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Customer analytics firms merge to take on Salesforce, Adobe

Manthan Systems and RichRelevance, vendors specializing in customer analytics, recently merged to bring together AI-fueled insights with expertise in global retail.

Two small customer analytics vendors merged on Jan. 19 to form Algonomy, an alternative to CRM giants Salesforce and Adobe that offers a customer data platform built on augmented intelligence and machine learning to provide insights in real time.

Manthan Systems, founded in 2004 and based in Bengaluru, India, specialized in predictive analytics and business intelligence software designed for retail enterprises, while RichRelevance, founded in 2006 and based in San Francisco, specialized in customer experience personalization.

Algonomy is based in San Francisco with operations in Bengaluru and has about 600 employees.

By combining the customer and data analytics platform offered by Manthan -- including more than 300 algorithms built on augmented intelligence and machine learning -- with RichRelevance's expertise in global retail, Algonomy offers a customer data platform to both enable retail enterprises to offer personalized customer experiences and make decisions in real time.

Manthan and RichRelevance first started exploring plans to merge in late 2018 and closed on their intent to merge in September 2019. The combination benefits both companies given the complementary capabilities, according to Brandon Purcell, principal analyst at Forrester Research.

"This looks like a big win," he said. "They both have a very long history and steady focus on data and data analytics to drive a better, more personalized retail experience. Both, throughout their history, have been laser focused on the retail industry, and I think that is a key benefit and differentiator for them."

This looks like a big win. They both have a very long history and steady focus on data and data analytics to drive a better, more personalized retail experience.
Brandon PurcellPrincipal analyst, Forrester Research

Under the terms of the merger agreement, Atul Jalan, previously Manthan's CEO, is the CEO of Algonomy and Sarath Jarugula, who previously served as the CEO of RichRelevance, is Algonomy's chief product officer.

"The two key concepts we're betting our entire farm on are being algorithmic-first to solve retail problems and coming at it from a digital-first perspective as a way to think about the problem, think about the space and think about solving customer engagement challenges," Jarugula said.

Manthan and RichRelevance have about 400 customers between them, including retailers, consumer brands, restaurant chains and convenience stores. Among them are Burberry, eBay, KFC, Honeywell and Tiffany & Co.

And while not nearly the size of customer relationship management (CRM) giants like Salesforce and Adobe, with its 600 employees, Algonomy hopes to be viewed as an alternative.

"From a competitive perspective, we become a credible alternative," said Raj Badarinath, Algonomy's chief marketing officer. "This merger gives us breadth, and with a larger team it gives us the credibility to fulfill some of the larger enterprise clients and become the third platform of choice."

An Algonomy dashboard.
An Algonomy dashboard displays an organization's sales data.

The Algonomy platform

The Algonomy suite -- which is simply named Algonomy and has already integrated the tools from Manthan and RichRelevance to form a single platform -- uses AI-driven analytics in concert with customer personalization capabilities to enable clients to take four key actions: Activate, engage, align and convert.

Activate refers to the Algonomy's ability to help clients centralize all of their customer data in the cloud using prebuilt connectors to create a single customer record.

Engage is about enabling marketers to interact with customers in real time to provide them with contextually relevant campaigns, spur sales and increase customer loyalty.

Align refers to merchandise analytics and supply chain efficiencies to help clients match supply with demand, automate certain merchandise processes and provide prescriptive recommendations to determine prices and inventories.

Finally, convert refers to the attempt to turn every interaction -- web, mobile, call center, kiosk or point-of-sale -- into a personalized experience using Algonomy's algorithmically-based Xen AI Experience Optimizer.

Among the products and services that make up the Algonomy suite are real-time customer profiling, personalized recommendations and merchandise analytics.

Algonomy, meanwhile, offers subscription-based SaaS licenses with the actual cost dependent on such factors as the number of active users and frequency of use. According to the vendor, most customers opt for multi-year licenses.

"[Algonomy] enables a one-stop shop for personalized digital engagement for retailers," Purcell said. "As we saw in the last year, due to COVID, everything is going increasingly digital, and retailers need a place to get their algorithmic needs met in terms of analyzing this very large source of data."

That analysis, he continued, examines the digital behavior of customers on an individual basis and uses the results to personalize engagement with those customers.

Now that the merger and their product integration is complete, Algonomy plans to build out its platform. Users can expect to see three or four new capabilities roll out early this year to enable customers to take quick action based on insights.

"We're doubling down on the concept of analytics being actionable, and the area of actionable. That's where you'll see Algonomy make a lot of strikes going forward," Badarinath said.

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