Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Alterian Alchemy Knits Together Marketing Components

Summary: Alterian just announced Alchemy, which provides a new interface and tight integration across existing components.

Alterian last week announced a new generation of products called Alchemy. It’s positioning these as “customer engagement solutions” rather than “campaign management” solutions. The general idea seems to be that customer engagement involves digital dialogs while traditional campaign management is mostly about outbound messages.

Happily, there’s more here than new labels. The main changes, set for release next March, are:

- an integrated framework to share customer information and marketing data (campaign plans, contents, etc.) across channels. This is supported by a new capability to read data in Microsoft SQL Server databases without first loading it into Alterian’s own database engine.

- a new user interface built using the Microsoft Silverlight platform. This is highly configurable and includes specific new tools for building queries, campaigns, and dashboards. The campaign builder in particular has been updated to support trigger-driven, multi-step processes in a branching flow chart.

The company also plans to expand integration with KXEN for predictive analytics, although it hasn’t set a release date.

Alchemy will also include revised and expanded versions of Alterian's social media, Web content management, Web analytics, and email solutions. These will be released throughout the first half of next year. A detailed roadmap is available in the Alchemy FAQ.

Pricing for Alchemy hasn’t been announced, but it will be somewhat higher than current Alterian products. The old products will remain available to serve what Alterian now refers to as “traditional” marketers.

Alchemy is a bit tough to assess. It doesn't add many new functions, but Alterian already had an extremely broad set of capabilities. I think what’s really happening is it knits together products that Alterian had previously acquired but not truly integrated. This is delivering on an old promise, not creating a revolution. Still, it should let marketers do a substantially better job at managing customer relationships across all channels. Revolutionary or not, that's an improvement well worth having.

1 comment:

Michael said...

the new Alchemy UI is a major step forward for Alterian. In a product category that looks largely like it did a decade ago, Alterian has made a major step forward. It will especially appeal to light users who want to avoid a deeper investment in understanding complex data selects.

More challenging is the Alterian architecture and how that will evolve. Alterian is probably the best application ever built for direct marketing. As direct marketing gives way to more Internet centric marketing, with real time requirements, Alterian will be challenged to bring all of their disparate pieces together under this new umbrella. It will be interesting to see how they fair with new head to head competition from Neolane and Entiera who both have much newer products.