January 7, 2014
Today's news of Verint's intent to acquire KANA ushers a new wave of consolidation in the greater customer service space. Today’s customer service technology ecosystem is complex and comprised of a great number of vendors that provide overlapping and competing capabilities. I’ve previously blogged about what these critical software components are. In a nutshell, the core capabilities needed for customer service include:
- Routing and queuing: providing the ability to route and queue an inquiry – whether voice, digital (ex. email, chat), or social to an agent or a group of agents
- Agent desktop/case management: Allowing cases to be created, workflowed, and resolved.
- Workforce management and optimization: Allowing agent interactions with customers to be monitored for quality; allowing agent scheduling, forecasting, performance management, coaching, learning etc.
Today, there are vendors which specialize in each of these core capabilities, but no vendor has a significant presence in all three of these areas. As a result, contact centers are comprised of a set of point solutions. Companies strive for a simpler technology ecosystem to manage from both a systems perspective and a contractual perspective. And at first blush, this is what the Verint-KANA acquisition does.
KANA provides robust process-driven case management, multichannel capabilities, knowledge management capabilities and well as robust routing and queuing of digital and social inquiries. Verint provides a full suite of workforce management and optimization capabilities, VoC, speech and desktop analytics.They also have solutions for fraud prevention and identity authentication.
The end-to-end Verint-KANA portfolio is a comprehensive solution set which can interface into telephony infrastructures to allow the routing and queueing of voice, (and if desired digital and social) interactions to cover all three major functional areas outlined above. In addition, the only product overlap is in the voice of the customer arena – a small overlap which can be easily rationalized.
The acquisition provides greater gains than just complementary product lines, and a venue for both companies to expand their current footprints by cross-and upselling into their respective installed base. The acquisition provides a vision for deeply personalized customer service interactions which are delivered with maximum efficiency for a contact center.
What this means, is that customer and customer service agent actions can be monitored, and analyzed with a combination of Verint’s workforce optimization and analytics capabilities. This allows agent process flows to be tuned for efficacy and positive outcomes. In addition, speech and text analytics can be used to mine case information to uncover and proactively address emerging trends in service issues. Analytics can also trace customer journeys across disparate touchpoints and communication channels, and uncovered insights can be used to optimize customer journeys, match customers to the right agents, deeply personalize service, thereby increasing customer satisfaction and long-term loyalty. All in all, the combined solution can support a myriad of scenarios to deliver optimized service experiences.
As with every acquisition, there are questions and concerns that remain unaddressed at this time:
- KANA acquired Ciboodle, a process-focused customer service solution in 2012. Since then, it has been working hard to integrate Ciboodle's BPM engine with KANA's knowledge management and multichannel capabilities in a product called KANA Enterprise. This solution is fairly new, and is starting to have some market traction. This acquision will most likely slow the maturation of this solution.
- The short-term product strategy and roadmap has not been defined. Although, this will be worked out, questions remain about the roadmap for KANA Express – a SMB customer service solution which is not a natural fit for Verint’s solutions, and Lagan Enterprise – the government solution which has seen healthy growth in the last year.
- There is a large installed customer base on KANA's legacy multichannel products which have not been migrated over to KANA Enterprise or KANA Express. Questions exist how these customers will be supported in the long-term.
- To continue on this point, KANA will be kept as a separate business unit in the short term. Verint is a mature company, with a long history of successful acquisitions. Key acquisitions include Blue Pumpkin (2004), Witness Systems (2007), Vovici (2011), Victrio (2013). KANA’s organization will be quickly folded into Verint, yet all acquisitions elicit short-term strain, with the eventual loss of key personnel.
- The majority of Verint's customers already have a CRM or case management solution in place. Conversely, many of KANA's customers have a workforce management solution in place. Cross selling solutions into each other's installed base remains questionable.
This acquisition heralds a greater wave of consolidation in the marketplace. Up to now, customer service vendors were purchasing point solutions to fill in gaps in their offering (example Oracle buying InQuira for knowledge management, Salesforce buying ActivaLive for chat). Workforce management vendors have also gone through their wave of consolidation to round out their end-to-end capabilities. Both software categories are mature. Vendors now will be looking for partnerships and acquisitions outside of their core focus areas to expand their footprint and drive increased revenue.