Two separate recent announcements of Verint acquiring KANA and Microsoft acquiring Parature inspired me to put my fingers on the keyboard for a topic that is top of mind when speaking with customer service organizations in large enterprises as of late. Customer service professionals today are overwhelmed with the pace of change. Their customers are engaging them over more channels and on more devices. They are facing a barrage of new regulations and being bombarded by competitive offerings, forcing them to accelerate the time to market of their latest product and services with no decrease in service quality. They must continually squeeze efficiencies out of their organizations while simultaneously improving customer experience.
These acquisitions beg the question: does the purchase of one CRM technology company by another actually help service organizations in their journey to more effective and profitable customer service? The simple answer is no. Sure, it gives the merged company new opportunities to cross sell the newly acquired product into their existing customer base. But unless those products are unified into a single platform, then all it means to service organizations are fewer buying options, and a cloudier roadmap.
These service organizations are still buying, and still must implement loosely connected applications that have disparate configuration environments, different third-party software requirements and multiple code bases. While it’s nice that there is one name on the mailbox, service organizations do not see any reduction in complexities and challenges. Even worse, these acquisitions typically grind innovation to a halt. Senior leaders, product managers and engineers inside of the newly merged organization must focus their efforts on integration and rationalization, instead of the customer. The product innovations that let service organizations differentiate get pushed to the back burner.
I am consistently hearing from leading customer service organizations that they need to become more agile and simplify how they engage with their customers across channels. They are laser-focused on increasing employee productivity while simultaneously reducing customer effort. They are tired of spending their precious time and money stitching together rigid applications that should “just work together”. They can no longer afford to pay the “integration middleman” who takes his tariff in the form of lengthy times to deploy, increased costs to maintain and many missed opportunities.
The leaders of service organizations want to capture their business goals, best practice procedures and policies directly into a working application, one that engages their customers and customer service representatives in an intuitive manner. As they get feedback from their employees, customers and the systems themselves, they need to rapidly and continuously adapt. As regulations change and new products come to market, they need to support those new requirements without missing a beat. They cannot do this if it requires new customizations or changes in multiple acquired applications.
While I do not have insight into the specific roadmap for the KANA or Parature applications, I can say this: if Microsoft and Verint fail to unify these newly acquired solutions within a single platform, then I am afraid service organizations will see little benefit.The only true difference they might see is saving a stamp when mailing their annual maintenance payments to a single address.