Wheelhouse Joins CRM Software Wave

By Dennis Callaghan  |  Posted 2002-02-25

Wheelhouse Corp. will join the wave of customer relationship management service providers switching to licensed software with the release next month of an application called CRM Director that integrates data from disparate CRM systems.

Wheelhouse CRM Director enables organizations to create and manage standardized, reusable business definitions mapped to the different system schemas the organization has in place in its various CRM applications. These data maps can then direct CRM data movement between the different applications and are accessible to third-party tools via SOAP (Simple Object Acess Protocol) and Java APIs, Wheelhouse officials said.

The end result is the same as what CRM suite vendors typically promise—integration of sales, marketing, customer service and analytic applications, better cross-sell and up-sell opportunities and a more complete view of customer behavior.

But Wheelhouse CRM Director is targeted at organizations that took a so-called best-of-breed approach to CRM and have applications from several vendors.

Former CRM ASP eConvergent Inc., which had hosted an integrated suite of best-of-breed apps for its customers in its ASP days, made its own move into licensed software earlier this month with the release of a similar product called eMerge.

Other CRM service providers, such as Jamcracker Inc. and Partnerware Inc., have also announced switches to licensed software in the past month. Jamcracker moved from a similar hosted CRM offering as eConvergent to a Web services platform for portal management while Partnerware made its hosted partner relationship management service a licensed software offering.

But Wheelhouse founder and Chairman Frank Ingari said his companys move was more of a natural evolution for Wheelhouse, not the abandonment of a failed business model as with those other companies.

"It was always our strategy that software would become the main revenue driver of our business in the long term," said Ingari, in Burlington, Mass.

Ingari said the professional services expertise Wheelhouse has accumulated in its first two-plus years of existence of providing managed services and some hosting—mostly for marketing applications—will serve it well as it helps customers deploy CRM Director.

"We set out to do this," he said. "We wanted to build a client base for our services and solve real-world problems so that our software would be good. We knew it was going to take at least two years."

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