System links agents, data warehouse

Not that he's bragging or anything, but Norm Francis, president of Vancouver-based CRM software maker Pivotal Corp. calls the launch of his firm's eRelationship 2000 suite of business-to-business e-commerce solutions "a watershed event" in the rapidly changing world of e-business....

Not that he’s bragging or anything, but Norm Francis, president of Vancouver-based CRM software maker Pivotal Corp. calls the launch of his firm’s eRelationship 2000 suite of business-to-business e-commerce solutions "a watershed event" in the rapidly changing world of e-business.

"What it does is combine the technologies required to build successful e-business relationships," he says.

The product announcement draws on a technology alliance between Pivotal and automation specialists E.piphany and Interactive Intelligence to add support for customer analysis and multiple points of interaction.

ERelationship 2000 includes specialized "engines" for real-time intelligence, personalization and interaction. E.piphany’s core analytic software gathers customer data from various points of contact – such as sales and customer service functions – and then segments it. That data can then be used to tell businesses which customers are most important and how to tailor offers to specific customers. This information automatically pops up in a new user interface when an agent speaks to a customer.

"I think the Holy Grail today for e-business and marketers who want to lead the way in customer relations is in handling every phase in the closed-loop relationship," says Roger Siboni, president of E.piphany. "Right from initial contact, we have to respond to customer needs in real time, communicate with them and make sure that all people who ‘touch’ customers know that.

"This platform is really a breakthrough for those companies."

Adds Don Brown, president of Interactive Intelligence: "We understand the revenue-generation potential of the front-line employees who are interacting with customers and partners on a day-to-day basis. It’s ideal for fast-growing companies doing business on the Net."

However, E.piphany functions such as campaign management, outbound e-mail management, and personalization for Web sites were not included in the launch. Pivotal and E.piphany will sell those as additional products after eRelationship 2000 ships in the spring.

Not everyone is as impressed with eRelationship 2000 as the partners behind the project.

Erin Kinikin, a CRM analyst with the Giga Information Group in Santa Clara, Calif., says there is a good deal of promise in this announcement, "but much of the interaction with customers still requires a human to put it all together."

Even so, she says the integration of business intelligence solutions is a growing trend, especially in marketing.

"The challenge that we all have in the front office, and this is especially true with marketers, is integrating and combining the automation of front-office employees with data warehouse operations," she says. "What we’re seeing here is companies asking themselves what the key interaction points are with their customers, and how do we build on that."

Also in this report:

- The next generation of Net tools: Permission-based e-mail, online behaviour profiling, customized content delivery on the rise p.D12

- Why the current opt-in e-mail model won’t work: Three major problems – and a bunch of minor ones – to consider p.D15

- Direct Tech p.D18

From Karen Howe’s dining table: Creativity, COVID and Cannes

ICYMI, The Township's founder gathers the best of the best campaigns and trends so far.

Cannes Base Camp

By Karen Howe

I’m attending Cannes from the glory of my dining room table. There’s not a palm tree in sight, yet inspiration and intel are present in abundance.

Cannes Lions is a global cultural pulse check. The social course correction in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and BLM has delivered far greater diversity in the judging panels as well as the work. And we are all better for it.

I’m proud to say that creativity defeated COVID, which speaks to its power. Great work and big ideas flourished, despite unimaginable odds.

The work from the past two years spans a vast emotional range. From the profundity of Dove’s “Courage is Beautiful” to the hyper exuberance of Burberry’s “Festive,” they are opposite ends of the spectrum, but each answered a need in us.

Take note, the ascendency of gaming cannot be understated. Smart brands have embraced the channel. It makes sense, because gamers participate to meet others around the world, not just to play. And they represent a huge and powerful community. That’s why QSR Wendy’s gamified their iconic gal in RPG’s Feast of Legends.

Burger King sponsored the unknown Stevenage Football Club, transforming the team into online heroes and vaulting BK into the fray at the same time. Once again, the brand embedded itself in culture.

The birth of gaming tourism arrived when Xbox snuggled up to travel guides and created a brilliant baby: a travel guide for gaming worlds. It, too, embedded itself in culture.

From the standpoint of social good, Reporter Without Borders showed how it worked with Mindcraft for its “Uncensored Library” to bypass press censorship, with Minecraft providing a loophole to a space where young people could be educated. It provided youth with a powerful tool to fight oppression: truth.

COVID changed us in unexpected ways. We learned how to pay attention again and there was a notable lack of 30-second commercials. Instead, longer format content thrived. Apple’s WFH was seven minutes long. Entertainment reigned king, so we find ourselves returning to our advertising roots.

Seeing competitive brands form partnerships was one of this year’s other great surprises. The brilliantly simple “Beer Cap Project” by Aguila to reduce binge-drinking saw the brand reach out to competitive beers to join in. Aguila put incentivizing (keyword: free) reminders to drink water, eat food and get home safely on its bottle caps from all sorts of fast food chains, ride-share co’s and H2O brands.

On a personal level, I’m so proud of Canada again this year. Given that it was two years of work from all over the world being judged, even making the Cannes shortlist was an accomplishment. Canada is herding in the Lions in tremendous numbers – and it’s not even over. Fingers are crossed.

KAREN-HOWE-PIC-higher-rez-300x263Karen Howe is a Canadian Cannes Advisory Board Member and founder of The Township Group