InQuira Puts Its Knowledge Solutions in the Cloud

Even large enterprises today are embracing on-demand software to solve their business needs. Now squashing their fears concerns over security and functionality, companies are increasingly turning to software-as-service for its subscription pricing model, rapid time-to-deploy and flexible scalability. In keeping with customer demands, Web self-service and contact center solution provider InQuira has announced on-demand versions of its current on-premise offerings. Chris Hall, InQuira's vice president of marketing, asserts that it's in no way a light-weight version. InQuira OnDemand gives customers more options in terms of deployment and pricing.

"What's important to us is increasing our distribution strategy," Hall says. InQuira has existing partnerships with Oracle CRM On Demand, Oracle's Siebel offering, and Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories. The newest on-demand offering will extend the company's reach, Hall says. "[InQuira] has a really established reputation as the best-of-breed intelligent search vendor that quickly and easily integrates with everyone," says John Ragsdale, vice president of technology research for the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA). "It now has an edge by having a cloud offering."

Ragsdale also holds that the timing of this release is nice, given the uptake he has seen in inquiries about search technology. What Ragsdale now calls the "intelligent search" market includes an interesting list of vendors ranging from knowledge base solution providers, companies doing concept-based searches on an analytics platform (such as InQuira), and enterprise search vendors. "These three formerly separate worlds of search have started to blend together," he maintains.

InQuira, who was named a Leader in CRM's 2010 Service Awards in the category of Contact Center Search, continues to develop new capabilities with search, for instance, allowing search results to include community discussions or conversations in a branded forum. Although this capability was possible with InQuira's on-premise software, the on-demand technology may help in future integrations with social media Web portals, Ragsdale says.

Atul Kumar, vice president of on-demand and managed services at InQuira, says the real boon for customers will be the quick deployment and flexibility of the solution. "We anticipate and see the demand for hybrid requirements," he says. "Especially when mergers are happening fast and furious, it's harder to take the company you acquired and roll out an on-premise system."

InQuira OnDemand will be priced as a subscription like the majority of other SaaS solutions; however, the vendor is taking an interesting approach to its Web self-service and storage fees. Kumar explains that InQuira couldn't price the knowledge solution by number of users -- given how difficult it would be to track anonymous consumers in their quest for knowledge or online support. Ragsdale points out that the page-view model is flawed, especially when a company gets a lot of hits on its site at once, perhaps during the holiday season. To remedy what Ragsdale calls the "black holes in on-demand pricing," InQuira is pricing its solution similar to that of a cell phone service provider. It has put together flat, monthly fee packages in which companies are allowed a daily quota of interactions. If the customer knows it will get more activity in a particular month, it can buy additional bands of usage.

Ragsdale points out that InQuira is taking a unique approach to storage space, as well. "The storage used to be the customer's problem, but now InQuira is footing the bill because it's on demand," he explains. So, the vendor is charging customers for the amount or usage. For instance, the company that has one million knowledge-base articles will pay more than the company with 10,000 articles. "InQuira is really smart in pricing this so there are no gotcha's for the customer," Ragsdale says. "They really are doing customers a favor."

InQuira's on-demand solution puts the company closer in the running with RightNow Technologies. Ragsdale admits, "RightNow had this market all to them selves up until now." However, healthy competition is good. "I'm happy to see buyers will have more choices regardless of deployment model," Ragsdale asserts, "That's a great trend for everyone."

News relevant to the customer relationship management industry is posted several times a day on destinationCRM.com, in addition to the news section Insight that appears every month in the pages of CRM magazine.

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