• May 27, 2008
  • By Jessica Tsai, Assistant Editor, CRM magazine

Bigger, Faster, More Affordable Marketing

Disorganized data doesn't make a marketer's job any easier. Integration is a top marketing initiative and enterprise marketing platform provider Alterian is lending a helping hand with its Marketing Data Infrastructure software, Engine 4.0. The software intends to consolidate all the information and disparate tools a marketer needs in an effort to reduce overall costs and enhance processing speed.

The engine "reduces the number of disparate software products and associated hardware required...[and reduces] hardware costs and administrative and maintenance overhead costs," for both on-demand and on-premise installations, according to the company. Being able to leverage a single machine for multiple deployments simply makes companies more efficient, explains Joe Stanhope, director of global product marketing at Alterian.

Unlike enterprise master data management (which would feed into the Alterian system), this software helps marketers pull together functions specific to marketing needs. The technology includes utilities, administrative tools, analytics, and campaign management tools, as well as what Stanhope describes as a "real-time component for online marketing," all of which are integrated to fit the goals of the marketer. Stanhope anticipates that most, if not all, existing Alterian customers will upgrade to the 4.0 solution; he notes that a couple of companies were so "anxious," they deployed the upgrade a week before the public release.

Database marketing agency Merkle was one of these companies. Christian Wright, chief technology officer at Merkle, says that the upgrade provides significant improvements around performance that the company knew it had to take advantage of. For clients that have large databases, for example, efficiencies around parallel indexing help save Merkle a significant amount of time in terms of performing system queries and data loading.

While the deployment is still new, Wright has seen reductions in index time from eight hours down two or three hours. He hopes to see a 75 percent reduction in load time for its high-volume database clients. In addition, Wright adds, a 50 percent consolidation, or even 25 percent, in footprint its data centers is another goal.

While data servers and data storage are supposedly getting cheaper, Stanhope says that it's going to add up so long as the solutions and the data are housed in various parts of the enterprise. A large retailer, for example, may have to regularly update billions of records in a transaction--a process that may take hours and hours to run before it can be made available for the marketing teams to utilize, Stanhope says. "The laws of physics still apply to computers," he says. "Moving a lot of data still takes time." But this isn't stopping Alterian from equipping marketers with the tools to work better and faster. Ultimately, "Our goal is to be able to bring all this information together in one place and then be able to put applications on top of it so marketers not only have the information in one place but they can start to make sense of it," Stanhope says.

"It's a much needed announcement," says Suresh Vittal, a senior analyst at Forrester Research. Alterian's customers are getting more complex as the company continues to target more enterprise level customers. Therefore, he says, new functionalities such as the ability to deploy multiple data marts and quicker load times are what these high-volume enterprise clients expect. For the rest of the industry, this release speaks to the imminent need for marketing integration and a more powerful marketing engine. With more data sources and more data, Vittal says, "Nobody wants to be in a place where they outgrow their marketing platform."

Related articles:

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Will Marketing Platforms Ever Outperform?
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Gartner Slots Multichannel Campaign Management Vendors
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