Corrections or additions?

This article by David Salowitz was prepared for the September 20,

2000 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper.

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E-Data Warehousing

In a world of gee whiz, jawdropping technology, there

is one ingredient few wired businesses can do without: Old-fashioned,

flesh and blood salespeople.

Even in an era buzzing with electronic transactions, there are

situations

"when you need to look someone in the eye and shake their hand

on the deal," says Michael Gersten, Computer Associates

International’s senior vice president of strategic accounts in

Manhattan

(646-458-7498, www.ca.com).

Gersten is the keynote speaker at the "E-data Warehousing:

Understanding

Your Customer" conference to be staged at the Newark Airport

Marriott

on Thursday, September 28, at 1:30 p.m. by the Global Electronic

Technology

ContactX (GetcontactX) Association. Also featured are Paul Weber

of Oracle Consulting, Kelvin Hubbard of RCG Information

Technology,

Morris Blatt of On Trac Solutions, Mitchell Chi of

Proscape

Technologies, and Mark Uncapher of Information Technology

Association

of America. Cost: $199 for non-members. Go to www.getctactx.com/events

or call 609-844-0880.

Gersten will discuss E-data warehousing as it relates to increasing

sales and revenues. "No matter how good your systems are,"

says Gersten, "if they are ahead of your ability to transact,

whether it’s business-to-business or business-to-consumer, then that

is where you need the personalization of the sales force."

Data warehousing enables companies to take use computers to retain

large amounts of information about consumers and businesses. The data

can be used to enhance relationships with customers and suppliers,

increase market share, lower costs, and boost profits.

When linked to the Internet, the process is called E-data warehousing,

and the information becomes readily available online. E-data

warehousing

uses the Internet to shorten the transaction cycle by sending an

E-mail,

instead of a letter, to a customer, Gersten says.

Through a website, a company can track customers as they encounter

promotions and product offers. In a technique called data mining,

the business can analyze a customer’s behavior and offer goods and

services tailored to fit the person’s profile.

By analyzing transactions and data files, companies attempt to

increase

revenues by determining trends and finding value, says Gersten. For

instance, every time you use your ATM machine you leave a record,

and banks can monitor when a customer gets salary checks and is likely

to withdraw money. "That would suggest to them that if you only

take money out on Fridays, and then go out and spend, then we can

market to you a line of credit for a quick trip to the Bahamas. That’s

what E-data warehousing and data mining are all about," Gersten

says.

Technology can influence you to spend more of your income through

your bank. For instance, the bank can find out that its customer is

using a wireless device or a web browser. "If a customer checks

his bank balance every Monday morning on a laptop computer, the bank

could send an E-mail at that point and make an offering. It’s a way

of increasing the profitability and the amount of transactions you

can get from your given customers," says Gersten.

Despite the marketing opportunities of E-data

warehousing,

says Gersten, "I personally believe the technology is way ahead

of most organizations’ ability to absorb it right now. It is very

difficult to implement. That’s why they’re going to this conference.

The vendors will be talking about tactics to allow organizations to

take advantage of it."

Some companies, including Charles Schwab, Citigroup, E-bay,

Amazon.com,

AOL, and Time Warner, implement E-data warehousing very effectively,

Gersten says. He credits the enormous size of some businesses or the

lack of internal corporate politics for their success.

"But once it’s done, it’s still of no value until you can sell

more and that requires sales tactics and leadership," he says.

Whether your specialty is technology, management, or human relations,

"we’re all in sales."

While business literature and corporate America suggest that

business-to-consumer

companies, emulating the likes of Amazon.com, can eliminate

salespeople,

brick and mortar retail outlets, and the need to warehouse inventory,

Gersten says that many outlets will survive by reinventing themselves.

But, he cautions, "in the business-to-business environment, with

long-term contracts and partnership arrangements, salespeople will

remain necessary."

"My best skills are empathetic, dealing with people on a

one-to-one

basis," he says. "I still believe in the world of intangible

sales. That’s the only thing they can’t engineer out of the sales

cycle, the salesperson," says Gersten, who sold computers for

IBM after he received an accounting degree from the Wharton School.

He also earned an MBA from the University of Michigan and worked for

Anderson Consulting and Cambridge Technology Partners before moving

to Computer Associates on Long Island. He lives in Caldwell with his

wife and child.

The issue of privacy concerns Gersten. "I think E-data warehousing

will become so ingrained that it’s going to be hard to escape it,"

he says.

"E-data warehousing exposes and limits your privacy and it takes

you a while to regain it," he says. All these freebie magazines,

junk mail, and junk E-mail are the result of efforts, constantly

fine-tuned,

to identify an individual as part of a group that can be targeted

for sales whether you like it or not.

The only reason companies are giving away personal computers is so

you will use their service — which enables them to collect data

about you so they can more efficiently target you with other

offerings.

There’s "no such thing as a free lunch."

"You are losing your ability to hide, you’re exposing yourself

— not unlike the `Big Brother’ television show where people will

allow them to put a camera in their home," Gersten says. "I

would suggest the government is very hesitant to allow the merger

between AOL and Time Warner to go through because of the control it

would give one company."

"One would suggest that in years to come people will pay for

privacy"

to avoid pervasive intrusion into their lives, he says. "I think

the number of people in our socio-economic class who fantasize about

having enough money to move to an island and live their lives is

evidence

of the fear of others encroaching in their lives."

Another speaker at the conference, Mark Uncapher, is an expert on

online privacy. Vice president and counsel of the Information and

Technology Association of America, he specializes in the area of

information

services and electronic commerce for the trade association. A resident

of Bethesda, Maryland, and a graduate of New York University Law

School,

Uncapher is a lobbyist involved in legislative and regulatory issues.

"There’s a heightened sensitivity for online uses of

information,"

Uncapher says. "If you get an E-mail from somebody with an offer,

it may raise your hackles about how did they know that, and yet if

you got a catalog through the mail you wouldn’t think twice. So there

is very much a double standard that exists. Maybe that’s unfair but

it’s a reality."

"A lot of times I’ve noticed that, when companies get themselves

in trouble, it’s because somebody in marketing or in communications

has a neat idea to link this with that, generally with good

intentions,

and what frequently happens is it ends up with the worst possible

spin to what the company or organization really intended."

Uncapher uses the examples of an estranged spouse having access to

information intended for the spouse, or the involvement of minors,

or embarrassing information unintentionally released about the wrong

person.

"In the brick and mortar world the information might have been

available but when it goes online it’s that much faster," he says.

"Companies are sometimes caught scratching their heads saying

`how did we get ourselves in trouble,’ and it’s because of the speed

of the Internet."

The use of E-data warehousing is growing and whether or not there

is government legislation in the future regulating the industry, the

major Internet business-to-consumer companies are beginning to

prohibit

third party sharing. This means corporations must rely on their own

information because they may not be able to buy or share information

with other companies, he says. Limiting opportunities to gain access

to data may present problems for small to medium-size companies but

not to giants like AOL or Citigroup because they have huge amounts

of data about their customers,

Says Uncapher: "As companies develop their own internal privacy

policies, and as those policies turn into practices, from an on-line

perspective it’s going to have an effect on what companies can and

cannot do."

— David Salowitz


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