IT Focus news briefs, June 1, 2004

New marketing software hits the street

Business intelligence-software maker SAS Inc. in May unveiled Marketing Automation (MA) 4, a software package meant to make marketing initiatives simple for companies to create. MA 4 is the first product built to operate on SAS’s latest business intelligence platform, SAS 9, which was released at the end of March. SAS announced MA 4 at the 29th SAS User Group International (SUGI) conference, held in Montreal. According to company representatives, MA 4 provides data management and marketing campaign creation capabilities, as well as predictive analysis that allows businesses to go beyond rudimentary customer segmentation based on household incomes and age groups. “It’s great to be able to execute marketing campaigns, but it’s even better to be able to identify segments within your customer base that are more likely to cancel their subscriptions with you and go to a competitor,” says Cameron Dow, SAS Canada’s vice-president of marketing, explaining MA 4’s mandate: to provide the sort of information that a company might use to save accounts or ramp up new ones. Dow says SAS 9, MA 4’s underlying platform, provides an easy-to-use management console that gives IT a view of the enterprise’s entire SAS infrastructure.

Encrypting emoticons

Companies trying to keep end users from relying on publicly available and potentially unsecured Instant Messaging (IM) programs might find a more business-friendly alternative in Kranos Security Technologies’ enterprise IM service, according to the company. Dublin, Ireland-based Kranos in May announced its business-class IM product, MessageMate, a program that uses digital signatures and public key encryption (PKI) technology to ensure that IM messages remain safe from prying eyes. The firm touts MessageMate as a secure correspondence mechanism for employees, and for businesses that connect with customers, suppliers and partners. In a May statement, Kranos points out that IM “has failed to gain traction in the business community due to security…worries.” Kranos says MessageMate employs a “distributed security — centralized administration (DCSA)” approach to protection. DCSA means systems-administrators can ensure that users employ digital signatures and encryption. Administrators can also turn on the logging feature, as well as spam filtering and content filtering. “We believe that, more often than not, the end user is the wrong person to make decisions related to security,” says Terry Wymer, Kranos’ CEO. “Our approach has been to take very strong, complex security and hide it from the end user.”

Siebel spreads in retail banking

Business software provider Siebel Systems Inc. says it has acquired Eontec Ltd., a retail-banking solution company. Now Siebel’s product portfolio includes branch-teller and Internet banking systems, according to a statement from the firm. Siebel will roll Eontec’s technology into Siebel Branch Teller, which combines customer data with financial transaction capabilities for improved sales at branches, and Siebel Branch Platform Sales and Service, which provides real-time branch performance data through analytic software. Siebel will also use Eontec’s wares for a new Internet banking system. Siebel says the new products will integrate with its current financial-transaction, marketing, sales, service and business-intelligence offerings. Siebel also points out that its portfolio now spans the breadth of customer contact channels from branch locations to the call centre, the Web and ATMs. Eontec’s workers get to keep their jobs, although they’ll count as employees of Siebel’s retail finance division. Siebel says it will support Eontec products “indefinitely.” According to Thomas Siebel, Siebel’s chairman and CEO, the Eontec acquisition speaks to a trend in the retail banking industry, as firms in this sector learn that branches must operate as “customer-centric sales and service centres that work seamlessly in concert with other channels. To do so, they require next-generation technology that not only replaces outdated teller systems, but also leverages CRM and business intelligence tools.”

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