November 17, 2004

Epiphany's New CRM Apps Offer Instant Analysis

By Evan Schuman, eWEEK

An age-old CRM criticism is that it's an expensive package that often delivers the information too late (long after the customer has left) and to the wrong people (back-office managers instead of salespeople on the floor). One CRM firm is introducing two packages that it claims avoids those problems.

Epiphany's new customer relationship management products—Insight Advisor and Lead Advisor—are different from traditional packages because of their ability to get instant analysis (20 to 50 milliseconds) to a sales rep or a cashier at the POS (point of sale), said Jon Miller, Epiphany's senior director of marketing and analytics applications.

The two apps focus on the analysis. Part of the problem is that large retailers can have a huge number of customer interaction files, and those data points take time to analyze. "You can easily have 100 or 200 interactions," Miller said. These two new applications "score them for the relevance to the current transaction, preventing information overload" and thus allows there to be a manageable amount of data for the POS to display and for the employee to make at-a-glance sense of, he said.

Miller argues that the strongest value for the new products—which are designed for the retail finance segment but which can work for almost any retail environment—is their ability to sit atop existing applications. That's a big help for multiplatform environments with hooks into a hodgepodge of software.

"There are a lot of companies out there that want to add" additional CRM analysis capabilities, to deliver a single view of the customer or to simply cross-sell more effectively, Miller said. The strategy of those other companies—including Siebel Systems Inc., SAP AG, Oracle Corp. and PeopleSoft Inc.—"is going to the customer and saying, 'You need to throw out whatever you're using and replace it with my system.' We can give you that same business functionality in a way that augments your existing system," he said.

The package's price depends on the configuration sold, but typically is more than $250,000, an Epiphany statement said.

IBM announced its "support" for the new line, saying in a statement that it was attracted to the Epiphany products because it saw them "providing a consistent customer experience across all channels."