Lower-than-expected Q1 earnings from customer relationship management (CRM) vendors Remedy, Onyx, and Kana, and layoff announcements from vendors Broadbase and Firepond prove that the CRM landscape is changing—maybe for the worse.

The current state of the CRM space is a reminder that CRM vendors need a vision and a competitive edge to be successful. E.piphany, a CRM vendor targeting large enterprises, knows this well.

E.piphany is often in the shadow of its rivals, Siebel and PeopleSoft, but with a client list that includes American Airlines, American Express, Compaq, and Procter & Gamble, E.piphany is hardly a shrinking violet.

This article provides a synopsis of E.piphany’s newest CRM product suite, E.5, and a breakdown of the software vendor’s CRM capabilities.

E.5’s competitive edge
E.piphany tried to top its competition with the introduction of E.5 in August 2000. Gartner warns, however, that because examples of E.5 implementations were not available until Q4 2000, E.piphany E.5 may experience problems during early implementations, limiting the solution’s viability. (TechRepublic is an independent subsidiary of Gartner.)

According to E.piphany, the E.5 suite was one of the first CRM products targeted to large enterprises that mixed analytics with operational processes. This mix gives E.5 a blend of insight and action, says E.piphany’s director of product marketing, Michael Trigg. “Just capturing that operational data doesn’t necessarily help you manage your customer relationships any more effectively,” said Trigg.

While the goal of any CRM application is to collect customer information, using that data to guide an enterprise’s business strategy requires more than operational CRM applications. As a result, more enterprises are using powerful analytical tools—like E.5—to examine their customer data.

Trigg explained that the insight that customer data analysis provides, when coupled with operational applications, is what enterprises are looking for in a CRM solution.

“By [using] analytics tools, you can really gain a much richer understanding of your customers, [which allows you to] interact with them more effectively across all the different touch points,” Trigg said. “That’s really what E.piphany products help you do.”

E.piphany’s CRM applications are Web-based, allowing for easy integration with existing IT infrastructures and third-party applications. Enterprises using Web-based tools can access and analyze customer information in a real-time environment, a capability that also allows them to immediately react to customer behaviors.

Developing Web-based products also gives E.piphany possible longevity in the CRM market. According to Gartner, more than 80 percent of enterprise standards will be driven by Internet-derived technologies by 2004.

E.5 may need to breathe a bit
While the blend of analytics and operations is one of E.piphany’s strengths, Gartner, in a recent evaluation of E.5, suggested that the suite is untested and not yet whole. According to Gartner, “The suite should be considered by enterprises that require a strong analytical focus for their front-office solution rather than a customer-service-driven contact-center solution.”

But despite Gartner’s reservations about E.5’s readiness, Trigg contends that melding analytical and operational capabilities is indeed the direction in which CRM suites are moving, especially those used in large enterprises. “It’s no longer enough just to have a dumb operational system. You have to insert intelligence into the way you interact with customers, and the way you do that is by adding analytical CRM capabilities,” said Trigg.

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