitor Siebel Systems Inc. with next week's debut of Epiphany E.5, according to analysts.

By incorporating the technology it acquired from Octane Software Inc. earlier this year, San Mateo, Calif.-based Epiphany is merging analytical and operational CRM in an attempt to best its San Mateo neighbor, as well as other major competitors, Epiphany officials said.

The combination is aimed at customers who are sold on the idea of the importance of a unified customer view, said Paul Rodwick, vice president of product marketing at Epiphany.

The complete view of customers' interactions with a company requires an enterprise to become customer-centric, aligning its divisions to put customer satisfaction and retention as top priorities, Rodwick said. The goal is to let customer information permeate throughout the rest of the enterprise.

Epiphany is aiming to provide the "broadest footprint in the industry," Rodwick said, by bringing together analytical and operational capabilities and offering them in a Web-based format that encompasses customer interactions via direct marketing, call centers, direct sales, e-mail, Web, chat, Web co-browsing, and wireless alerts. The E.5 release also offers real-time reports on how long queues are, how many customers are interacting, and how busy operators are. In addition, Epiphany provides software links to the call centers of major third-party players.

With E.5, available next month, Epiphany has moved "into serious competition with Siebel" and beyond its previous competitors such as Menlo Park, Calif.-based Broadbase Software Inc., Rodwick claimed.

Some industry analysts agreed.

Although Epiphany lacks a field sales-force automation offering -- Siebel's strength -- it could give Siebel a run for its money, said Bob Chatham, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc., in Cambridge, Mass. He added that Epiphany has also significantly expanded its offerings over Broadbase, which this week is unveiling its upgrade, Broadbase 4.0.

"It's a larger question of scope. Broadbase is providing the analytics behind the applications. Somebody else has to provide the application," Chatham said, adding that this entire arena is still very much a multivendor solution.

"I think both [Epiphany and Broadbase] have their weakness," Chatham said.

Without a field sales-force automation offering, Epiphany will have "a steep hill to climb," he said.

And, Chatham said, Epiphany's and Siebel's competitors could catch up, particularly Nortel Networks Corp.'s Clarify, Oracle Corp., and PeopleSoft Inc. and its Vantive Corp. division.

The PeopleSoft/Vantive combination could prove to be a major advantage because "[users] could reach into the back end for inventory, pricing, and ordering information," Chatham said. That information is contained in PeopleSoft's ERP (enterprise resource planning) capabilities.

Art technology group gets personal

With the dramatic growth of online sales and support, businesses need a single technology platform that can manage customer interactions and personalize the experience to gain competitive advantage.

This week, Art Technology Group (ATG), in Cambridge, Mass., will announce enhancements to its Dynamo e-commerce and personalization platform that will let companies better track customers over time and generate tailored marketing campaigns.

Dynamo 5 introduces what ATG calls scenarios, or a sequence of interactions that a business manager or developer can design for specific customers. For example, a scenario could be a promotion to offer an online shopper, if that visitor registers as a regular customer. A second promotion could be generated later if the first promotion was passed up.

Houston-based trading network CheMatch.com plans to use the Dynamo platform in the business-to-business world by letting buyers choose just the products and information that they're interested in seeing from its online catalog, according to Michael Ereli, vice president at CheMatch.com.

Dynamo 5's framework approach, where Java programmers customize the platform, gives more flexibility over pre-packaged applications to re-launch Web applications, ATG officials said. Dynamo 5 will ship in the third quarter of this year and start at $250,000.

"Right now personalization is rudimentary, but as it gets more sophisticated, it will depend on one thing: the amount of data that can be analyzed in that moment," said Matt Calkins, CEO of Appian Communications Inc., an Arlington, Va.-based consultancy. "Most algorithms can only work on a few sets of data at a time."

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