Microsoft is eyeing a move into data mining and customer relationship management.
"Microsoft is building a CRM consultancy service, in cooperation with companies like Siebel," Wolfgang Martin, an analyst at the Meta Group research firm, told PC Week. "CRM is the killer application for data mining."
Microsoft confirmed to PC Week that it is gearing up internally to target the knowledge management market, which it defines as "collaboration, CRM and data warehousing". The initiative will kick off next year in the UK.
"Knowledge management is enabling the knowledge worker by providing the information they need, when they want it, where they want it," said Andrew Pickup, product marketing manager at Microsoft, who will head up the initiative in the UK.
Meta's Martin said he expects Microsoft to try to add data mining capabilities to its SQL server database and seek buying one of the proliferation of data-mining software vendors.
However, Martin does not expect Microsoft's moves to have any impact on the market before the end of next year, when the company will go head to head with old adversaries IBM and Oracle in the target markets.
IBM has been building its product portfolio in the CRM space with the DecisionEdge range, which includes the data-mining tool Intelligent Miner.
Martin expects IBM to announce knowledge management products in the second half of this year. These are likely to include text mining, allowing analysis of information not held in a traditional structured format (such as a relational database).
Oracle has bought its way into the CRM and data-minig market, but so far has no product in the knowledge management space, Martin said.
- Data mining is generally defined as the process of extracting specific information from a database or data warehouse (a collection of interlinked databases) for analysis of customer profiles.
CRM tools are used both for collecting that information and for redistributing that information throughout the company.
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