Kana Readies for Big Push

Silicon Valley-based eCRM software vendor Kana hopes tighter partnerships with call-center technology specialist Aspect Communications and content-management company Ephox will lead to more sales, particularly in health care. At least one industry analyst points to partnerships as a means of showing strength and stability in a market riddled with struggling companies. This week, Kana and Aspect signed a deal that calls for tailoring an integrated solution to health-care insurance companies. The vendors are eyeing a trend in the industry; heath-care providers are looking to CRM technology to become more customer-focused while driving down costs by migrating customer service interactions to the Web. "As Internet access becomes more prevalent, email and the Web are becoming popular communication channels for people contacting their health care insurance plan providers to check benefits eligibility, investigate the status of insurance claims or request clarification of their bills," stated Guy Morgante, Aspect's senior vice president of customer services. Case in point: Harvard Pilgrim Health Care is rolling out online billing through its member-facing HPHConnect portal. (For more on this, see Cutting the Red Tape.") Kana's iCare suite offers tools to manage in-bound and out-bound email, as well as enable Web self-service. The Aspect Enterprise Contact Server unifies business functions. Perhaps Kelly Spang-Ferguson, senior analyst at market researcher Current Analysis, sums up the synergies of these technologies best: "Kana is focused on eCRM and e-services, while Aspect is good at being the bridge between traditional voice channels and Web channels. It's a good fit." Kanal also announced a partnership with Ephox, makers of content-authoring tools. Ephox EditLive! will be incorporated into certain components of the iCare suite, according to the companies. This will enable customers to create content directly in an enterprise application. It's a significant deal for little-known Ephox, considering Kana claims 1,300 customers worldwide, including Hewlett-Packard, United Airlines, Verizon, E*Trade, General Motors and others. Strengthening partnerships on both the vertical and product fronts isn't surprising in today's market, says Spang-Ferguson. Aside from opening doors to new sales, "These partnerships send the message to customers and potential customers that Kana is going to weather the economic storm," she says. "There's a lot of posturing going on right now in the CRM space -- it's about saving face." Tom Kaneshige also writes for Line56.com
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