Amdocs upgrades Clarify suite

Amdocs Ltd., owner of the Clarify software line, this week is announcing its first upgrade of the once-pioneering customer relationship management (CRM) suite.

ClarifyCRM 11 will include a new integration gateway, process manager and support for thin clients, which are aimed at making it easier for companies to deploy Clarify software and link it to their other systems, Amdocs said.

Clarify was an early leader in the CRM market but faded from view during the period it was owned by Nortel Inc. When Nortel announced plans to buy Clarify for $2.1 billion in October 1999, Clarify was No. 2 in market share behind Siebel Systems Inc. Today it's No. 11, according to AMR Research Inc. in Boston.

Amdocs, which bought Clarify for $200 million in November 2001, wants to regain some of that lost market share.

"We have our eye on No. 1," said Dror Pockard, Amdocs' Clarify division president.

Amdocs also makes billing and order management software, primarily for telecommunications firms. The company has incorporated some of its analytic tools and order management features in the new Clarify suite, Pockard said.

Version 11 features a new architecture that includes browser-based access. Thin-client support isn't uncommon -- CRM rival PeopleSoft Inc. introduced a Web-based architecture with PeopleSoft 8, as did Siebel Systems with Siebel 7.

Amdocs stresses that Version 11 lets browser-based and client/server applications coexist. Companies can manage thin and thick clients through the same database, which lets them stagger upgrades, Pockard said. For example, a company might want its sales force to migrate to thin clients while keeping its local call center employees on a client/server setup.

"Clients want to pick and choose where it makes sense to switch to thin clients and don't want to do heavy implementation where it's not required," Pockard said.

Washington-based Cogent Communications Inc., a systems integration division of EADS Telecom, will support thin and thick clients internally and for its customers. At the U.K. Ministry of Defence, a Cogent customer, high-security communications personnel will retain client/server applications while 15,000 others get the new browser-based applications.

Also new in ClarifyCRM 11 is Process Manager, for defining, managing and automating business processes. This module is built on workflow capabilities that Amdocs developed in cooperation with customer British Telecom. "We believe that's the way to approach development -- with a leading customer," Pockard said.

Process management is a fairly new idea for a lot of CRM vendors, so Amdocs is on par with its competition, said David Hawley, an analyst in The Yankee Group's telecommunications software strategies group.

"Users have struggled with the gaps between sales, marketing and service," Hawley said. "Products like Process Manager allow companies to move out of those stovepipe processes. It's not an all-encompassing solution, but it's steps in the right direction."

Jean-Noel Ribeyrol, director of technology systems at French telephone company Spie Communications, said that Spie could use Process Manager to automate certain paper processes and ensure that service employees follow protocol when creating and resolving support cases.

"It could be interesting for us to use this new module, if it interacts well with other Clarify applications," Ribeyrol said.

Amdocs also focused its upgrade efforts on an integration gateway for ClarifyCRM that provides XML-based links for exchanging data among Clarify software and other systems. The new Billing Manager module provides prebuilt integration between ClarifyCRM and Amdocs' billing software.

Amdocs plans to create a packaged integration tool for linking Clarify with order management software. A voice portal also is in the works, Pockard said.

This story, "Amdocs upgrades Clarify suite" was originally published by Network World.

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