Siebel's New Challenger

If Siebel is looking around for the nearest competition, it may be surprised to see who's there. According to a new report released by Gartner Research, RightNow Technologies is at the forefront to challenge Siebel in the e-service market.

Based on the Gartner eService Suite Magic Quadrant, a methodology that measures both a company's completeness of vision and its ability to execute that vision, Siebel remains the lone leader in the this arena, while RightNow has emerged as the lone challenger. Gartner defines challengers as vendors that are performing well today but have a less-defined view of the market and will not necessarily be as aggressive in the future.

Other companies were split into one of two remaining categories. Those ranked as visionaries included eGain, Kana, and Broad Daylight, while companies like Oracle, SAP, Avaya, and PeopleSoft were labeled as niche players.

With more than 1,000 customers worldwide, RightNow is a leading supplier of hosted customer service and support solutions. Even so, it might be surprising to some that RightNow ranked as a lone challenger above such hefty competition. The reason? According to Gartner Senior Researcher Esteban Kolsky, who authored the report, for the year 2002 RightNow was the company that "figured out how to make money" in a bad market.

"RightNow being labeled as a challenger to Siebel in the eService Suite market means that they know how to get the market under control and make money right now," says Kolsky, "But it doesn't mean their vision on how to move forward is exciting." Although RightNow displayed the ability to execute during 2002, it needs to focus on improving its long-term plans to have real impact, Kolsky says.

Kolsky also went on to clarify that just because RightNow is labeled as a challenger to Siebel, it doesn't indicate that Siebel's position in the market is in jeopardy. "Being a leader is a fine balance between looking into the future and making things work in the market today," Kolsky says.

The Magic Quadrant report examined data from the calendar year 2002, during which time the market's estimated value of $250 million saw a decline in revenues, customer acquisition, and budgets. The study has a baseline of criteria for companies to be considered in the study, including a minimum of five references of live implementations of its e-service suite and having native support for Web self-service, email, and chat.

In a statement released by RightNow, CEO and founder Greg Gianforte expressed his optimism about expanding his company's leadership role in the customer service and support market: "As a principal vendor in the customer service and support market, we look forward to further extending our leadership position and bringing the benefits of customer service to an even wider audience."

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