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*IBM Campaign Management Software Designed For Small, Mid-Size Clients

In a move to get smaller companies using its marketing technology, IBM Corp. plans this month to begin globally selling software designed to tap into the “dialoguing” movement among Net marketers.

The technology giant will charge a base price of $75,000 for the software – a price that Meta Group Inc. lead data warehouse analyst Doug Laney characterized as “pretty attractive” compared to competing marketing software.

The product analyzes marketers’ historical customer data and information from third parties to help businesses choose the best campaign or promotion to pitch to prospects. It also examines the best way to reach those prospects, be it through direct mail, telephone, e-mail or automatic teller machines.

“I kind of liken it to [Garry] Kasparov playing chess tournaments,” said Kip Johnson, worldwide solutions manager in IBM’s business intelligence group. “The guy’s thinking 20, 25 moves ahead. This is kind of the same type of thing, where marketers want to be able to identify what offers and messages they want to send to particular customer segments.”

IBM emphasized the product’s ability to handle campaigns over a long period of time. Long-term communication with customers is one hallmark of the “dialog marketing” philosophy that dominates whole areas of the e-commerce world.

The software was developed at IBM Japan and is slated to be available internationally March 17. Called DecisionEdge for Campaign Management, the technology is already used by nine Pacific Rim clients but hasn’t been available in Europe or the United States.

IBM, Armonk, NY, is keeping the technology relatively cheap in hopes of drawing more small and medium-sized businesses that might have been priced out of the company’s products previously. Johnson conceded that IBM has a reputation as a company that makes technology for big companies.

“Yes, that’s kind of the perception with IBM, and historically there’s probably some validity to that,” he said. But a company using the new software in Asia has less than half a million records in its database of customer information. He did not identify the company. The technology is designed for use by both business-to-consumer and business-to-business marketers.

However, it doesn’t do everything. It does not, for example, transmit e-mails or place banners. DecisionEdge assists with selecting offers and it can report out information in spreadsheets. IBM often signs outside business partners to handle outbound e-mail and other marketing steps.

The company is touting the software as a good complement to its servers, storage products, and data mining software. Johnson said it would be a “possibility” for an IBM customer to use DecisionEdge in conjunction with a second company’s data analysis software.

Japanese investment house Sumitomo Trust & Banking Co., which uses DecisionEdge in hand with IBM’s data mining technology, saw customer response rates swell from 1.2 percent to 6 percent after it switched to the software. The bank’s 50 domestic branches now share customer data.

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