*Microsoft Signs Acxiom to Use AbiliTec

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Acxiom Corp., Little Rock, AR, a customer data integration system vendor, announced yesterday a long-term contract with Microsoft Corp., Redmond, WA, that will enable the software giant to use AbiliTec, Acxiom's customer data integration software, to deepen and improve its customer relationships.


"AbiliTec will allow Microsoft to smartly integrate the information and preferences that our customers have provided us from a variety of areas like our Web site, software registrations and customer service center," said Allison Cornia, who is responsible for all database marketing in Microsoft's home and retail division. The division markets products such as Encarta, Works Suite and the forthcoming XBox.


"The idea is to recognize and reward our customers when they contact us, whether it's by telephone, mail or via the Internet," Cornia said. "We value our close relationship with consumers, and we realize that the more ways we communicate with them, the harder it can be to keep customer information current and consistent.


"If a customer changed addresses last year, or got married and changed her name, that doesn't change our obligation to know how we've done business with her in the past, what her interests are and how she prefers to be contacted."


Cornia said that the "unified view of customer data that we'll get with AbiliTec will improve customer satisfaction and retention through increasingly personalized customer interaction."


In searching for a solution to the challenges of customer data integration, Microsoft chose Acxiom because of the superiority of the software; the real-time aspect of AbiliTec; and the flexibility of AbiliTec to support multiple marketing tactics, whether they are targeted at the household or the individual consumer.


Scott Nelson, vice president and research director at GartnerGroup, Stamford, CT, said, "A single view of the customer is at the heart of any successful customer relationship management program. … Obtaining that all-important single view hinges squarely on the ability to achieve real-time and accurate integration of customer data."

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