Tracking program helps tech vendors gain customer leads

San Diego-based marketing services company Harte-Hanks Market Intelligence recently released Ci Triggers, a program that allows subscribers (mainly tech vendors) to track changes in companies’ IT products and management, thereby gaining potential customer leads.

Harte-Hanks has been collecting this type of information for the last 25 years, according to director of product and marketing Randy Ilas. “We get a lot of feedback,” he said. “We want to understand how these changes take place.”

Ci Triggers allows subscribers to tap into Harte-Hanks’ large database of companies’ IT-related information, from new products to a change in the CIO’s office.

Check-ups on what the company is following – such as service-oriented architecture or open source software – are also added into the database, along with items such as vendor changes, IT budget increases, or even a data centre relocation.

Ilas said that the service is predominantly used by the marketing departments of large technology vendors that want to track who might need what.

The service has already garnered hundreds of subscribers since its April launch.

The information is gathered via telemarketing campaigns, interviews, and e-mailing.

While the public can sometimes have a rocky relationship with telemarketers, Ilas said that the companies it queries never seem cranky about the intrusion.

Said Ilas: “We also are extremely diligent with privacy laws. There’s been no backlash.”

He said businesses need to understand as much about the market as possible, as this makes them more efficient in serving potential clients.

Harte-Hanks has built an Internet software application that generates an XML link that appears in the users’ CRM system or sales force manager, allowing them to track companies they are interested in.

Customers can also use a log-in name and password to access the information via the Web. Subscribers, who prefer to manage their own data, can opt to have requested data sent directly to them in raw form.

Harte-Hanks is in the process of developing an alerts system that would tip subscribers when their CRM system has been updated with new information.

“We’re fairly unique — we’ve been collecting this information for a very long time,” said Ilas. But, according to him, this type of Web-based database that allows users to track company updates, while in its early stages, is on the rise.

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