Blue Martini Teams with Tibco

A battle royal is shaping up along the CRM front, with back-end integration emerging as the battlefield. Among the latest turn of events, CRM software vendor Blue Martini Software announced an extended alliance with enterprise application integration (EAI) vendor Tibco Software. The plan is to peddle a tightly integrated solution that should result in more efficient sales-ordering processing and tracking, synchronized product and content catalog management, and real-time inventory visibility, Blue Martini claims. Already, Blue Martini is shipping Tibco-based solutions with ties into ERP systems from SAP, JD Edwards, Oracle and PeopleSoft -- all of whom also offer CRM software. Indeed, these vendors contend that their CRM software works better with their ERP software because, naturally, everything comes from a single source. It's a compelling argument considering CRM suite adopters are spending much more on customization and integration than on software licenses. And integration into back-end systems has been cited as one of the top challenges facing CRM projects, and a major reason for failure. "Integration is on everyone's mind," says Karen Smith, research director of CRM at Aberdeen Group. Tibco offers a platform, or bridge, between ERP and more recent CRM and SCM software. Back-end applications plug in one side, while front-end applications plug in the other, and Tibco's software enables the sharing of data and business processes. Tibco, which posted annual revenues of $292 million last year, touts more than 1,700 customers, including Delta Air Lines, AT&T and Cisco Systems. Blue Martini and Tibco began working with each other last year. Their alliance has reaped at least one customer, Oncology Therapeutics Network. "We recently selected Tibco to further streamline our integration with our existing back-end systems," said CIO Sue Dubman at Oncology Therapeutics, in a statement. "The combination will help us deliver a host of new capabilities, including more efficient invoice and package tracking." For the most part, integration between CRM and ERP remains a moving target, says Smith. Even ERP vendors are finding that it's not an easy process. PeopleSoft, for instance, integrated its ERP software with CRM technology gained in its Vantive acquisition, "and just look how long it took them," Smith says. "Blue Martini is smart to think about integration and developing strong partnerships." Also, CRM must eventually hook into a myriad of back-end systems, not just ERP. Thus, utilizing an EAI integration platform is a better approach, says Rick Fleischman, director of product marketing at Blue Martini. "Every customer has a range of back-end systems," he says. Tom Kaneshige also writes for Line56.com
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