Talisma Broadens Its Reach in the Contact Center Market

It's been a busy time in the CRM industry, especially so for Talisma, which has been abuzz with a company acquisition, a new customer win, and new features added to its flagship suite of CRM software. The biggest news, according to Jim O'Farrell, vice president of corporate marketing and channels management, is the acquisition of eAssist, a privately held maker of customer service and marketing software. The deal closed on September 9. Although financial terms were not disclosed, O'Farrell tells CRM magazine that the combination effectively doubles Talisma's customer base, and the combined firm is on track to book more than $18 million in revenue this year, and more than $25 million in 2005. (O'Farrell declines to break out the revenues each company is bringing to the table.) O'Farrell says eAssist's most compelling attributes were a customer list that had no overlap with Talisma's, and an expanded integration capability with several databases, addressing what he calls "the broadening requirements" of quality monitoring and other customer service solutions. "Our [current] customer interaction management platform is based on the SQL server environment in the back end," he says. "Now we can broaden that to include Oracle, Sybase, and other back-end databases." According to O'Farrell, Talisma had been developing many of these features already, but the acquisition advances the company's existing agenda beyond what a simple partnership or cross-marketing agreement might have offered. "What we saw was the ability to converge the product offerings," he says. "We needed to complete and build out [these functions]. We had them on our road map, but this accelerates our road map by at least a year in terms of bringing these functionalities to market." Talisma will continue to sell the two product lines separately for now, O'Farrell says, and adds that he expects to see a fully converged product release in the first quarter of 2006. Martin Schneider, enterprise software analyst at The 451 Group, says the eAssist acquisition is "a well-thought-out move," helping to position Talisma as a stronger competitor against other vendors specializing in customer service, such as KANA and Kanisa. "All of those vendors are pushing a three-vendor approach to the contact center," he says. According to Schneider, Talisma recognizes that it will never be able to go up against full-suite CRM vendors like Siebel Systems or sales-oriented vendors like Salesforce.com. Instead, Talisma can win some business by helping to turn contact centers into profit centers. "This opens up some opportunities for them," he says. Meanwhile, Talisma continues to update its existing platform. The main additions in the "6.0 plus" edition of Talisma's suite of CRM software are a knowledge base and a portal feature that had not previously been available directly from the company. O'Farrell says the new features will not be sold separately, but instead build on the company's commitment to "fully integrating the email response environment and the chat environment" into companies' self-service options. The new edition will be positioned for new customers and "for those that don't have a [knowledge-base] solution," O'Farrell says. The company also announced that Seattle-based film-processing firm PhotoWorks had selected Talisma as its customer-communication vendor, a decision that O'Farrell says was significantly influenced by the availability of the new knowledge-base feature and Talisma's existing marketing-campaign solution. According to O'Farrell, that feature, known as Talisma Marketing, will eventually be merged with eAssist's Velocity product. Related articles:
The Week in Review: May 28, 2004 Talisma launches both Talisma QuickStart and version 6.0 of the Talisma Customer Interaction Suite. New Product Spotlight: May 21, 2003 Talisma announces strategic partnership with Primus Knowledge Solutions to integrate the Primus eServer knowledge base.
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