PeopleSoft Inc. is employing a technology dubbed customer behavior modeling to help shift its analytics approach from descriptive to predictive.
The Pleasanton, Calif.-based enterprise applications provider included the first release of its customer behavior modeling (CBM) software in the latest iteration of its performance management suite. The company said the behavior modeling technology is designed to help customers gain a hold on trends as they emerge.
"We've always built analytical solutions to work hand in hand with enterprise solutions but the idea is that the process is no longer just about collecting and reporting data, it's about leveraging that information into something more concrete," said Robb Eklund, vice president of product marketing for CRM at PeopleSoft. "Our customers are making huge investments and building in behavior modeling gives companies the ability to look forward rather than making critical decisions strictly using historical information."
A sports allusion that Eklund uses to illustrate his point comes from hockey.
"The idea is to skate where the puck is going to be, not where it just was," he said.
Put simply, customer behavior modeling does exactly what you would expect it to, based on its name. The application utilizes data mining technology to cull customer information from across an enterprise and pulls the results together to build individual profiles. The program is also built to analyze characteristics in the profiles and identify common elements or group customers together based on similarities.
While the technology might appear at first glance as little more than a new spin on existing analytical or data mining applications, industry watchers are giving PeopleSoft credit for putting themselves ahead of the industry curve.
"The term data modeling has been sullied a bit as its been used by a lot of companies to differentiate but this is no casual selling point, this is hard core stuff that hits at the heart of the CTO," said Mary Wardley, director of CRM applications at research firm International Data Corp., Framingham, Mass.
"There's an emerging re-appreciation of the impact of data models and data structures because a lot of people have simply thrown software at their CRM problem," she said. "You can throw all kinds of software at the problem but if it doesn't address business process and the data that drives it, you're going to end up with a whole load of highly electronic nothing."
Among the industries where CBM is already gaining a following are the financial services sector and in businesses where a high churn rate drives future planning. Telecommunications companies have already embraced the movement, according to Eklund, as they struggle to hold onto customers in the current cutthroat competitive environment.
"These companies are using modeling because it allows them to say, 'We know the universe of our customers, we have a good idea who may defect away from us and now we can take this information and do something about it,' " he said.
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