Computer Associates jumps into CRM pool

By Denise Dubie, Network World |  Software

ISLANDIA, N.Y. -- Computer Associates may be late to the customer relationship management software party, but observers say the company still has a good shot at winning over customers because of the way it has neatly integrated the pieces of its suite.

CA's Intelligent CRM Suite consists of four components that can work separately or together. The Customer Intelligence piece sends information to customers at their request and also reports back to the company what the customer is seeking or buying. The Sales and Marketing component, by using the Wireless Application Protocol, lets mobile staff tap in to customer-specific automated sales and marketing tools via the Web. The Customer Service tool lets customers develop an automated customer service desk platform, and the Human Touch software lets users add personalization into their automated help-desk features.

The CRM suite works with CA's Jasmineii Portal, which delivers data from multiple sources to desktops.

It's no wonder that CA is going after the CRM market, says Sharon Ward, a director at Hurwitz Group. She says recent research shows companies planning to devote half of their new IT initiative spending to CRM projects.

Ward says CA's integration efforts could differentiate its offering from those of competitors such as Siebel, Epiphany and PeopleSoft, which last week announced extensions to its CRM suite. "It's one of the few that gives you everything you need for CRM and has it all integrated right out of the box," Ward says.

The Intelligent CRM Suite is available now and starts at $25,000 per server and $2,000 per seat.

In other CA news, the company announced it is changing the way it licenses software to customers. The company will now give customers more flexibility in defining the length and dollar value of their contracts, and new contracts will be based on a simpler and shorter license agreement. The changes could result in discounts and enable customers to less expensively change their contracts to meet new software needs.

This is in response to the fact that "customers have found past contractual dealings with the company difficult, daunting and off-putting," says Michael Dortch, principal research analyst at Robert Frances Group. "This contractual flexibility should persuade IT executives to be more willing to consider trial deployments of new CA products and technologies."

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