Owens Corning Gets Personal With Business Customers

BroadVision's content-management tools to help target manufacturer's Web site
Owens Corning unveiled an initiative last week designed to build personalized, online relationships with its business customers--a move the $5 billion company hopes will boost its sales.

The Toledo, Ohio, manufacturer of building materials and supplies plans to enhance its static Web site, which provides basic product and service information, with BroadVision's content-management tools. It will use BroadVision Business Commerce, an E-commerce platform for business-to-business transactions, and BroadVision's InfoExchange Portal, software that will let the company consolidate Web pages into small groups of personalized portals. Visitors, employees, customers, and partners will be able to access the portal that contains the most relevant information.

"We're trying to focus [on] delivering value to specific audiences," says Paul Fortner, director of E-business and new digital technology at Owens Corning. "We've done that in the past from our own market intelligence and gut feelings." Using data wisely will improve the company's ability to deliver the right information to each builder. For example, information on wet-weather building materials will be provided to regions with heavy rainfall.

Owens Corning also considered software packages from Art Technology Group Inc. and Vignette Corp., Fortner says. What closed the deal was the level of service BroadVision brought into the proposal process. "We'd see the other [vendors] give the standard pitch, even though we'd placed nontraditional requests," he says. "BroadVision did a good job of listening to what we wanted."

BroadVision provided customer references immediately, while other vendors wanted to wait to see if Owens Corning was a serious customer. In response to Fortner's request for a full explanation of the cost of ownership, BroadVision arranged a full-day workshop to review content-management options and assembled a team that walked the staff through the planning process, development methodology, and operating expenses of its package.

Deals such as this are crucial for BroadVision, because it's been losing ground to top rival Vignette in the fight to regain profitability. Last week, both vendors posted second-quarter losses. BroadVision also says it's cutting 15% to 20% of its 1,500 employees. Vignette has laid off 581 people this year but says it has no plans for further cuts.

Editor's Choice
Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Terry White, Associate Chief Analyst, Omdia
John Abel, Technical Director, Google Cloud
Richard Pallardy, Freelance Writer
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Pam Baker, Contributing Writer