Stimulus funds to help boost’s CRM abilities

Armed with stimulus funds, Amtrak plans to construct an enterprise data warehouse, develop a master data management plan, relaunch for improved usability and upgrade its CRM program. The projects will be funded from the $1.3 billion Amtrak is receiving as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

The site relaunch and CRM initiative, which should build on an plan launched in 2008, are slated to cost $3.4 million and should be completed by 2011. The new site will be able to deliver targeted messaging — based on behavioral, demographic and modeled data — to its 6 million unique monthly visitors. Customers also will be able to “talk back” to the company through a new dynamic survey capability.

A shopping cart, which allows users to add purchases such as car rentals, hotels and tours, also will be added to the site, along with enhanced service alerts and “near sold out” alerts.

“The current Web site was developed more than five years ago and must be replaced to satisfy our customers and avoid the risk of losing access to over half of Amtrak’s passenger revenue,” according to Amtrak’s project justification statement. “ is the company’s most cost-effective sales and marketing vehicle.”

Without this investment in CRM, the company noted it would miss the opportu­nity to improve customer service and gener­ate incremental revenue. Amtrak estimates the enhancements will generate enough incremental revenue within the first full year of operation to pay for the investment.

Representatives for Amtrak did not return requests for comment.

The enterprise data project, to be com­pleted by February 2011, is expected to cost $10 million. The goal is to organize and load data from multiple sources into a single warehouse, enabling consolidated dashboards and reports.

“Amtrak lacks an enterprise data ware­house and associated data marts that provide cross-functional, historical and detailed data across the full enterprise. Currently criti­cal key data is managed through manual, non-standard and non-repeatable processes that are costly, inefficient and error prone,” reads Amtrak’s project justification. “The Enterprise Data Warehouse will address a need for trusted data access and availability. It will provide the business with a highly available platform for online analysis of data from across the Enterprise.”

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