KANA Software Goes After "Transformational" Enterprise Deployments

KANA Software has been "hard at work on R&D" over the last nine months, according to Chief Marketing Officer James Norwood, and its efforts have culminated today in the launch of KANA Enterprise, a comprehensive customer service suite aimed at large enterprise.

As a cohesive whole, KANA Enterprise can connect all aspects of a company's customer support efforts both on the agent and self-service side, the company claims. Users have access to all avenues of support, such as dynamic case management, Web self-service, cobrowsing, social media and community listening and response capabilities, email, and chat. The goal, which is supported by the knowledge and BPM component, is to make customer support something that carries—in context—across any channel.

Since 2011, KANA has remained steady on the acquisitions front, picking up social media listening platform Overtone, Web customer service software company Trinicom, and contact center solutions company Sword Ciboodle.

Although the introduction of KANA Enterprise does signify a convergence of its various point solutions, "this is not a stitching or a bulking together of old assets," Norwood emphasizes. "We have covered every single feature and modular requirement of an end-to-end customer service journey, and we've joined them up into one single platform" under a single line of code.

Already, KANA has about half a dozen companies that have signed contracts for the enterprise suite; although some were existing customers that had used individual channel or point solutions from KANA in the past, many are brand-new users of KANA solutions, Norwood says.

A key customer service challenge KANA looked to address with its enterprise suite was that of disjointed connections. In conversations with customers and prospective customers, KANA routinely encountered an expressed need for deeper business process-based workflows, such as knowledge integrated into chat or social media integrated with email. Customers are inherently looking for ways to remove the gaps between their "customer service persona" and their respective customers, he says.

KANA Enterprise is entirely built on a business process management subsystem that became a part of its product offering following the Ciboodle acquisition; users of KANA Enterprise can build knowledge workflows using the same BPM workflow tool they use to create case workflows.

KANA Enterprise is available in SaaS pricing, as well but the company has found that, by and large, larger multinational brands are either opting to go with deployments on-premises or with hosted or single-tenant architecture.

KANA Express, a customer service application that launched in the U.S. late last summer to serve midmarket companies, has averaged about 10 to 15 new customers per quarter for KANA, Norwood notes. Because a majority of those deployments are SaaS transactions, Norwood calls that portion of the business "a growing annuity for us."

Express customers have more of a transactional need, and are typically moving from having no service or minimal service to providing basic levels of service. With enterprise, "this is transformational for them," Norwood adds. "They've [bought in to] the social, mobile, agent, and Web experience…it's not something they expect to deploy in a week."

Kate Leggett, principal analyst at Forrester Research, calls the enterprise product a "great step forward" in melding the BPM assets afforded by Ciboodle with the multichannel, knowledge-based capabilities of KANA. "It definitely ties their acquisitions together, and delivers a good end-to-end product vision," she comments to CRM. "The proof now will be in the number of sales and successful implementations" KANA can acquire.

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