One thing I learned in the past 20+ years of doing CRM – when a tool works, the vendor behind does not matter to the user. They can go out of business, be acquired, change their business model (what do we call that today? pivot?) or all together disappear. The user will continue to use the tools and be happy to do so. Once in a while they may need something new they cannot get and they will “jerry-rig” something with MS Office products.
Trust me, you don’t want to be between a marketer and their working campaign management tool, no matter what you have to offer. I have seen it with many vendors, and last week I saw it with Infor (nee E.piphany).
First, a little history — sorry, you knew it was coming, context is everything for me.
E.piphany was the de-facto standard for analytics and marketing in the first CRM iteration. Back when virtually all vendors were focused on the operational aspects of CRM, they were talking about this new thing called Analytics and how it could change marketing. They were focused on analyzing data to segment customers better (non-revenue and non-demographic segmentation) and monitor campaigns more accurately (results and ROI). Their tool would not be ‘feature-comparable’ if you brought it forth with no modifications or additions; back then it did a good job of analyzing the (then) myriad sources of operational and transactional data. They were well funded, well run, and most of the leading Marketing vendors from today have someone who worked at E.piphany back then (or was associated with them via a tight partnership). Between them and Blue Martini, they “seeded” today’s marketing and analytics visions and products.
In CRM speak, they were Leet (sorry, could not help it) together with KANA for Customer Service and Siebel for SFA. Ah, the good old days…
Fast forward a few years, they all were acquired or retreated to rebuild, and E.piphany ended up in the Infor portfolio. Most of the good people left, went to other vendors and helped build new marketing and analytics engines while Infor tried to figure out what to do. Infor was not so sure, until about 18 months ago, what to do with it – it languished for some time. Alas, the power of the vision and the core product did not went away and the die-hard loyal customers continued to use it for the intended purpose with zealot.
I am saying this because last week Infor invited me to speak to a gathering of their clients (disclaimer below).
I had the opportunity to talk to a few of them after I was done presenting about The Long Tail of Marketing (slides below) and I found out some very interesting things. The ones that had been clients for a while had never stopped using their products and were now happy with the renewed focus and new versions (one already released, another on the way – addressing social and the rest of today’s needs, but that is not why I am writing this). The new customers were quite pleased at the ease of use of the product when compared to some of the larger solutions they had in house for analytics (not going to name names here, not the purpose of this). All in all, they all praised what Infor (E.piphany) could do for them.
Of course, what caught my attention (and what caused me to write this) was the general perspective of long-term clients that what we are trying to do today with Big Data, Analytics, BI, and all these “fancy names” (as one of them put it) is something they had been doing for some 10+ years using the old product. They shared their projects and their results with me and they are some of the things we are advocating (sans social channels) most organizations to take on today: segmentation beyond revenue, proactively tend to needs, flexible data aggregation, predictive business models, and similar.
It was being done before, using tools that we should consider “old” by now.
I saw customers happy with what they had, that learned over time how to use them properly, and that were thankful that E.piphany (back then) had the vision to focus on analytics and provide them with a tool / platform for them to use. I also saw a vendor that is energized, after a long hiatus, and with some key people back in charge (a lot of people from the old days are back driving the product strategy and vision as well as the execution). I saw an interesting combination that made me curious to see where they can take it in the next 2-3 years. In conversations and presentations I saw the same vision for Analytics that they had back in the days, but updated for today’s world.
All in all, I’d say that Infor (E.piphany) just came back to the future they envisioned some 10+ years ago, and seem to be resuming where they left off. Something to watch in the next ten years, I guess.
disclaimer: the event was in Barcelona where (other than a general strike on my departure date) I had a great time in addition to the event — I was paid a fee for speaking as well as expenses; the fee did not include writing this post or being nice to them.