Richard Snow's Analyst Perspectives

Kana Acquires Ciboodle

Posted by Richard Snow on Jul 24, 2012 10:16:35 AM

This month Kana announced it had acquired contact center provider Ciboodle. This comes a few years after Ciboodle was acquired by Sword, a marriage that apparently didn’t work out because Sword, a predominantly services company, didn’t make the necessary investment in the Ciboodle products to keep them competitive. Kana, looking to expand its portfolio beyond service experience management, spotted that Ciboodle, with its customer experience management portfolio, provided a good, complimentary set of products – so hopefully this ends up as a happy marriage.

Kana has some ambitious plans for the combined product set. Its primary objective is to create a suite of customer service products that supports the delivery of four distinct experiences – agent, web, social and mobile, which in combination Kana is calling next-generation customer service. The agent experience will be delivered through an enhanced version of the Ciboodle desktop and process management products, and will enable agents to deliver better experiences to customers. The web experience will be delivered through enhanced versions of Kana web customer service, email management and knowledge management products, and will enhance customers’ experience using companies’ self-service websites, and allow them to receive better responses to their email. The social experience will use the Kana social and text analytics products to allow organizations to better understand how customers use social media for customer service, and this will be linked to the Ciboodle social community platform that allows companies to interact with customer forums on social media. The mobile experience is the least advanced, but will be built around a new product under development by Ciboodle that will provide mobile customer service on smartphones and tablets. All four will be underpinned by the Kana knowledge management product so that all experiences are supported by common information.

It is fortunate that both sets of products are based on similar Java and SOA technology platforms, as I was told that the new, integrated product set is expected to be ready in nine months – an ambitious task given the number of components in each product set. The company claims the task is doable because there is little overlap between the product sets, so it is mostly a case of integration and modification of the user interface so that it will be common across the new products. The company says the integration will result in common administration and management capabilities, which should ensure that the products are easy to set up, run and use. In the meantime, customers of both companies will continue to use the software they already have in place, with a little cross-selling of existing products. When the new products become available, customers will be offered the opportunity to upgrade, but Kana will go on supporting existing products “for the foreseeable future.” I will be tracking the company’s progress and will keep you updated.

It is perhaps coincidental that following my research into customer relationship maturity I came to the conclusion that both the contact center and customer service are changing at a pace I have not seen in the past. Both are being hit with major new requirements to support mobility and social media, and just about every vendor needs to evaluate how cloud computing will impact their product strategy. I had come up with the concept of next-generation customer service provided through multiple interaction channels, including social media, which supports mobility of customers and internal employees and more than likely is cloud-based. Kana has jumped ahead in this game with its proposed set of new products. It will be interesting to see how they match up to the insights I expect to gain from new benchmark research I am launching into next-generation customer service. If Kana manages to pull off development of these new products, it will have something unique to offer to support companies as they seek to improve their customer service.

Regards,

Richard J. Snow

VP & Research Director

Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Kana, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, 360-degree view of the Customer, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics

Richard Snow

Written by Richard Snow

Richard leads Ventana Research’s Customer and Contact Center Performance Management research practice, which is dedicated to helping organizations improve the efficiency and effectiveness of managing their customers, throughout their lifetime and across all touch points, including the contact center. He conducts research exploring the people, process, information and technology issues behind customer operations management, contact center management, and customer experience management. He also works with senior business operations and IT managers to ensure that companies get the best performance from today’s highly complex application products. Richard has worked in management and consulting leadership positions in the technology industry including with Price Waterhouse, Sema Group and Valors. In his work, he has been involved with all aspects of delivering highly complex IT solutions to a variety of clients in the telecommunications, financial services and public sectors. Richard has specialized in delivering customer care and billing solutions for telecommunications operators, and several multi-channel contact centers for organizations in both the public and private sectors.