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March 21, 1996


By CBR Staff Writer

Broadvision Inc is to offer personalized Web sites based on individual user profiles with its One-to-One on-line marketing database. One-to-One, which has been two years in development, offers a three-tier environment enabling businesses to tailor their World Wide Web sites to individual customers by tracking their preferences as they move around the site. In this way, companies can build up very detailed ‘psychographic’ profiles of their customers, enabling them to target specific advertising and promotions to individuals. The Los Altos, California-based company was founded in 1993 to become an applications provider for Internet commerce. According to Broadvision’s founder, president and chief executive Dr Pehong Chen, companies can build up long-term relationships with customers which will ensure repeat business. This enables you to communicate directly with them rather than shouting at them as a group, he says. Chen admits that interactive, personalized marketing is not new, but says that the Internet is enabling it to be practiced on a very large scale. Broadvision is looking at the complete life-cycle, from attracting customers to the site, encouraging them to buy over the Internet, offering incentives to give their details to the company and finally supporting the actual payment transaction. Chen maintains that most other electronic commerce firms are at present hung up on the actual payment transaction and issues such as security, and not looking at getting people to make the transaction in the first place. Of course, anyone for whom the novelty of personalized direct mail has worn thin may be slightly underwhelmed by the idea of a Web site that welcomes Jane Doe and bombards her with adverts and promotions relevant to her personal interests, likes and dislikes. However, Chen is convinced that by building up a deep understanding of your customer, you will keep them from the competition. One-to-One consists of a set of development tools to enable Web authors to set up customized interactive Web sites, an application engine and Broadvision’s patented Dynamic Command Center.

Aggregator business

The command center enables business managers both to monitor performance, for example how a particular promotion is being received, and to control output, for example, dynamically sending a particular advertisement to a certain demographic group of customers. The system consists of a user interface, a set of business rules and some links to users’ back office systems. It is written in C++ and supports both Oracle and Sybase databases, with access from Corba using Iona Technologies Ltd’s Orbix request broker. Since its beta release took place in December, it has picked up what Chen calls major aggregator business, aggregators being on-line service providers and virtual shopping malls rather than individual firms. It is providing a complete service for Virgin Entertainment Group in the UK, for its Virgin Net on-line service. Other customers include Prodigy Services Co for its virtual mall, Ameritech Corp and Thomson-Sun Interactive Inc in the US, Ing C Olivetti & Co SpA, Itochu Internet Corp, Fujitsu Ltd and NTT Data Communications Systems Inc in Japan and also Hong Kong Telecom Ltd. Pricing for the system is naturally on a dynamic interactive basis, dependent upon the number of customers accessing the site and the number of services a company offers. One-to-One is shipping now, and is available direct from the company, and through its reseller partners.

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