Blue Martini Goes Deep
Hoping to ride manufacturers' economic recovery, Blue Martini Software unveiled its next-generation Blue Martini 5 for Manufacturers CRM software. The new release touts improved functionality in all areas of business, from generating leads to handling orders and even driving customer loyalty.
A key upgrade, says Blue Martini, is an enhanced quoting and configuration tool supporting complex pricing policies, as well as business intelligence that tracks the conversion of quotes to orders. Another important upgrade centers on multi-party selling. Blue Martini 5 uses Web services to allow manufacturers' order management systems to integrate with resellers' systems -- that is, multiple systems to process XML orders.
The configuration tool is based on technology from Blue Martini's acquisition of Cybrant. "They're baking that piece in, which is really good because I thought Cybrant had some of the best configuration technology out there," says Kent Allen, research director at Aberdeen Group.
Since manufacturers' products typically flow through the channel, especially with high-tech companies, Blue Martini enables customers to deploy channel portals. In the area of lead management, the heart and soul of partner relationship management (PRM
), Blue Martini 5 automatically distributes leads based on configurable characteristics. Moreover, the software tracks opportunities throughout the sales cycles and, critically, the conversion of leads to orders that show how successful certain channel partners are at closing deals.
The Blue Martini announcement to tackle interactive selling comes at a good time, according to Allen. "The big question out there is when do manufacturers start pushing money back in the marketplace?" he says. When budgets loosen, manufacturers will likely spend dollars on sell-side software. "Manufacturers are shifting away from a supply chain focus to demand chain applications," such as order management, after-selling, merchandising, among others, Allen says.
Of course, the downside for Blue Martini is that many manufacturers will look to their ERP and supply-chain vendors, such as SAP and Baan, to fulfill demand-chain needs, says Allen. "This is Blue Martini's biggest challenge."