Get Personal

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Unica Corporation Co-founder and CEO Yuchun Lee wants to help organizations get personal. Unica's Affinium suite of products, released in June, offers companies all the tools they need to create highly personalized interactions with their customers. The solution, Lee says, gives businesses the ability to truly understand customers by executing and tracking personalized marketing campaigns across all channels.

"As businesses move toward a more holistic way of treating customers, we think the companies that will succeed are those that can personalize communications, not just on the Web, but across all channels in a highly coordinated fashion," Lee says. The Affinium suite "helps companies overcome the complexity of such an effort."

The suite includes four major components laid on top of Unica's unique Universal Dynamic Interconnect (UDI) architecture. With UDI, Affinium can concurrently access multiple databases, including flat files, as well as share data across all customer touch points. The system removes the need for an application-specific data mart. Instead, Affinium can operate within an evolving and changing data environment.

Adaptive Applications

"The UDI architecture allows any application that sits on top of it to access and push data to and from a wide variety of data sources without having to build a separate application," Lee says. "It's a huge simplification for the IT environment."

UDI's open architecture means users don't need to redesign and recreate marketing campaigns as data and data sources change, Lee says. The open architecture also enables marketers to share information across multiple data stores and interact with operational CRM systems to provide a consistent customer experience across channels. "UDI is fundamental to our product and a key differentiator for the entire Affinium software suite," he says.

The suite includes four modules that can be purchased separately or leveraged on top of the UDI architecture for maximum power. The Affinium Model module is a predictive modeling suite that helps marketers better understand their customers, identify high-value prospects and predict customer behavior. Model's targeting and predictive modeling tools give companies insight into their processes for acquiring, growing and retaining customers.

Affinium Campaign allows marketers to take the information uncovered by the Model module and use it to map out a plan for dealing with individual customers. The system can be used on any type of marketing campaign--scheduled, event-triggered, or tiered--and can be integrated with internal and external databases.

The system's newest module, Affinium Report, is an intelligence, reporting and marketing portal. Marketing professionals have access to real-time customized marketing campaign reports, plus external news and business information. They can use any Internet browser to access such critical data as campaign status and performance reports, and customer profiling information and analysis.

The Report module isn't just for customers who use Affinium. "It allows anyone who has a reporting tool to interface with the information and share results," Lee says. Rounding out the suite is Affinium Interact, which helps marketers use customer information gathered through all touch points to create personalized, permission-based customer communications. Through Interact, marketing professionals can design, plan, implement, manage and evaluate e-mail and Internet marketing campaigns.

Used together, these products offer a solution tailored to a rapidly changing environment.
"If you step back and think about why CRM is so difficult, [it's because] marketing is a highly dynamic process that involves ever-changing tactics," Lee says. "In this dynamic environment, a given solution can only work for a very short period of time. We think Affinium, by using the UDI layer, helps solve this problem. It's the only application that's designed to be re-configurable in a highly dynamic environment."

Faster, Better, Cheaper

Targetbase, a CRM services and solutions provider based in Dallas, Texas, has been using Unica's Model module for a little under a year. The organization, which helps its clients to analyze customer information and change business strategies accordingly, leverages the application on top of its own analytic platform. "The Model One tool is the most high-powered analytic tool within that suite," says Scott Bailey, executive vice president.

Bailey says a combination of factors puts Targetbase in the market for a product like Model. In the mid 1990s, Targetbase--which has a 20-year history in the database marketing and analytics fields--expanded its focus. "We began to expand our analytics outside the marketing arena into more enterprise-wide use that took into account channels, service contacts and other different points within an organization," Bailey says. "As CRM became more and more of a strategy, we began to direct our efforts more toward that target."

Upon entering this space, Targetbase leaders began to realize the organization contained a wealth of knowledge, but lacked an efficient way to leverage that expertise. "Targetbase had been a recognized leader in analytics, especially from a consumer knowledge standpoint," Bailey says. "What we realized as the technology started to increase was we ran the risk of not being able to leverage all this personal talent and experience and brainpower."

After an extensive technology review, the organization settled on Unica. "The top reason was that we saw a company and organization that was devoted to this area and was willing to work with us to develop it," Bailey says.

Targetbase uses the Unica's datamining product "for a whole slew of modeling applications," he says. The most prevalent use is in customer segmentation, but Model also comes into play in what Bailey calls "touch point modeling."

"We describe it as when an organization has contact with a customer, every one of those contacts represents a moment of truth," he says. "We're asking ourselves, 'How can we help our clients impact that moment of truth?'"

It's a complex, ever-changing proposition: "The complexity means you not only have to segment people differently, but the segmentation becomes more complex," Bailey says. "It requires that segmentation to be dynamic because the real goal is to move people from one area of the quadrant to another. If people are of high value to you, but you're not providing high value to them, you need to be able to recognize who those customers are, and you need to be able to model what happens if you do certain things with them."

This dynamic process has to be accomplished in real-time, Bailey says, so changes can be enacted even during customer interactions. "You need to know what's working and not working, it can't be off an annual plan anymore."

After almost 12 months with Unica, the application "is providing better return on investment than we anticipated this early on," Bailey says. He estimates Targetbase analysts can accomplish tasks in about 40 percent of the time it took them in pre-Model days. "That means our clients receive a greater value service from us at the same cost we were charging before," he says. Model allows Targetbase to run a variety of models simultaneously, thus providing more information for clients at the same cost, Bailey says.

He expects more benefits will be uncovered the longer Targetbase uses the application.
"It could have some impact with us for new opportunities for applications of our analytics outside the traditional area," he says. "It could lead to additional revenue streams and cost savings."

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