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ATG updates portal, e-commerce platform

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As e-commerce matures, so do e-commerce platforms.
Last month, Art Technology Group Inc. announced a new version of its popular commerce and publishing platform that strengthens its focus on online customer relationship management while adding new capabilities designed to help b-to-b marketers get their jobs done.

The updated ATG6 Commerce, Portal and Relationship Management platforms—along with some significant new add-on modules—will be rolled out this year and next.

Overall, ATG executives say they’ll continue to drive the message that online marketing is a new medium and requires new tools.

"We’re not changing our positioning or saying we’re a brand- new company, like many of our competitors have," said Fumi Matsumoto, VP-technology. "We’ve been very consistent [that we provide] online CRM, and we’ll continue to do that."

Matsumoto said there continues to be a big difference between online CRM and traditional CRM, which typically involves managing customers and in some cases sales force activities across multiple channels, including in-store, call centers and in the field.

"Online CRM is very different," he said. "It’s not employees, like marketers or sales people, that ultimately use the software. It’s customers and partners. You have to have the ability to be flexible and adjust to the way they want to do business online."

ATG is trying to meet the needs of online marketers with a new product that offers more "pre-integrated" tools—another way of saying that customers get more capabilities right out of the box rather than having to try to cobble together the e-commerce tools they need.

To that end, the new ATG6 platform includes four optional modules that can add complementary capabilities to the core commerce and portal platforms:

•ATG Publishing provides tools to help companies manage and deploy digital assets. It’s not a full content management and Web publishing platform but can help companies handle many content publishing tasks.

•ATG Search is a new module based on technology from vendor Autonomy Corp.. It brings enterprise-class search functionality right into the ATG system.

•ATG Analytics is based on an OLAP reporting engine from vendor Hyperion Solutions Corp. It helps customers better gauge the success of their e-commerce efforts and uncover new opportunities they might be missing, Matsumoto said.

"Second- and third-generation commerce Web sites really care about optimizing financial results by trying to determine how they can increase spend per visit or how to push higher-margin products," Matsumoto said.

•ATG Integration adds support for SAP and Siebel to an existing module for integration with Tibco Software.

ATG sees a strong opportunity selling its e-commerce and portal platforms to customers that are focused on sales and marketing functions, said Victor Cheng, ATG’s senior director of commerce.

Novant Health, a not-for-profit health care system, recently used the ATG platform to build three corporate portals to serve its audience, including clinicians and nursing staff. The portal lets the company’s workers spend their time dealing with patients, rather than paperwork, said Doug Smith, director of e-business for Novant Health. "Our workers no longer spend hours weeding through a glut of information," he said.

ATG6 is in beta testing today. Pricing for individual modules has not been determined.

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