One of the world's largest software companies has decided that the CRM business is just too tempting to ignore. Computer Associates (CA) of Islandia, N.Y., recently launched the Intelligent CRM suite, designed for businesses interested in predictive customer analysis and response.
According to Jacob Lamm, CA's senior vice president for CRM, the company's analytical tools, Neugents, have been used in conjunction with CRM efforts for some time. But as predictive analysis is becoming just as much a part of CRM as the traditional sales, marketing and service functions, "The CRM umbrella extended itself to include us," says Lamm. The company was unwilling simply to be a side player in the market, working solely in conjunction with other solutions. "We needed to fill out the suite. When you say you're a ‘CRM vendor,' certain things are implied," he says.
For CA, that meant building its existing help desk, customer intelligence and service personalization technologies into a core product, integrated with a Web and WAP-enabled sales and marketing system licensed from Dublin, Ireland-based eWare. The entire Intelligent CRM toolset runs through a Web interface powered by CA's Jasmine application platform.
By applying Neugents to CRM operations, Lamm says that companies should be able to understand better not only what strategies worked to sell more and sell better in the past, but what will tend to generate positive response in the future.
Sheryl Kingstone, a CRM analyst with the Yankee Group, says that while CA's lack of experience marketing and supporting CRM technologies may be a problem, the goal is sound. "Their vision makes sense," she says, "on the predictive side and the analytical side. Adding intelligence into CRM is needed."
Although CA is a diverse company, it is perhaps best known for high-end mainframe applications and network management systems. In recent times, the CRM market has provided a greener pasture for companies in the stagnant ERP market. Is this a sign that the network management business is no longer what it used to be?
Lamm denies that his company is simply migrating to a hot market. "What the industry does not need is another commodity CRM player. The goal is to leverage what CA does best, and bring that to the CRM space and fill some gaps," he says. He indicated that CRM sales would be kept separate from CA's conventional sales force.
It does appear that CA is genuinely interested in applying its proven technology to CRM operation. Early this year, Unicenter TNG, the company's network management system, will be integrated into the suite as a "CRM command center," allowing administrators to monitor call center efficiency and point-of-contact performance.
Kingstone advised that CA might do well to pursue partnerships with highly visible CRM vendors that are missing crucial predictive capabilities, lest a competitor like E.piphany establish further dominance in predictive CRM.