Bigfoot Interactive, Fujitsu in CRM Deal

  |  July 29, 2002   |  Comments

The arrangement could presage further alliances between CRM players and e-mail specialists.

E-mail marketing shop Bigfoot Interactive will move into the arena of customer relationship management, through a new deal with the CRM software unit of Tokyo-based technology giant Fujitsu Ltd.

New York-based Bigfoot, which markets a both full-service consultancy and ASP products, now will license its code to Fujitsu for use in the Japanese technology player's packaged CRM software suite.

The code, which handles list management, segmentation, content assembly, personalization, quality control, delivery and reporting, will replace Fujitsu's own outbound email communications module. In return, Bigfoot receives licensing fees and support fees, as well as branding within the email component itself.

Fujitsu is expected to roll out the Bigfoot-powered module within months as part of a wider upgrade to its customer support, e-commerce, salesforce and marketing automation CRM product. Initial deployment will be into the Japanese market, where Fujitsu's client base is centralized.

"The addition of Bigfoot Interactive's sophisticated email communications technology represents an exciting opportunity for us as we further extend the power and capabilities of our marketing automation product to new and existing Fujitsu clients," said Masahiro Tateiwa, development director of Fujitsu's CRM solution suite. "With the Bigfoot Interactive technology driving our targeted email functionality, our CRM offering will provide a high level of relevancy, effectiveness and reliability for all our clients' outbound email communications."

For Bigfoot Interactive, the deal is a major win, and executives expect it to pave the way for greater interest by the major CRM players in the technology developed by email marketing specialists.

"A lot of CRM players are looking at the email module portion of their suite and realizing that as email has evolved and become a part of the mainstream -- a part of how companies communicate with customers -- they don't have a good campaign management module," said Bigfoot Chief Executive Al DiGuido. "They've built up customer service and salesforce automation modules, but ... their customers weren't really happy with the email module."

For Fujitsu, the offering becomes a value-add against competitors like Siebel and PeopleSoft . The move also comes as SOAP and XML-based Web services are gaining ground -- services which some believe will be more appealing to customers looking to assemble best-of-breed solutions, rather than adopt packaged CRM solutions.

A move like this by Fujitsu, then, would not only make its product more appealing competitively against other packaged solutions, but also as a buttress against open-standards-based providers.

"I think you'll see more relationships like this created," DiGuido added. "You're going to see more CRM players [doing this], as they look at their installations and start to talk to their own customers. And we'll no doubt draw attention from a lot of the other CRM players out there. I wouldn't say this would be the last."

Such a development, should it come to pass, could prove a boon for the firms in email marketing, who can repurpose homegrown code after having spent millions developing and deploying it in connection with their own offerings.

"We built the technology to service our own needs and those of our clients, and this is another channel to amortize the cost of development and infrastructure," DiGuido said. "It's a very profitable channel for us."

The agreement also comes as Bigfoot is making headway in its efforts to grow ASP sales. Earlier this year, the firm began marketing services geared for specific industry verticals, in a bid to better segment and service clients.

Coincidentally, the Fujitsu deal came about as an outgrowth of such efforts, DiGuido said.

"When you're inside an automotive company and start showing them the types of solutions you can deploy for them, they start to compare with their own CRM solutions and say this is far superior to what they have installed," he said. "Fujitsu is first in terms of ramping up ... you'll see more of these."

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