CRM Market Moves

Initiatives from new, existing vendors breathe life into sector

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The CRM market may be flagging, but you'd never know it from the vendor activity.

This week a fledgling company promises to bring detailed customer behavior data to brick-and-mortar retailers, while industry stalwart Baan is relaunching its CRM initiative.

Despite a flagging market, Baan and Brickstream are making new CRM announcements this week.


Brickstream is scheduled to unveil technologies it says will bring the equivalent of clickstream data into the realm of physical stores.

Utilizing a battery of in-store cameras and sophisticated image-recognition software, the technology promises to provide retailers with in-depth information about customer activity in their own stores. The technology, which Brickstream insists retains customer anonymity, can show when long cashier lines are hurting sales, which promotions attract customers, and other critical data. Armed with that data, stores can better deploy labor and other resources.

"The goal is to maintain service levels even in peak periods, and retailers do not have the insight they need about the in-store customer experience," said Amir Hudda, president and CEO of Brickstream, Arlington, Va.

"This will provide much deeper understanding of the 'four-walls' environment . . . it's closed-loop CRM that collects, manages and analyzes customer behavior," said Simon Angove, vice president of sales and marketing. The software will cost between $10,000 and $20,000 per store depending on its size, plus a subscription fee of $1,000 to $3,000 per store per month, Brickstream said.

Retek, a Minneapolis-based ISV and integrator specializing in retail applications, plans to resell its own labeled version of the Brickstream software.

The idea of monitoring customers in stores raises some eyebrows.

"It's fine that it's anonymous now, but wait,in two or three years, they'll put face recognition in, and the last bastion where you can use a paper dollar and retain anonymity is gone," said Jay Fruin, president of Leveraged Technologies, a New York-based CRM integrator.

Meanwhile, Baan this week plans to relaunch its CRM push, focusing on the company's ERP strengths in aerospace, automotive, high-tech electronics and industrial manufacturing verticals. Baan, which was purchased last year by Invensys, will push iBaan for CRM into these accounts and add analytics to all of its modules, said Don Brower, vice president of product marketing and strategic alliances for Baan. Additionally, the company, which already supports AIX, Windows NT/2000 and OS/400 operating systems, will launch a "very, very big" Linux initiative in coming weeks, Brower said.

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