Tibco going up against Oracle, IBM and Adobe with new customer engagement platform

Tibco Engage seeks to go beyond mere customer loyalty programs

Add Tibco to the list of vendors pushing a full stack of so-called "customer engagement" software, which companies use to track and analyze consumer behavior in hopes of building deeper relationships with them and ultimately, selling more products and services.

Tibco Engage, announced Monday, is a SaaS (software as a service) package that builds on the vendor's Loyalty Lab product for customer loyalty programs. Also in the mix is Tibco's event-processing technology, capabilities for social networking and communities, and connections to third-party sales and marketing systems.

But Engage is far from a "Frankenstein" put together a la carte from Tibco's product list, said Leandro Perez, director of product marketing for customer engagement and social. Much work has been done to present marketers with a simple, unified interface that shields them from the plumbing at work behind the scenes, he said.

Customer engagement isn't just about sending repeat customers coupons or special offers, as is seen with typical loyalty programs, Perez said. The goal is to gain a much better understanding of what a given company or brand's customers want, and getting it to them.

For example, customers may visit a company's e-commerce store, shop around, but then eventually abandon their shopping carts without making a purchase. Later that week, they may walk past a physical store and cross a geo-fence that recognizes their mobile device, thanks to a mobile app from the company they installed, kicking off a process that sends them a special promotional offer about the item they browsed online.

In order to perform this type of function at scale, rather than individually for each shopper, Engage provides a rules framework with which marketers can create what Tibco calls "engagement flows."

Oracle, Salesforce.com, IBM, Adobe and others are also working to build out customer engagement stacks, with slightly varying approaches.

Tibco is betting it can have an edge by offering customers tighter integration between Engage's parts, while keeping the platform open to plug into related third-party software for marketing automation, CRM (customer relationship management) and other areas.

The SaaS deployment model is another selling point, Perez said. "We're trying to make this as simple as possible. Marketing departments don't really have an appetite for year-long rollouts."

Engage is priced according to the number of customer profiles a company wants to be able to handle, rather than by the seat, given that some companies may have millions of customers in their database while smaller ones have comparatively few, Perez said.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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