CRM Gets Predictive

A handful of announcements this week focus on analytics and bringing users more functionality to better identify trends and issues that impact their businesses. Business Objects Tuesday announced it has integrated its business intelligence solution with Salesforce.com to allow customers to perform advanced reporting and ad hoc analysis of customer trends and sales pipelines. Business Objects Enterprise 6 extends the reporting capabilities already provided by Salesforce.com, to allow customers to create customizable Business Objects dashboards, which monitor key performance indicators and proactively alert users with the information they need. In addition, joint customers can use Business Objects Enterprise 6 to combine Salesforce.com data with their other corporate data to gain a complete view of their enterprise. Business Objects has leveraged Salesforce.com's sforce client/service application development utility to create the solution, which will be sold and marketed jointly by both companies. Meanwhile, PeopleSoft on Monday announced the PeopleSoft Predictive Analytics Solution for CRM, which enables users to make business decisions in real-time to increase customer profitability, retention and loyalty, the company says. Predictive analytics products are designed to help users of sales, customer service, and marketing applications make better decisions on customer dealings through analysis of more forward-looking customer data. Most of these users have typically relied on historically focused statistical data to make decisions. Mitch Kramer, an analyst with the Patricia Seybold Group, a researcher and consultancy in Boston, says it's about time for the big players to get into predictive analytics. "Predictive modeling as a discipline has been something that marketing groups have done forever," he says. "Unica has a solution. So does E.piphany. It's been a long time coming for the big suite players who basically have been getting by calling a suite of OLAP reports analytics. Now maybe analytics offering from these companies will live up to the name." The PeopleSoft solution compromises three key facets: predefined templates for customer churn and customer response rates; predefined real-time scoring integration from other PeopleSoft solutions; and guidance across business roles and processes. PeopleSoft officials say that this kind of tool can help increase revenues at the point of integration. For example, call center managers and account executives can leverage predictive analytics in real-time to drive the best messages to customers who are most likely to purchase or defect, thus increasing customer profitability and lifetime value. In addition, the solution is expected to help companies to focus on decreasing workload and increasing the greater value projects, reducing the length of cycles and preserve existing data-improvements. Others are also getting into predictive analytics. Separately, Siebel Systems developing its own predictive technology that is slated to debut next month in Version 7.5.3 of the company's CRM application. The release after that (Version 7.7 due out in the winter of 2004) will add vertical-specific predictive analytics templates for financial services, retail and communications, company officials said. Siebel says it will continue its predictive analytics partnership with SPSS Inc. and revamp its development relationship with SAS, as SAS this week will roll its own predictive product called Interaction Management. That application is based on best practices from SAS analytics implementations. It uses those guidelines to launch marketing activities based on customer behavior and patterns.
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