IBM Will Launch New Software Company
(11/06/98, 7:24 p.m. ET)
By Mary E. Thyfault, InformationWeek

IBM next week will launch an independent software company to help businesses win and keep more of their most valuable customers. This move is the latest in what Andersen Consulting dubs the "revolution" of using IT to rethink customer-relationship management.

IBM wants to help its customers "turn customer satisfaction into customer loyalty," said Scott Webber, CEO of IBM's new company, Corepoint Technologies. It will roll out products next week that link systems throughout an enterprise, providing call-center, Web-contact, decision support, and application-development technology.

The strength of IBM's Corepoint is its ability to integrate its technology across the enterprise, said Donna Fluss, a Gartner Group analyst. Corepoint includes existing products from Tivoli's Software Artistry suite for managing the customer-relationship life cycle; technologies and products from Early, Cloud & Co., a call-center company IBM acquired three years ago; and IBM's Callpath and DirectTalk computer telephony products.

Customers agree the integration of these components is important. "Our call-center products are all over the place." said John Hoopes, a program manager with Sprint's consumer division, which uses IBM software that will be folded into Corepoint. The division already used IBM's technology to provide agents with a screen pop of information from a customer database. That alone has cut 20 seconds off the average seven-minute call -- a savings of more than $20 million a year, Hoopes said.

The products Corepoint will make available this week include Enterprise Connection, which integrates IBM and other vendors' customer-relationship management applications. By June, Corepoint will offer Enterprise Connection for SAP, which will let users plug other customer relationship-management components, such as sales support or call-center technology, into SAP. Integration with other vendors'ERP applications will follow.

Corepoint Relationship Management software provides decision support. "It maintains and develops its own knowledge base without a lot of outside programming," said Marion Kolb, senior director of customer service support for Companion Technologies, a Columbia, S.C., provider of computer technology for doctors. In the second quarter, Corepoint will roll out a more extensive knowledge base.

Corepoint Foundation lets companies create their own customer relationship-management systems. Corepoint Universal Access includes customer-contact technology.

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