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Analysis

Alterian - continuing to develop their marketing platform
David Norris By: David Norris, Practice Leader - Analytics, Bloor Research
Published: 2nd July 2007
Copyright Bloor Research © 2007
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Alterian have really developed their market offering over the last few years. When I first looked at the tool I was very impressed by what I saw, but felt that they were too reliant on their technology.

It was my impression that they were not paying enough attention to the specific skills needed to convert technology into competitive advantage. Since then they have developed a most impressive list of channel partners, who effectively define who is an expert in Marketing Services, making that criticism a thing of the distant past. This has freed them up to focus on developing the core of their product both by acquisition and by internal development. They now offer one of the best Marketing Automation platforms available; one with sufficient capability that it is capable of addressing the needs of organisations looking to proactively manage the customer experience.

Previously most people would have considered Alterian as a mid range offering, but the changes which have been made really make them an Enterprise Marketing Platform; by which I mean that they are now a serious competitor to the likes of Unica. Although I would still see both Alterian and Unica has probably being not quite in the league of Chordiant when it comes to the sheer scale, speed of execution and integration that Chordiant achieve in tackling the top end of customer experience processing. But away from that extreme top end, of the largest global banks, insurance and telecommunications companies, there are very many companies who should be paying serious attention to managing the customer experience, and should therefore be looking at Alterian as the basis of that solution.

Enterprise Marketing Platforms have to be able to handle the scale and complexity of the workflows that typify a large-scale enterprise marketing operation. Marketing is one of the least well-served elements of corporate headquarters functions, and it is now one of the most vital—making this a key opportunity. Most solutions address elements of what is required but fail to deliver an integrated, functionally rich whole. Alterian can do that.

Today, it is true that if you are not doing analytics you are really not doing marketing. Customers expect to be treated as individuals, so if you do not know who is who, and what they expect, and do not get it right the vast majority of the time they will punish you. Not just by not buying now, but by up and leaving you for someone else. Analytics is the core to the whole process and Alterian have always had an excellent decision engine.

The next stage is to do something with the findings that requires a campaign to be designed, executed and the outcomes assessed. Again this has always been a core element of Alterian, that has been well executed technically, and been favourably received by the user community.

Part of the design and execution of a campaign is the design and production of creative material, an element at the very core of the Marketing workflow, but which has been ignored by the vast majority of the Marketing Automation solutions provided by the IT community. The workflow in Marketing is particularly complex involving large numbers of third parties, many of whom will be geographically dispersed; making the co-ordination and sign-off of approvals a complex and time consuming activity, particularly if the limit of the automation support is little better than a spreadsheet. Alterian now posses, through acquisition, a Marketing Resource Management tool which enables them to round out their offering.

The key aspect of the Alterian offering is that the various elements are not standalone pieces of technology, with the user having to handle the complex navigation between them to achieve their workflow. With Alterian, the Marketer can move seamlessly between organising their resources, undertaking analytics, planning a campaign and overseeing the approvals necessary to drive things to a timely completion.

Customer Experience is a complex solution set that expands beyond simplistic Marketing Automation solutions, CRM solutions, call centres and data warehousing, to embrace them all in an integrated fashion. It must be capable of operating in real time where needed to determine the next best action during an interaction. Further along, optimisation of options is required to maximise the lifetime value of the customer relationship, by ensuring that the right thing is sold at the right time to the right person.

Alterian are starting to produce a platform with many of the essential elements for such an all-embracing platform. The existing solution set has real capability and is delivered at a price point that does not mean it is the preserve of only the largest global players. This is a product that demands serious consideration; it has vast potential. Alterian's forward thinking product strategy is developing the solution consistently and effectively so customers can buy in at an entry level, and be secure in the knowledge that the product set will grow to meet their needs, even if they do want to take on the ultimate challenge of effective management of the customer experience throughout the lifetime of the customer.

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