Focus Sharpens on Management of Customers' Online Experience
True customer experience management reaches into both the physical and virtual parts of a company, said Yankee Group analyst Sheryl Kingstone, though there is a huge emphasis on the virtual side. That is understandable, given how connected most consumers are to the Web, usually via many different devices -- and it explains why many firms are feeling the pressure to build out Web functionality in this area.
Two events in the CRM industry this week are shining a spotlight on a broad and sometimes nebulously defined space. First, Oracle announced its agreement to acquire FatWire, a provider of Web experience management software. Second, Adobe rolled out its Digital Enterprise Platform for Customer Experience Management.
Customer experience management, of which Web management is an important subsector, can be defined in many ways, but at the crux of all the explanations is a focus on the customer experience.
"CEM takes into account everything -- from brand to product and services, the channel, delivery and operations -- and considers it from the point of view of the customer," Yankee Group analyst Sheryl Kingstone told CRM Buyer.
A Holistic Concept ...
It is a far more holistic concept than CRM, which at bottom is about technology and business processes that support and surround the customer profile.
Oracle's acquisition and Adobe's new release, Kingstone said, are a reflection of the growing emphasis vendors are placing in this area.
... With Tangible Benefits
They are not doing so merely for airy-fairy, feel-good reasons. Web experience management has proven to lift conversions, Chris Golec, founder and CEO of Demandbase, told CRM Buyer.
"We have seen customers get a two to three times lift in engagement," he said.
CRM systems are focused on accounts, whereas Web experience management systems are based on individual behavior, noted Golec.
"Oracle's acquisition of Fatwire is interesting because it gives them both solution sets and a competitive edge -- if they can take advantage of it," he added.
The Focus on Web
True CEM reaches into both the physical and virtual parts of a company, said Kingstone, though there is a huge emphasis on the virtual side.
That is understandable, given how connected most consumers are to the Web, usually via many different devices, she observed.
Indeed, for that reason alone -- the proliferation of smartphones, tablets, netbooks and even connected automobiles -- firms are feeling the pressure to build out Web functionality in this area.
"Digital channels have become the dominant medium for influencing decision-making and building a stronger relationship between the brand and the end-customer," John Andrews, vice president of marketing and product management for e-business at Endeca, told CRM Buyer.
"The sheer number of devices consumers have at their disposal and the types of interactions they expect create a challenging but exciting opportunity for customer experience professionals," he said.
The Many Apps
Endeca has also released a new platform along these lines, he pointed out. Called "Endeca InFront," the application analyzes and then targets the appropriate content for each customer to encourage clicks and drive business results.
Adobe has similar goals with its new platform, as it has been designed to help companies build multichannel digital interactions for social and mobile customers.
It includes integration with the Adobe Online Marketing Suite to optimize digital marketing campaigns and personalized digital and support for mobile with integration with Adobe Flash Builder and Flex.
FatWire also has technology aimed at helping companies build out and manage their online presence via their customers' interactions.
Oracle declined to comment for this story, and Adobe did not respond to CRM Buyer's query by press time.