Global Marketing's Big Comeback

In the heady days of the late 1990s, globalization was the buzzword of the moment. Now San Mateo, Calif.-based software vendor E.piphany hopes to recapture some of the international allure, after unveiling out-of-the-box global features, called Borderless CRM, for its E.6 software suite. E.piphany is touting Unicode support in E.6, as a means to deliver multi-national marketing campaigns, as well as enable companies to offer international support from global support centers. Companies, for instance, can create a single campaign and distribute localized versions of it to branch offices in different global regions without having to rewrite every aspect of the campaign, E.pipany claims. Specifically, new features include: a single database of multi-lingual (English, German, Spanish, Korean, Portuguese and Japanese) data; translation and character conversion tools; multi-lingual user interface and currency support; local-specific forms; support for Asian characters; international e-mail support; among others. Why all the hubbub? When it comes to marketing, serving global customers has led to some embarrassing and costly slipups. Either a local marketer fails to adhere to a central marketing message, such as a Czech distributor of Hewlett-Packard products once running an advertisement using a photo of two kangaroos engaged in, ahem, procreation; or a company issues a global marketing theme that doesn't take into account local flavors, most notably Chevrolet's Nova car, which means "doesn't go" in Spanish. "Companies simply cannot afford to be myopic when it comes to doing business around the world," said Phil Fernandez, executive vice president of products at E.piphany, in a statement. "Borderless CRM solutions are quickly becoming a business imperative." Echoing this sentiment, Peter Baumgartner, general manager of core customer marketing at SWISS, an intercontinental airline and E.piphany customer, stated, "It is of vital importance that our multi-channel worldwide campaigns are orchestrated in harmony with the sales force activities undertaken by our local agents and agencies." Indeed, marketing faux pas are the dirty little secret of globalization. And E.piphany's announcement should help clean up at least part of the problem, says Erin Kinikin, vice president of e-business applications and strategies at Giga Information Group and a former global marketer. "The value of a single, integrated marketing database is that you can create global brand images and messages that can be customized locally, rather that letting every country-specific marketing group deliver their campaigns independently," she says. "Companies have been trying to do this for years, but the software to track this and understand who's using which campaigns and how well those campaigns did really hasn't kept up with the business requirements... this is an emerging thing with CRM." Keeping everyone -- customers and marketers, alike -- on the same sheet of music requires a universal standard, of sorts. ERP-CRM vendors PeopleSoft, Oracle and SAP support Unicode, which is a computing standard that provides unique numbers for characters, regardless of platform, program and, critically, language. Unicode has been adopted by Apple, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, Sun, Sybase, Unisys and others, according to the Unicode Consortium Web site. Siebel Systems plans to support Unicode in an upcoming release, says Kinikin, adding, "It's not brand new, although it's been getting more focus from marketing, whereas first it was in the call center and ERP systems." But Kinikin is quick to point out that neither Unicode or E.piphany's Borderless CRM is a panacea for global marketing woes. "The bigger picture is that software support is just one piece for globalization," she says. "The hardest part is getting all the people to work together and to establish a global marketing process. Don't buy the software and think it's going to fix your global process problems." Tom Kaneshige also writes for Line56.com
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