E.Piphany Inc. is trying to stay a step ahead of its larger competitors in the CRM software world with a new iteration of its flagship software that boasts improved integration among the disparate applications in the suite. E.6, which is due this week, includes new technologies such as ActivePath and Dialogs, which provide guided navigation to sales, marketing and service applications. Roger Siboni, CEO of E.piphany, based in San Mateo, Calif., sat down with eWeek Department Editor John McCright and Senior Writer Dennis Callaghan to talk about the future of customer relationship management.
eWeek: Whats new in E.6?
Siboni: The big news is it leverages J2EE [Java 2 Enterprise Edition], the steppingstone to Web services, and really embeds intelligence.
We are going from three platforms to one. In E.5, we brought together analytical CRM and operational CRM into a seamless front end. E.6 is bringing that together in terms of a seamless back end, leveraging all the applications across a J2EE platform. We [also] incorporated a Studio Design tool that allows integrators to more quickly and more effectively configure our applications around business processes, leveraging our applications suite with a very elegant dynamic Web set of tools.
ActivePath now lets the user move backward into the organization. It creates a bidirectional flow of knowledge and action.
eWeek: Internal or external user?
Siboni: Like a salesperson. So if you think of the sales application, it pops up alerts—"Your second-biggest customer called into the call center three times and complained about a problem." Through ActivePath, the salesperson can get the alert and then drive back into the organization [and ask], "Tell me more about this product, where are the white papers, who has sold this product to companies that are similar to this company?"
eWeek: So sales is getting capabilities from your Web customer service app?
Siboni: If you think about the amazing things E.piphany could do around personalizing and interaction at a Web site, being able to know what [a service agent] should offer them ... weve basically turned that gun on the sales application and said that a salesperson is just an intermediary to a customer, so lets treat the salesperson as a channel, if you will, who has a set of customers with a set of product needs. I view this as a steppingstone to Web services.
eWeek: Define Web services.
Siboni: The basic components are applications that can drive a process and define themselves, can be defined by other applications, [and] can be open and interoperate with other applications. What will happen is, well identify a customer doing something at a transaction point ... that will set off a set of rules—"If they say this, that translates into a lead, so go talk to the lead management and allocation software to qualify that lead and then drive it to the sales application."
Our software can be modeled around an enterprises business processes because you can take each one of these process applets and build an application with our Studio [Design] tools.