PRODUCT PROFILE

Chordiant 5.5: Eye on the Business Process

Chordiant is rolling out version 5.5 of its business process automation suite. The offering, which aims to help users manage an abundance of customer information, focuses on service-driven verticals, such as retail financial services.

In fact, financial services is leading the industry in optimizing consumer relationships, Erin Kinikin, vice president and research leader at Giga/Forrester Research, told CRM Buyer. Telecom services will be the next big opportunity for this type of service, she added.

“With advanced CRM implementation, it’s not enough to collect customer information…. You have to be able to act on it,” Kinikin explained, noting that a business process focus is essential for this task.

Following the Rules

The new software allows users to manage operational business processes that are unique to their organization. “With 5.5, business users can use tools to make modifications so the application can reflect what they do,” David Straus, Chordiant senior vice president of product marketing, told CRM Buyer.

For example, he explained, an application for a credit-card contact center has 32 business processes specific to that space. A “rules” function allows managers to define policies using a spreadsheet-like interface with drag-and-drop features. Meanwhile, a graphical process editor lets companies assess customer needs and automatically triggers such actions as cross-sell offers and fee waivers, among other services.

Outstanding in the Field

The software also includes field-marketing functions, which foster collaboration between central offices and local branches. Branch managers can participate in or opt out of centrally managed campaigns.

Providing field managers with tools to generate leads and support selling is crucial, Straus said. “A lot of banks are hiring branch managers with sales backgrounds, and 5.5 delivers selling tools into their hands.”

Successful business-process implementation also requires smooth integration with existing systems. “A lot of financial services companies have 50 to 100 customer databases and sources of customer information. They want to access customer information wherever it exists and take action on it,” Kinikin said.

J2EE Pioneer

One key to smooth integration is Chordiant’s experience with J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition), according to Kinikin.

Straus agreed, noting that whereas Chordiant’s business process automation suite has run on XML J2EE since 2001, competitors are just getting started with this technology. “We don’t know anyone [else] with full XML J2EE,” he said. “Some are talking about having their road maps put them there in 2005.”

However, although Chordiant may be a pioneer in J2EE, it does have competition in the business process automation space. Other contenders include E.piphany, Pegasystems and Siebel.

Getting Real

Chordiant also is focused on real-time integration. Its Straight Through Service Processing (STSP) features integrate with various systems and data to provide a single view of the customer across the organization in real-time. STSP includes business, integration and system services as well as enterprise business process management.

Enhancements to STSP in version 5.5 include real-time event analysis. This functionality not only can influence customer processes by, for example, identifying which products to cross-sell, but also can help identify potential problems, such as fraud or an impending bankruptcy.

In addition, the upgrade includes a scalable thin client for contact centers and support for wireless messaging.

Initial pricing for Chordiant 5.5 starts at US$1.5 million.

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