Blue Martini's Latest Concoction

Blue Martini Software announced today Blue Martini 5, the latest version of its suite of personalization software for marketing, sales and Web self-service. The San Mateo, California-based vendor packed version 5 with a boatload of B2B functionality, especially in the areas of selling and content management -- a likely attempt to expand from its core strengths in B2C and retail, says an industry watcher.

With Blue Martini 5, users gain new selling features such as lead management, request-for-quote, return material authorizations and invoice presentment. There's also a brand new account-management system built into the suite that allows buyers and sellers to set up accounts, organizations, contracts, roles and contracts, as well as manage leads, quotes, request-for-quotes and orders.

The Blue Martini suite consists primarily of four key applications: Blue Martini Marketing for targeted email marketing campaigns; Blue Martini Commerce for Web sites and wireless environments; Blue Martini Channels for self-service portals aimed at channel partners; and Blue Martini Service for browser-based call center interfaces.

"Blue Martini 5 delivers a modular application suite that enables companies to build loyalty amongst their most valuable customers through personalized sales, marketing and self service, with a short ramp up and quick time-to-market," said Monte Zweben, chairman and CEO of Blue Martini, in a statement. Blue Martini 5 is available today and pricing starts at $85,000 per CPU. Blue Martini 5 also comes in a Big Blue flavor -- that is, pre-configured and bundled with IBM WebSphere, MQ Series and support for IBM AIX. Support for IBM DB2 Universal Databases is planned for Q2 2002

All applications leverage enhanced content-management and integrated-analytics features. Customers can create online catalogs and other information using Web content from many data sources throughout their organizations. Working behind the scenes, analytic software profiles each customer and business partner and looks for patterns and preferences that may help improve sales and marketing efforts.

But chances are you've heard about these features already, claims Mitch Kramer, analyst at market researcher Patricia Seybold Group. In the B2B space, Blue Martini is "playing catch-up with the rest of the industry," he says. "A lot of these products are quite similar to competitors' products. Blue Martini, though, might have an edge with their analytics -- it's low-level technology and based on data mining but still good stuff."

In the retailing space, Blue Martini's technology is head and shoulders above everyone else, Kramer says. B2B competitors have used this strength against Blue Martini by pigeonholing the company in retail, "which is probably why Blue Martini has come out with a lot of B2B features in this new version," Kramer says.

Tom Kaneshige also writes for

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