NCR Corp. will take the first tenuous step from data warehouse vendor to customer-relationship management vendor next year with a CRM product that combines the technologies of NCR and Ceres Integrated Solutions, the company NCR bought in April.
The product will be called NCR CRM Solution version 4, because it's the fourth version of the Ceres product line. NCR CRM, bearing one of the more tongue-tripping titles in recent memory, includes the former NCR Relationship Optimizer product, as well as Ceres' IOS product. NCR CRM 4 is built around a new rules engine that will help marketers communicate in real time with customers through channels such as Web sites, automated teller machines, and contact centers. The product has pattern-detection technology that will help businesses spot trends in customers' buying habits. It will be available in the first quarter, starting at $150,000.
This release is critical for NCR because it's the first time it can legitimately offer a full CRM product, rather than its Teradata data warehouse, says Lynn Harvey, an analyst with the Patricia Seybold Group. Before this release, NCR users who were interested in CRM would have had to build custom applications on top of Teradata. In particular, potential users will benefit from Ceres' campaign-management and customer-segmentation features aimed at the retail market.
But the biggest drawing point of NCR CRM may still be the Teradata data warehouse that backs it. Businesses doing CRM across multiple channels need a heavy-duty data warehouse because of the vast amounts of customer information that pour in from the Web and call centers. Says Harvey, "It's very easy for businesses to get overwhelmed by the data they're pulling in."