As enterprises demand better tools to exploit mounds of customer data locked away in CRM systems, CRM companies are rushing to add analytical capabilities to their applications.
The push for better data is creating a convergence between traditional business intelligence and CRM, as transactional CRM vendors integrate business-intelligence functions through internal product enhancements or via third-party support.
CRM giant Siebel Systems Inc., based in San Mateo, Calif., plans to announce adapters that link its CRM applications to business-intelligence products from companies such as SAS and SPSS to provide predictive analytics. The move follows Siebel's October announcement to acquire data analysis software vendor nQuire Software Inc., an effort designed to boost its stable of business-intelligence technologies.
For its part, online CRM vendor Salesforce.com Inc. announced in December an agreement with Truis in San Francisco to provide data mining and analysis to Salesforce.com customers.
"What we're ultimately trying to do is pick up where salesforce.com leaves off," and fill the gap that exists in capturing qualitative intelligence about customers, said Jerry McLaughlin, CEO of Truis, in San Francisco.
"This intelligence can actually be used within [an] organization for refining and building marketing strategies [and] leveraging for new opportunities with other prospects," McLaughlin said.
"Through the Truis IQ system, a joint customer [of Salesforce.com and Truis] will be able to take information after a prospect becomes a customer and pull it into the Truis IQ system to basically allow them to analyze and identify cross-sell, up-sell opportunities," said Peter Steinle, director of market development at Salesforce.com, based in San Francisco, Calif.
Pleasanton, Calif.-based PeopleSoft Inc. also announced plans to ship its Customer Behavior Modeling product to complement its CRM platform, PeopleSoft 8. The application uses customer data integrated with behavioural metrics and demographics information to define and select populations of customers and apply data mining to build predictive models and score customers based on relevant criteria.
PeopleSoft 8 itself also features data analysis capabilities, which the company says can detect, for example, which customers are likely to switch to a competitor.
Analytics as CRM prerequisite
"We believe that analytics are a prerequisite component of any CRM deployment," said Robb Eklund, vice-president of CRM product marketing at PeopleSoft.
The benefit of combining the two functions is not lost on IT executives.
Some argue that bolting on analytics to operational CRM may create more work for enterprises. CRM outfit E.piphany Inc. says it has offered business intelligence in its applications from the start.