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James Ray has joined Exchange Applications as Vice President, Strategic Consulting Services.

Ray was formerly Vice President, Corporate Systems and Strategy Development for office-supply giant Staples, where he led the technology development and implementation to support the company's highly successful e-commerce sites. 

The new recruit will help Exchange Applications' clients bridge online and offline customer communications strategies. Reporting to Chief Operating Officer David McFarlane, Ray's initial project will be assisting one of the largest financial institutions in the U.S. with its implementation of an innovative emarketing solution.

McFarlane explained that with its recent acquisition of emarketing vendor GBI, Exchange Applications sees an opportunity to help businesses make ecommerce more efficient and profitable by driving customer content to the Web.

According to McFarlane, accurate targeting and permission-based marketing are essential techniques for businesses that want to deliver relevant, personalised communications based on a customer's history. 

"Not enough companies are doing that today," said McFarlane. "We see a vast opportunity in helping businesses finesse their emarketing and ecommerce efforts toward more customer focus, greater relevance and ultimately higher revenues. 

James' experience in implementing real-world solutions, at Staples and previously as a management consultant to many well-known retailers, will make that process considerably easier for Exchange Applications' customers."

Ray has more than 22 years' information systems planning, development and management experience. While at Staples, he was responsible for the architectural design and creation of a sophisticated customer loyalty program and related direct marketing systems, including Exchange Applications' VALEX(tm) software. His staff also designed and implemented innovative solutions for business-to-business and business-to-consumer ecommerce. 

Prior to joining Staples, Ray was vice president and CIO for the North American Air Miles program. He also spent several years as vice president of Systems Development for the Eckerd Drug Store retail chain. Additionally Ray has been a partner in McCready Manigold Ray & Co., a management-consulting firm specialised in information management and advanced technology in the retail and consumer direct marketing field.

"Cross-channel Customer Relationship Management offers tremendous benefits to businesses, ones that I have seen first-hand on the client side," said Ray. "The next generation of these solutions will be tightly integrated with, and have a significant impact on, ecommerce. As an experienced cross-channel, customer communications solutions provider, Exchange Applications is in a prime position to capitalise on this opportunity, and I'm pleased to play a part in that growth."

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