Chordiant tackles open CRM architecture

CRM vendor Chordiant has issued a new suite featuring its marketing, selling and service applications. Analysts think Chordiant 5's main selling point is the open architecture upon which it is built.

Chordiant Software is looking to cash in on demand for flexibility with a new suite of enterprise applications

built around open architectures.

This week the Cupertino, Calif.-based CRM vendor rolled out Chordiant 5. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the product is that it's based on a blend of open computing languages, Java-based J2EE and XML.

Chordiant has labeled its flavor of open computing language as the JX Architecture. The strategy behind the concept is to be able to scale quickly for massive numbers of customers while retaining some level of flexibility through a modular design.

"We don't have simply a custom tag library, we don't just use applets, we use J2EE across all the tiers of the platform," said Brendan Abbott, product manager for Chordiant. "Since we're based on open standards, customers know we can support a lot of change and that there's always more room to grow."

The suite includes the company's marketing application, selling and service application and the Chordiant 5 enterprise platform that addresses various server applications, including collaboration and interaction.

Abbot also believes the strategy helps to further establish Chordiant among the current field of vendors -- ranging from those featuring packaged applications to those that custom-build their offerings.

"I think [Chordiant 5] positions us in the middle of a very broad spectrum," he said.

Analyst hails open architecture

At least one analyst believes that Chordiant may be on to something good.

Denis Pombriant, research director at Boston-based Aberdeen Group, feels there is a growing move toward CRM products built on open platforms.

"I think it's a really smart move," he said. "My research over the last 6-8 months has pointed to a need for CRM vendors to embrace modularity and architectures like Java and here with an XML combination. I see an inflection point occurring in the marketplace where customer service is going to be almost more important than anything."

According to Pombriant, architecture dictates methodology and flexible architectures built on object-oriented platforms enable rapid change. Benefits include faster implementation and a decreased dependency on template-style applications or best practices.

"This kind of architectural approach may still be pre-conscious for customers, with so many people questioning how to affect their CRM in more productive ways," he said. "But this uncertain environment is fertile ground for this sort of message."

Pombriant said he feels Chordiant may find the most favorable reception among the banking, financial services and utilities industries, where it already has a strong installed customer base, but it may also appeal to other organizations dealing with huge numbers of customers.

Looking forward, the analyst said Chordiant would most likely move to build-in sales force automation applications so that it can expand to additional vertical markets.

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