• May 17, 2005
  • By Coreen Bailor, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

ABG Scores Web Self-Service Vendors

Allen Bonde Group (ABG) today unveiled the results of its "2005 ABG Self Service Vendor Scorecard," an evaluation of the top-20 self-service vendors based on performance over the past 12 to 15 months across four categories:
brand, which incorporates market presence/reputation, technology (including search, knowledge management, analytics, and specialized functionality), partners (including SI and OEM partnerships), and delivery, which covers management, growth, clients, and on-demand capabilities.

RightNow Technologies and Knova Software were the only vendors to receive total composite scores of more than 16 on a 20-point scale, designating them as Leaders. RightNow topped all vendors with a total score of 17, including a 4.5 out of 5 for brand, 4 for partnerships, 3.5 for technology, and 5 for delivery--the maximum score and highest delivery mark of all the evaluated vendors. Knova was a close second with 16.5 based on brand, partner, and delivery scores of 4, and a technology earning of 4.5.

Allen Bonde, president of ABG, credits RightNow's score to its strength and performance of the management team, growth rate, customer base size, and on-demand functionality, but notes that as the company continues to grow it may face challenges to meet and surpass its previous growth levels. "They make their numbers, they set expectations properly, and they know how to sell," he says. "[But] as they get larger--as they approach a $100 million company--it's going to be a little bit difficult to grow at the rate that they were as a $30 million company."

In comparison to the research firm's April 2004 self-service scorecard, this year's leader category reshuffled slightly, as last year's leaders included Primus as the top vendor, followed by RightNow and Kanisa. This year ATG, which acquired Primus, lands in the "Top 10 Key Players" grouping at third overall with its total score of 15.5. The company earned a 5 for brand, the best brand of all vendors, 3.5 for partners, 4.5 for technology, but only a 2.5 for delivery. "They have a lousy score on this scorecard on delivery primarily because of the lack of growth, not the smoothest integration in terms of the two companies, and our concerns about a number of senior management people both before that acquisition coming together and after the acquisition," Bonde says. "We think that's a one-time event and the company has pretty much recovered from that" and next year's score should improve.

Rounding out the Top 10 category are: BroadVision, InQuira, and iPhrase, each with 15 points; KANA, 14.5; and Kaidara, Safe Harbor, and Siebel (edocs), each with 14.

The next category, Specialists (self-vendors), includes: LivePerson, SupportSoft, and Talisma, each with 13.5; eGain, Netonomy, and RightAnswers, each with 12.5; EasyAsk, 12; Conversagent and Jive Software,11; and noHold,10.

"You can either be a full-blown platform provider or you can be a specialty vendor, and just because you have a score that's lower than the platform vendors doesn't mean that you can't be very successful," Bonde says.

The scorecard also calculates momentum scores, a measure of a vendor's performance relative to its reputation and an indicator of emerging players. Safe Harbor received the top-momentum ranking among the Top 10 players, while RightAnswers earned that distinction among the Specialists. Also calculated were attractors ratings, computed by dividing the technology score by the partners score. Kaidara has the top attractor rating of the Top 10, while Jive Software and noHold are the top attractors among Specialists.

But according to Bonde, the element of the scorecard that was somewhat surprising was the large number of vendors in contention, despite the trend toward consolidation. "We're seeing some consolidation, but still this is pretty much a wide-open market, and I'm anticipating that there is still going to be some additional consolidation."

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