Researchers at IBM’s India Research Laboratory have developed software technology that uses sophisticated math algorithms to extract and deliver business insights hidden within the information gathered by companies during customer service calls and other interactions. The new business intelligence technology, called ProAct, is a text analytics tool, which automates previously manual analysis and evaluation of customer service calls and provides insight to help companies assess and improve their performance. ProAct provides an integrated analysis of structured information such as agent and product databases and unstructured data such as email, call logs, call transcription to identify reason for dissatisfaction, agent performance issues and typical product problems. Based on the Unstructured Information Management Analysis (UIMA) framework that IBM contributed to the open source Apache Software Foundation in 2006, the ProAct technology was initially developed as a service engagement. Now the new algorithms are being packaged in software and deployed in many IBM call center customers around the world. UIMA is an open source software framework that helps organizations build new analysis technologies that help organizations gain more insight from their unstructured information by discovering relationships, identifying patterns, and predicting outcomes. IBM uses UIMA to enable text analysis, extraction and concept search capabilities in other parts of its portfolio of enterprise search software products, including OmniFind Enterprise Edition, OmniFind Analytics Edition, and OmniFind Yahoo! Edition. http://www.research.ibm.com/irl/
I try keep up with the latest trends in IT strategy. (Some of my favorite sites are Darwin and IT Business Edge.) You know, the topics that are of interest to CIOs and other top-level business and technology minds. And I have to say that content management comes up sometimes in the trades, but when it comes to major headlines, all the rage these days is CRM—Customer Relationship Management.
It is interesting to me that CMS and CRM seem to have followed similar paths in terms of starting out as not-well-understood concepts and growing into fairly well defined systems with a prescribed set of functionality.
What I haven’t seen a lot of, though, to my surprise, is many people making a connection between CM and CRM—what to me would seem like a perfect marriage.
If you look at the many facets of CRM, you’ll find that it’s often very intricately interwoven (no product plug intended) with content. Take, for example, these aspects of CRM:
- Sales & Marketing Automation. A key task in the sales and marketing side of CRM is educating the customer (the well-targeted customer) about your products. How do you do that? You arm your sales staff, your Web site, e-mails, you call center teams, and your advertising channels with great content.
- Customer Care. The support piece of CRM relies heavily upon the discipline that we refer to as knowledge management. Especially in the area of post-sales support or tech support, where organizations are pushing for more self-service. This is a no-brainer. If you’re going to empower the customer to help themselves, how do you do it? With content.
- Personalization. I’ve long touted the fact that personalized communications with customers is a fabulous idea, but don’t even think about personalization until you have a solid content management foundation. I mean, seriously, it’s one thing to say, hey we’ve been able to divide our customers into these tiny demographic groups so we can send them messages that are right on target. But, guess what? Those targeted messages are content. Where should they live if not in a CMS?.
So, I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that there’s a potential new wave on the technology horizon. Maybe not tsunami size, but definitely good for surfing. It’s the vendors who start to recognize the powerful link between CMS and CRM.
In my crystal ball, the lines between knowledge management, content management, and customer relationship management will start to blur. As some already have, more CRM vendors will include document management (for things like managing contracts) in their suites. The Web plays a huge role in CRM. Will we see mergers of WCM and CRM companies?
Ironically, it almost seems that we’ve come full-circle back to the birthplace of CM (circa 1996) when Broadvision and Vignette dominated the CM marketplace and it was all about one-to-one customer communications. That (broad) vision was apparently too hard to realize back then! Maybe it’s possible now.
P.S. I’d love to hear your comments if you’ve been involved with any CMS/CRM integrations! Please add a comment or e-mail me at email@example.com.