Tools Sharpen Customer Focus

Unica, Blue Martini and Applix each announced new products this week designed to help bridge the customer information gap.

Unica Corp., BlueMartini Inc. and Applix Inc. each announced new software this week designed to help bridge the customer information gap.

The offerings look to enable companies to make the most efficient and effective use of customer interactions – critical in this slowing economy.

Unica released Version 3.0 of its flagship Affinium suite for marketing campaign management and analytics. Campaign iX, a new Web-based marketing campaign design interface that is part of Version 3.0, makes marketing campaign design easier and more suited to non-technical users, according to Unica, of Lincoln, Mass.

The new version of Affinium also adds collaborative capabilities to allow customer information to be shared across channels and adds support for international character, date and decimal formats.

Campaign iX has enabled Lands End Inc. , which has been using the beta version of Affinium 3, to shift campaign design from its quantitative analysis team to its less technical marketing department, according to Cindy Kephart.

"We can free up our quantitative analysis people to work on improving our models of selection [of customers for marketing campaigns]," said Kephart, a business systems specialist who heads the Dodgeville, Wisc., retailers campaign management project.

Lands End uses Unica technology to plan its catalog mailings, which go out to 7 million customers on average. Affinium helps to segment and select which customers get which mailings, Kephart said. This version allows Lands End to figure out on the fly how well the campaign is going and make adjustments accordingly, she said.

"It allows us to close the loop much faster," Kephart said.

Lands End plans to extend its use of Affinium to e-mail campaigns and corporate sales campaigns, Kephart said.

Separately, Blue Martini, perhaps best known in the retail world for its e-commerce and CRM (customer relationship management) applications, introduced a new version of its eponymous software for the manufacturing vertical.

Blue Martini Manufacturing adds automated business processes and industry-specific templates for manufacturers to the Blue Martini eCRM application. Its designed to allow manufacturers to deploy applications for content and catalog management, marketing, commerce, channel management and customer service.

The San Mateo, Calif., companys new software also adds packaged integration with enterprise resource planning, supply chain management and e-marketplace software through its support for XML, Common Object Request Broker Architecture, COM (Component Object Model), Distributed COM, Java Message Service, Enterprise JavaBeans and IBMs MQSeries.

BlueMartini Manufacturing is expected to ship next quarter.

Lastly, Applix launched Applix Integra, which combines the budgeting and business modeling capabilities of its iTM1 application with the CRM analytics of its iEnterprise application. Managers can use Integra to get immediate visibility into operational data to spot problems or opportunities, said Applix officials, in Westboro, Mass.

Integra gives users both a dashboard interface with drill-down capabilities and an alerting system to tell them when there is a major change in data.