Epsilon, MicroStrategy Form Partnership

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Epsilon, Burlington, MA, a database marketing services provider, and MicroStrategy Inc., Vienna, VA, a relational online analytical processing (ROLAP) vendor, are expected to announce today that they have joined forces to provide turn-key solutions for enterprise relationship management.


The partnership, which is designed to assist financial services, retail, catalog and telecommunications companies, will draw on Epsilon's database warehousing technologies and campaign management tools and MicroStrategy's DSS Suite of ROLAP tools -- DSS Agent, DSS Objects, DSS Web and DSS Broadcaster -- which deliver information from large-scale databases and let users query and analyze detailed, transaction-level databases.


The companies already are working together to solve customers' marketing problems, aid planning and provide information about how a campaign performed on specific accounts. But today marks the formal introduction of the partnership.


Ellen Pedersen, vice president of high-performance open systems at Epsilon, said the addition of MicroStrategy's ROLAP tools to Epsilon's campaign management tool -- Epsilon Campaign Manager -- for example, allows for more robust analyses.


"Customers can look at an overall campaign and then drill down or up to a specific segment, so they can compare and contrast how the campaign performed in a very user-friendly fashion. Other more general ad-hoc query tools would not allow this."


The companies said the partnership will let other firms acquire new customers, retain their current ones and give them the ability to offer one-to-one marketing solutions.


"The tools will facilitate very powerful customer segmentation," Pedersen said. "You really can, based on very sophisticated criteria, isolate small pockets of customers that have responded to specific offers or have similar demographics. This helps companies get close to their customers and allow them to target them in a very specific fashion."


Pedersen said that Epsilon doesn't have exclusive relationships with vendors and that it currently works with other data-mining, ad-hoc query, enterprise reporting and ROLAP vendors, in addition to its own utility tools. But, she said, the partnership will improve Epsilon's portfolio.


"We conducted a thorough evaluation of the OLAP market and talked to our customers about their preferred OLAP vendors," she said, "and we found that MicroStrategy offers an extremely robust architecture for handling large databases."


MicroStrategy, which also is free to partner with other companies, was impressed with Epsilon as well.


"Epsilon's core competence is developing and implementing large-scale database marketing solutions, and MicroStrategy has built its business on allowing companies to access and analyze such large systems," said spokeswoman Jennifer Fiumara.


Epsilon will integrate MicroStrategy's DSS products into prepackaged customer relationship management solutions for vertical markets. The first product, which will be introduced in a few weeks, will target retailers and will reduce the time it normally takes to build a custom solution from months to weeks.


Industry analysts predict a trend toward prepacked database marketing solutions.


"Of course, the difficulty here is that while it is easy to conceptualize the idea, it is much more difficult to actually put something in the hands of often nontechnical marketers that's going to get the job done," said Scott Nelson, vice president at the Gartner Group, Stamford, CT. "That's where a lot of these solutions have failed to materialize, but I would think these two companies working together are likely to be able to do something that works."
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