NCR Brings CRM Application to NT

Continuing its push into the Windows NT world, NCR Corp. ( unveiled an integrated customer relationship management (CRM) application.

InteractionPlus, a product that forms the technical cornerstone of NCR’s Customer Interaction Solutions (CIS) suite, is going into beta testing in the next few weeks.

InteractionPlus, built using the Microsoft COM/DCOM architecture, integrates information that comes from three packaged NCR applications: Call Center Solution, Kiosk-based Solution and Customer Interaction Web Solution. Professional services and support also come with the CIS suite.

"It’s the first application developed by NCR specifically for Teradata on Windows NT," says Martin Sinnott, NCR’s director of marketing strategy.

NCR ported its Teradata RDBMS from Unix to Windows NT in 1998. On NCR’s flavor of Unix, Teradata supports massively parallel processing (MPP) with a theoretical limit of 512 nodes and more than 2,000 processors. Those MPP capabilities are not yet available on Windows NT. NCR’s move to Windows NT was viewed in the short term more as extending Teradata’s market down from the very large database space to customers wanting lower end applications.

But NCR, long a producer of the hardware-software combinations common in restaurants and retail, has also been shifting toward the software end of the spectrum. Within that shift, Sinnott says, "CRM is the future for our company."

CRM and customer behavior modeling is an increasingly common term for software packages that convert customer transaction data into usable information for business analysis and telephone or online customer support professionals.

NCR expects its suite to compete with product and services portfolios from IBM Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and the major systems integrators.

"InteractionPlus is addressing a need in the marketplace to consolidate fragmented information about customers," Sinnott says. The product consists of two modules: Customer Interaction Manager and Customer Personalization Manager. The Customer Interaction Manager collects transaction data from the call center, Web site or Internet kiosk and maintains it in a database on Windows NT, either Teradata or Microsoft SQL Server. Customer Personalization Manager is a combination of NCR-developed and Cognos Corp. ( tools for querying and reporting the data. The module is intended to serve as a workbench for marketing analysts to develop marketing campaigns based on the data.

Of the CIS suite components that the Customer Interaction Manager connects with, only the Internet kiosks are an entirely NCR solution. The kiosks are free-standing, interactive terminals that can be placed in retail stores, airports or stadiums. They allow customers to make queries and find specifics on products and services a company offers.

The call center tool and Web components, which have also been offered on a stand-alone basis, combine partner tools and software with NCR clustering products, software integration and services.

NCR’s professional services address planning, design and implementation. The company’s support services provide a single point of contact for the complex, multi-vendor solutions.