KANA Enterprise Release Biggest in Company’s History
Less than a year ago Kana acquired Sword-Ciboodle. Following the acquisition the company announced that the complimentary products would deliver a richer solution and that the acquisition would shave 12 to 18 months off the combined product roadmaps. It all sounded good, but these types of claims are made with most acquisitions and you never really know the distance between marketing claims and product releases until some time passes.
Today Kana made good on its promise. It released KANA Enterprise in what it refers to as the industry’s first end-to-end omni-channel customer service suite, a solution which the company positions as a direct response to what it calls the “everyone serves” new customer experience imperative.
What were previously separate home grown and acquired CRM software solutions have now morphed into a single platform. This is a new code set as opposed to the stitching together of acquired products. Leveraging a single technology stack helps customers better understand the longer-term implications for their technology investment and should help KANA continue its innovation pace.
With the new release, KANA continues to demonstrate customer service advancements over agent, web, social and mobile channels. But what really got my attention in this release is the stepped up application contextual analysis. I’ve long argued that agents don’t need the oft touted 360 degree customer view but something more akin to a 36 degree customer view that exposes the most relevant content for the task at hand with links or drill-down to everything else.
KANA Enterprise uses an algorithm to deliver the most relevant information and contextual analysis based on customer and interaction. This is particularly effective in helping agents understand customer personas, preferences, propensity to buy and other factors which can contribute to a more successful customer experience. The application uses customer information, chronological history and other data to dynamically render screens which may offer a script, suggest the next best offer or effectively infuse the most relevant knowledge as processes unfold. This is a powerful tool that responds to the overarching Customer Experience objective of delivering the right content or knowledge to the person or customer interaction where it can be applied in real-time to produce a consistent and rewarding customer experience.
Whether it’s a scope limitation or a product specialization, KANA is 100 percent focused on customer service. But Customer Experience is an enterprise-wide strategy and fulfillment requires a very broad application suite that goes well beyond customer support. To this end, KANA uses packaged adapters to link with some other applications and an API to share data from across disparate systems. It’s a viable approach to support end-to-end processes, but is certain to be argued against by the much broader application suites from larger competitors.
What KANA does have in common with some of its larger competitors is the need to evangelize how its technology can directly support Customer Experience strategy. Kana understands the CEO’s CX imperative. But while many CEOs and business leaders recognize the business need for CX, they struggle to make this customer management strategy actionable. CX has awareness, but lacks execution know-how and is often most challenged by cultural resistance. CX as an enabling technology is far from a mature market and vendors are therefore providing education and acting as the change agents needed to confront cultural change.
KANA’s message of “Everyone Serves” is a simple communication that reinforces CX is an enterprise-wide mandate. The company also highlights three customer service characteristics that collectively contribute to CX success.
Consistent — delivering the same quality of experience and outcome on all channels
Complete — achieving a seamless transition, no matter when, where or how you engage
Contextual — focusing on just the processes and information needed, when needed
With its messaging and its technology, KANA aspires to deliver enterprise customer centricity where agent and customer effort is reduced and deep insights into the customer journey are leveraged, which in turn reduces the cost to serve and enhances the customer experience.
More efficient customer service itself is a long heralded goal which has taken on increased interest and folds nicely into the more strategic ambition of Customer Experience. CX efforts are long-term projects delivered incrementally, and customer service is a logical starting point to get the maximum impact in the shortest period.
At the time of the 2012 Sword-Ciboodle acquisition, the Sword application was strong in case management, online communities and BPM (business process management), while KANA was strong in social listening, chat, email response, web self-service and knowledge management. The vision was to take the best of both and create a superset product.
I had a chance to debrief with James Norwood, KANA CMO, at the time of the Sword-Ciboodle acquisition, and again now with the company’s announcement. The new KANA (since late 2009) is a young company and as such doesn’t have a long track record to draw from. But with this KANA Enterprise release, it’s clearly showing that it has both the intent and capability to deliver on its vision and its promises.
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What really got my attention in this release is the stepped up contextual analysis. I’ve long argued that agents don’t need the oft touted 360 degree customer view but something more akin to a 36 degree customer view that exposes the most relevant content for the task at hand with links or drill-down to everything else.