KANA Software and Ciboodle Join Forces for Customer Experience Perfection

The multi-channel customer experience management software market represents an attractive US$5 billion-plus market opportunity, which IDC recently forecast to grow at between 5 to 12 percent through 2015 (a 6 percent compound annual growth rate [CAGR]) within the larger overall customer relationship management (CRM) space. To that end, in July 2012, KANA Software, a longstanding customer service software provider, which has lately been on an impressive comeback and acquisition trail, announced that it has acquired the upbeat and innovative contact center customer service company Ciboodle from the Sword Group.

The official press release cites that this move creates a more powerful independent provider for multi-channel customer service solutions across agent, web, social, and mobile experiences. The acquisition is further evidence of consolidation in this attractive sector, as marked by Oracle’s acquisitions of RightNow, InQuira, and several smaller social computing companies, and salesforce.com’s acquisitions of inStranet, Radian 6, and other smaller companies. Microsoft's recent acquisition of Yammer might also have some relevance to this CRM segment.


With employees and office locations across North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific, the combined new KANA Software organization will support a growing base of customers numbering some 900 organizations, which includes many of the world’s best known customer-centric Fortune 500 companies and leading government entities such as American Airlines, Best Buy, Virgin Media, and Xerox in the private sector. In the public sector, notable customers are the County of Los Angeles, the City of Minneapolis, and the City and County of San Francisco.

In addition to the mere size and scale that the merger brings via a customer base acquisition, if you look closely you can see why bringing KANA and Ciboodle together makes sense. Namely, in addition to similar Java-based technical environments, the merging companies share a focus on Customer Service enterprise software solutions, where KANA solutions help transform complex business requirements into effective Web-based customer experiences. KANA also serves the midmarket as well, characterized by end-to-end and rapid-to-implement cloud-based solutions as well as via the recent Trinicom acquisition. While the merging parties have competed in the past and have a number of overlapping functional modules, they have approached customer service from the following two different positions of strength:

  1. Ciboodle has built a reputation providing Contact Center, Agent Desktop, Business Process Management (BPM), Dynamic Case Management solutions, and more recently Social Communities. Its competitors would often be case management and BPM-oriented companies, such as Pegasystems and Microsoft Dynamics CRM (and its partner add-on solutions). For more information, see the TEC article Sword Ciboodle—One More BPM-Centric CRM Provider.

  2. For its part, KANA has built a reputation providing E-mail Response Management, Knowledge Management (KM), Web Self-Service and Chat (often referred to as Web customer service [WCS]), and more recently Social Listening. Its competitors would more often be KM-oriented CRM providers such as Oracle/InQuira, salesforce.com, eGain, and Consona CRM/Knova.

Now What?

Importantly, by combining Ciboodle with KANA, not only does Ciboodle gain greater scale in terms of global presence, skilled resources, and expanded offerings, but also the acquisition seems important for KANA, which hopes to accelerate both companies’ product roadmaps by 12-18 months. This acceleration should allow a heightened focus on strategic initiatives such as cloud computing, mobile solutions, and big data analytics (although one should watch how Ciboodle’s partnership with SAS will now be affected or not). The merger also rounds out KANA’s Social CRM footprint as planned, although I concur with Esteban Kolski’s assertion in his related blog post that Moxie Software was a stronger acquisition suspect in this particular regard.

KANA pledges to continue to be committed its strategy of protecting its customers’ investment in KANA products (which Kate Leggett of Forrester deems encouraging to many customers of KANA’s mature legacy products). With beneficial market overlap and complementary industry and product strategies, the vendor pledges to continue to enhance the Ciboodle product line with new features and functionality, especially in the formerly lacking areas of web-based customer service, KM, and social listening. KANA will also provide a clear path to next-generation capabilities customers in both the public and private sector will likely require as their customer experience strategies evolve.

As new KANA leverages the additional resources and infrastructure of the combined organization, it expects to provide enhanced product and service offerings that will allow its customers to gain increased value from their solution investment. Dear readers, how excited or not about this combination and the expanded value it might bring to its customers, partners, and employees are you?
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