Integrated Kana Set To Offer Full E-CRM Suite

Merger with Broadbase adds business analytics and marketing automation capabilities
Kana Communications Inc. will complete its $75.8 million acquisition of Broadbase Software Inc. this week. The resulting company will comprise 12 vendors merged since 1999.

The new Kana, with more than 1,200 business customers and 850 employees, plans to integrate Broadbase's business analytics, marketing automation, and self-service knowledge-management products with the old Kana's Java 2 Enterprise Edition-based contact-center software and inbound/outbound E-mail applications.

In September, the company plans to launch Kana E-Marketing, which will integrate the Broadbase E-marketing Suite with Kana Connect, letting businesses combine analytics with E-mail direct marketing. A second product, Kana Service, will marry Broadbase E-Service with Kana Response, so businesses can build and manage E-mail and Internet self-help sites for contact centers.

Chris Schmidt, director of business development at help-desk outsourcer National TechTeam Inc. in Southfield, Mich., was apprehensive about the merger. National TechTeam, a Broadbase customer, is dependent on the E-Service suite to maintain high levels of automated and agent-based customer service. "Anytime you have a merger where there's overlap with applications, there's trepidation," he says.

With Kana Response, Schmidt found he could move quickly toward a Web-based service, rather than using E-mail customer service that Broadbase's E-mail tools provided. But Kana's integration timetable is important. "How long until the products run is of concern to us, but they have aggressive deadlines," Schmidt says.

For short-term point product integration, the September deadline is realistic, says David Daniels, an analyst with Jupiter Media Metrix. But a fully integrated company is at least two years away, he adds.

The integrated Kana will compete with vendors such as eGain, RightNow, and Siebel Systems. Kana will most likely succeed if it targets companies looking to start small in their CRM strategies, with room to expand down the line, says Bob Chatham, a Forrester Research analyst. There are always companies looking for E-mail management capabilities, he says, that feel a heavyweight like Siebel is too big.