REVIEWER: Mark Meyer, director of customer relationship management for BMC Software.

BACKGROUND: BMC Software, Inc. is the leading provider of enterprise management solutions. By assuring business availability, BMC Software delivers control over infrastructure management costs, control of market advantage and differentiation via service management, and growth of business value with solutions for business optimization. BMC Software is a member of the S&P 500, with fiscal year 2001 revenues exceeding $1.5 billion and offices worldwide.

PLATFORMS: BMC Software uses a wide variety of mainframe, server and PC hardware running MVS, UNIX/Linux and Microsoft operating systems. BMC Software's CRM environment runs primarily on UNIX hardware in clustered server configurations.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Months after implementing a CRM solution to track customer contacts, BMC Software still couldn't realize the full value of our CRM investments because we were unable to efficiently integrate the customer data we had in four different major customer databases. As a result, we ran the risk of damaging customer relationships and missing all-important opportunities to up-sell and cross-sell our products. We turned to Acxiom Corporation's customer data integration (CDI) software, AbiliTec, to help us quickly achieve a single customer view across our salesforce automation, order-entry and product-support databases. Initial Acxiom AbiliTec efforts were focused on identifying common data across the enterprise and removing latent duplicate data, which normal string matching could not identify.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: We realized the value of our CRM investment within months ­ a very short amount of time for such a big project of this kind. Time and money saved from rapid deployment allowed us to turn our attention and resources to other critical projects. We spent less time and money with incorrect e-mail addresses being returned to us. The return rate had been as high as 50 percent on some campaigns. Through AbiliTec, we reduced the duplicate data in our customer database by 30 percent, which saved marketing campaign resources. Improved customer relationships allow us to learn more about customers and enable us to provide the content they need, increase our marketing opportunities and increase subscription rates to our newsletters. Acxiom provided consulting on global privacy policies to help BMC Software craft their own privacy policy and assisted BMC Software in leveraging AbiliTec to re-launch e-mail direct-marketing activities.

STRENGTHS: Our implementation provided immediate return on our investment, avoided brand damage, assisted with privacy consulting and provided CDI/data cleansing.

WEAKNESSES: Weaknesses of the product include problems with parent/child relationships. (The link doesn't necessarily tell you that Bank A, a retailer with credit card managed by Bank A, and Bank A branch are the same company.) Also, integrated data must be continually redeployed into client systems.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We selected Acxiom for their industry expertise, consulting/implementation services availability (service after the sale); accuracy of integration/matching/linking technology; and ability to build the business case that showed that hard-dollar benefits (cost savings) alone would pay for the project.

DELIVERABLES: AbiliTec ties our customer data together quickly and cost-effectively. It allows us to connect, in real time, all of our customer information, regardless of the channel by which we are communicating with that customer. That recognition allows us to make bold moves with direct mail, e-mail and telemarketing, knowing that we have a clear picture of who we are working with and the way they prefer that we use to communicate with them ­ and even whether or not they want us to contact them at all. Acxiom's value to us also included consulting on the implementation and the integration with existing systems as well as establishing connections from BMC Software facilities to Acxiom data centers for processing.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Acxiom's consulting services are a key piece of our relationship. From the very beginning, Acxiom deeply immersed itself in BMC Software's data needs, carefully listening to the marketing and IT staff as they described their goals and hurdles. During the consultation, Acxiom carefully examined each of the company's disparate databases and created a plan that would help them share knowledge.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation was complete and easy to understand.

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