Kana Buys Overtone; Sign Of Bigger Trends

Kana announced that it has acquired Overtone, a key social media and text analytics firm. While this acquisition seems like a good move for Kana (I’ll have more thoughts when I get a full briefing next week), it’s more significant as a sign of bigger trends.

My take: This acquisition is best understood in conjunction with a couple of other acquisitions by software companies that support customer-facing processes and channels:

Last year I published a report called the Eight Customer Experience Megatrends which provided my forecast about how these eight megatrends will play out in 2011:

The HiveLive/Radian6/Overtone moves are clear signs of two of these megatrends:

  • Unstructured data appreciation. All of the acquired vendors provide some amount of text analytics capabilities. The acquisitions link these capabilities with a lot of enterprise data — helping to push the envelope on where and how companies will extract insights from unstructured data such as sales notes, emails, and call recordings.
  • Social media assimilation. In the long run, it makes no sense for social media to be treated as its own channel (see my post: How Much Does Social Media Matter?). The acquiring vendors will help their clients link social media with other customer-facing processes and channels.

What’s next? I expect to see acquisitions by big vendors like Oracle, SAP, IBM, and Microsoft. A few interesting targets: Clarabridge, Attensity, and Nexidia.

The bottom line: Customer experience management remains an evolving field

It’s Time For Text Analytics

After my previous post about Goofy, I feel the need to get a bit more serious about text analytics. This is a capability that ALL large organizations will need to deploy within the next couple of years.

At the Clarabridge event this week, I got to spend time with many executives from large companies that were thrilled with the results from their text analytics efforts. While most companies were still in relatively early stages of their deployments, the ROI of their efforts were already compelling. The business results for using text analytics came from areas like:

  • Reducing warranty costs by spotting quality issues much faster
  • Identifying underperforming franchisees that need training
  • Cutting operational costs of manually categorizing customer comments
  • Quickly identifying the impact and severity of service issues
  • Understanding “why” metrics like NPS are going up or down

I was also able to see Clarabridge’s new product release which improves on the product’s linguistics, usability, and reporting (including a cool integration of Google’s motion chart gadget). But I don’t want this to sound like a Clarabridge advertisement. There are other vendors like Attensity and Overtone that also provide excellent text analytics offerings.

These vendors are making it easier than ever to extract huge value from previously ignored unstructured text. That’s why my #1 trend in Voice Of The Customer (VoC) programs is “Tapping into unstructured and unsolicited feedback” which I show like this:

vocdomain_vsmall1

Businesses are full of unstructured text like customer comments on surveys, notes and verbatims from contact center conversations, inbound emails, online chats, social media sites, customer feedback comments, etc. This information represents immense untapped value that I expect companies to start unlocking.

The bottom line: What’s your plan for text analytics?

%d bloggers like this: