Self-service scored in recent ranking

A new ranking system attempts to sort out the leaders in the self-service market.

Between search technology, e-billing, knowledge management and a myriad of other functionalities, the self-service technology market can be confusing.

Framingham, Mass.-based Allen Bonde Group (ABG) is hoping to bring a little clarity to the industry with its latest self-service scorecard. ABG identified Bozeman, Mont.-based RightNow Technologies Inc. and Cupertino, Calif.-based Knova Software Inc. as the leaders in the market.

"They're in that [leadership] position for two reasons," said Allen Bonde, president. "RightNow did a great job on the sales and marketing front and executed well. Knova has done well because their integration with ServiceWare is smoother than they or we had hoped."

RightNow scored a 17 and Knova a 16.5, based on a 20-point scale that awards up to five points across four categories.

Bonde defines the self-service market fairly broadly, encompassing companies that have identified and marketed themselves as self-service software vendors; that participate in deals where self-service is a primary, if not leading, requirement; and where a majority of revenue is focused on self-service products. For the self-service vendor rankings, this amounted to roughly 30 companies, 20 of which were listed in the ABG rankings.

Vendors were assigned a value from one to five in four categories: brand, or their visibility in the market; partners, their penetration in the sales channel and the quality of their partnerships; technology, the breadth and depth of their functionality; and delivery, or their ability to bring applications to market, grow their business, present a client base and provide a mature hosted application.

The 2005 vendor rankings, Bonde's second ranking report of the market, identified eight vendors as "key players," those with a cumulative score between 14 and 16. They are: Art Technology Group, BroadVision Inc., InQuira Inc., iPhrase Technologies Inc., Kaidara Software Inc., Kana Software Inc., SafeHarbor Technology Corp. and Siebel System Inc.'s self-service division (formerly Edocs). Those rated as specialists, or between 10 and 14, were LivePerson Inc., SupportSoft Inc., Talisma Corp., eGain Communications Corp., Netonomy, RightAnswers LLC, EasyAsk Inc., Conversagent Inc., Jive Software and noHold Inc.

"Our advice is don't read too much into the final score," Bonde said. "Some of the most interesting information is in the sub-categories."

One thing that has become clear, Bonde said, is that the market remains wide open. While there has been some consolidation, the top three vendors saw total revenue go from roughly $100 million to $200 million in the past year, which represents only about 15% of what ABG estimates is the $1.5 billion total market.

For more information:

Read what Edocs has to say about combining billing with self-service

Learn the (other) big payoff from self-service

"For the most part, there's still consolidation that will happen," Bonde said. "I would be not too surprised if Oracle made a play to acquire one of the companies in the top 10 here. There are half-dozen contenders for being the leader as a platform and the rest will emerge as best-of-breed plug-ins."

Additionally, companies are continuing to position themselves as self-service vendors. Bonde is making the rankings available at a free Web site: www.selfservicescorecard.com. While a schedule has not been determined, Bonde plans to update the rankings regularly based on market events or on a quarterly basis.

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