Portal Player Turns to CRM

In a bid to seize CRM dollars, Art Technology Group (ATG) unveiled today a product roadmap for ATG6 Beta, the latest version of the company's commerce and portal suite. Additionally, ATG announced partnerships with analytics vendor Hyperion and infrastructure developer Autonomy. ATG's flagship products -- ATG Commerce and ATG Portal -- helps companies consolidate portals into a single portal for supporting customers, partners and even employees. The company has been known for its application server Dynamo, as well as personalization tools. With ATG6 Beta, the suite gains four new modules, among other enhancements, that will be made available in a phased rollout over the next six months. In Q4 this year, ATG6 Beta will gain a souped up search engine from Autonomy and a publishing module that lets companies manage content, such as price lists, product catalogs, and service information. At least one ATG customer praised the upcoming products. "We originally selected ATG because of the scenario personalization capabilities that distinguished the company's solutions," said Lee Kunkle, vice president of technology at Restoration Hardware, in a statement. "The new ATG Publishing will help us keep our site content fresh while reducing our maintenance costs." Perhaps signaling an end to the application-server wars, ATG plans to open up its suite by supporting BEA Weblogic 7 this year and IBM WebSphere in Q1 next year. ATG is also putting together a software-services-best practices solution for integrating its portal with enterprise applications. An integration solution for Siebel's CRM suite, for instance, is planned for this year; and a similar solution for SAP is expected early next year. In Q1 2003, AT6 will get an analytics module based on technology from Hyperion. The module, which includes pre-built reporting tools, will collect information from the portal and then identify user trends. "Providing an integrated business performance management module will offer an effective means to quantify and improve the results of both commerce and portal solutions across the enterprise," stated Walter Janowski, research director at Gartner. Fumi Matsomoto, vice president of technology at ATG, believes the planned additions round out the suite. It's quite a feat to offer "a portal as a way to connect with everyone," he says, adding, "It's one online CRM solution to handle it all." And so far, ATG has built an impressive list of nearly a thousand customers, including Procter and Gamble, Vodafone and Kaiser Permanente. Despite the new features coming down the pike, ATG isn't in the clear yet, says Laura Ramos, director at Giga Information Group. The company is battling on three fronts -- commerce, portals and relationship management -- with giant competitors in each segment. In the portal space, "ATG has a credible offering, but they aren't thought of as a top-tier vendor at this point in time," Ramos says. "And managing assets for online CRM seems to be equally crowded... they have a tough road ahead." Tom Kaneshige also writes for Line56.com
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