Dirty data plagues CRM deployments

Many CRM deployments are thwarted by faulty, inconsistent data sets that prevent user sites from having a clear, unified profile of each customer, users and others monitoring the CRM industry said. Software companies are beginning to tackle the problem, with Evoke Software and Metagenix selling wares intended to profile data and help clean it up.

“It’s massive,” said Derek Strauss, CEO of Bethesda, Md.-based business intelligence applications host Assurenet, of the problems of data quality in CRM applications. “One of the biggest issues with CRM is obviously to get to know your customer,” Strauss said. “You have to have accurate information, and most of the front end systems which deal with customers do not have accurate information about the customers. There’s disjointed [data], there’s a lot of blanks in some of the critical fields.” Additionally, many business rules intended for databases have been broken, he said.

Even such seemingly small mistakes such as being one digit off on a customer’s street address can plague data sets, said Joe Butt, senior analyst at Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass. This type of problem can lead, for example, to a company sending out multiple direct mailings to the same customer, because the address is listed in two different ways in company databases, Butt said.

Libraries recognized for innovative practices

A Cape Breton library is being recognized for using technology to help it revive part of a dying culture.

Industry Canada chose the Cape Breton regional library, along with 19 other libraries nation-wide, as the winner of the LibraryNet 2001 Best Practices award for innovative use of technology to enhance services to the public. Rosalie Gillis, project coordinator for the Cape Breton library in Sydney, N.S., said the winning project took two years of hard work to develop, but resulted in a searchable database of resources in English and in Gaelic called LeughSeo.

IBM retools WebSphere for remote access

At its recent Solutions developer conference, IBM Corp. announced plans to enhance parts of its WebSphere application server to make it easier for businesses to make information on the Web and in corporate databases available to mobile users, particularly using speech technologies.

IBM said it juiced up its WebSphere Transcoding Publisher (WTP), a component of the application server used to reformat Web content and multimedia files so they can be accessed from PDAs (personal digital assistants), mobile phones and other “pervasive” devices.

The idea is to allow companies to create content once and then reformat it on the fly for delivery to a range of gadgets, IBM said. The technology might be useful to enterprise customers who want to make information stored in corporate databases accessible to workers on the road, or to service providers who offer sports, news and other types of information to users on the move. IBM’s application server competes with comparable offerings from, among others, Oracle Corp. and BEA Systems Inc., both of which are also working hard to bring new remote access and voice capabilities to their products.

Growth in Internet use slows

Despite the decline of the dot-com industry, the popularity of the Internet continues to grow. Nearly six of every ten U.S. homes are now online, according to new figures released by Nielsen/NetRatings.

The Web audience measurement service says that 58 per cent of U.S. households had Internet access in July, a 16 percent increase from one year ago when the rate was 52 per cent.

U.S. households with Internet connections stood at 106.3 million in July 1999. The number grew to 144 million by July 2000 and increased again to 165.2 million in July 2001. Even with a troubled economy and a slump in the computer industry, Internet adoption continues to grow at double-digit annual rates, said Lisa Strand, director and chief analyst for NetRatings Inc.

Strand sees continued growth, but not at the high rates of even one year ago. Continued growth will depend on even more aggressive use by existing Web users and increased adoption of the technology by the mainstream United States.

IBM dumps AMD from North American PCs

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) lost some ground in its evolving price war with Intel Corp. as IBM Corp. said it will drop AMD’s Athlon microprocessors in PCs sold in North America.

IBM offered AMD chips as a build-to-order option for consumer models, but discontinued the AMD option in May. The IBM NetVista A40i consumer PC will no longer offer the AMD processor as an option and will only be sold with an Intel chip, said Anouk Bikkel, an IBM spokeswoman in Europe. IBM hopes to make its NetVista offering more clearly defined to customers by making it all Intel-based, she said.