E.piphany Grows Customer Relationship Backbone

Suite's set of J2EE-based services supports customer-focused business processes, but the company's small user base may make it an attractive takeover target.

The backbone of E.piphany Inc.’s revamped customer relationship management (CRM) suite is just that—a backbone, a Customer Relationship Backbone, to be precise, which the company expects will appeal to a customer base that typically deploys its CRM solutions alongside competitive offerings from other vendors.

When it debuts later this month, E.piphany 6.5 will boast several new goodies, including three new applications—E.piphany TeleSales, E.piphany Contact Center, and E.piphany Event-Driven Marketing. But it’s the Customer Relationship BackBone, a set of J2EE-based services that the company says can support customer-focused business processes, which could make or break it—and its eponymous parent company—in the marketplace.

E.piphany is one of the smallest of stand-alone CRM vendors in an industry that is consolidating around several larger players. Additionally, the company has committed to a conventional, on-premise CRM application delivery model even as hosted CRM solutions from Salesforce.com, Salesnet, and now Siebel Systems Inc. are gaining traction.

The upshot, says Kelly Spang Ferguson, a principal CRM analyst with consultancy Current Analysis Inc., is that E.piphany is at a crossroads. With a base of about 460 customers, E.piphany has fewer accounts—less than half, for the record—than hosted CRM provider UpShot Corp., which was snapped up by Siebel last month.

That could make it an attractive acquisition candidate for a larger vendor looking to build out its analytics and operational CRM capabilities, speculates Spang Ferguson. “At a time of market consolidation, it is questionable whether E.piphany has the market reach and the financial resources to remain an independent company,” she says, noting that E.piphany continues to lose money as well, in spite of positive financial results.

In this respect, the Customer Relationship Backbone is important. E.piphany distinguished itself as a provider of marketing applications and has fleshed out a full CRM suite that provides a variety of capabilities designed to appeal to large enterprises. Consequently, company officials acknowledge, E.piphany is often deployed alongside CRM offerings from its competitors. By virtue of its J2EE underpinnings, the Customer Relationship Backbone gives E.piphany a relatively open integration story to shop around to customers.

But E.piphany isn’t the only traveler on the service-oriented architecture high road. Both Siebel and SAP AG have touted, respectively, their Universal Application Network (UAN) and NetWeaver application integration frameworks. As a result of this, notes Spang Ferguson, the company must be careful about how it markets the Customer Relationship Backbone. “E.piphany should also be cautious in trying to position itself as unique in its approach using a services-oriented architecture, given that rivals [Siebel and SAP] have also moved in this direction and have competing capabilities for application integration and business process management,” she comments.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.