SaaS proponent RightNow Technologies has teamed up with on-demand provider Demandware to create a mashed-up service that combines CRM with e-commerce and is aimed at B2C organizations.
RightNow said the new service is geared up to provide multi-channel retailers with integration between online and offline businesses, while also improving customer experience across channels. By integrating the two areas, it said businesses can start to think about delivering consistent customer experience at every stage of the customer lifecycle, from awareness and acquisition to conversion and support, based on a single view of the customer and making use of uniform product and support content, pricing and promotions, business processes, and interaction channels.
The mash-up brings together RightNow’s service, marketing, and sales applications with Demandware’s web platform and e-commerce services. RightNow will contribute an in/outbound sales and service desktop, multi-channel customer service, marketing communications, and customer feedback capabilities. Demandware will provide the e-commerce platform, which includes an online storefront, site search, guided navigation, product catalog and promotions, web development environment, user profiles, and online content.
Consumers are driving unprecedented change in our industry, said Jason Mittelstaedt, vice president of marketing at RightNow. Whether they go online or call a company, they expect a consistent personalized customer experience. This joint solution breaks new ground and will give organizations many more ways to proactively engage with consumers, which in turn increases conversion rates and fosters brand loyalty.
Last week RightNow reported third-quarter results which indicated that the worst was over in terms of its sales and business model reorganization, whereby the company shifted away from perpetual licenses to recurring revenue in the form of subscriptions. It reported revenue of $29.2m, compared to $30.1m in the year-ago quarter. The results reflected a 31% growth in recurring revenue year- on-year. The net loss was up to $3.6m, or $0.11 per share, compared to a net loss of $0.5m or $0.02 per share in the third quarter of 2006. Even though the loss was up fivefold or more, both revenue and loss was in line with expectations and fourth-quarter guidance was strong. As a result the share price rose following the release of the results.
The idea of combining customer management capabilities with e-commerce, and cross-channel and on/offline business integration is hardly new (NetSuite has built a nice business on that basis), but that does not make it any less valuable. By making the move, RightNow is heading in a good direction. By making use of component applications, or mash-ups, it can extend its reach and start to address some transactional areas without compromising on its customer service principles.
Although RightNow makes a good case for maintaining its customer service speciality, organizations are still looking to reduce the number of software and services suppliers they deal with, which could cut it out of some potential deals. The mash-up agreement could put it back into play in those situations.
The other interesting aspect of the announcement is the coming together of two enterprise-class SaaS application providers. To date, most SaaS applications have been point solutions provided by specialist providers, operating against the trend for integrated application suites. It is the SaaS model that has ensured growth, almost against the odds. Where SaaS providers have come together to broaden their footprint by creating mash-ups it tends to be around vendor-specific SaaS platforms and ecosystems such as those provided by Salesforce.com or SugarCRM.
What RightNow and Demandware are doing is bringing together SaaS at the application level not the platform level, advocating the idea of simple mash-ups of peer applications that do not require organizations to commit to vendor-specific SaaS platforms. Integrating multi-vendor SaaS applications, and the associated management and orchestration, to support broad-based functionality is the next major challenge for the sector.