RightNow Technologies has taken the covers off a $25m two-year technology development project, the RightNow 8 enterprise suite. And this enterprise software-as-a-service company believes this will carry it into the big leagues.
The big leagues means breaking into that $1bn annual revenue level, about ten times current revenues. That's also where Salesforce.com wants to be, the leading software-as-a-service company.
Tuesday I talked with Greg Gianforte, founder and chief executive of RightNow. He likes to point out that there is a big difference between RightNow and Salesforce. "We are enterprise class, we compete with SAP, Oracle in the enterprise. Salesforce is aimed at smaller companies. And now with RightNow 8 this will take us to the next level in the enterpsice spoftware market."
An investment of $25m is huge for this young company, which went public in 2003. It's a bet-the-company investment and so the strategy had better be right.
Mr Gianforte believes the opportunity is in helping to automate the improvement of the customer experience.
"Businesses are constantly being challenged by lower cost business models and that means they have to focus on their customers," he says. "In mature markets customer retention becomes the new form of customer acquisition. This means that improving the customer experience is very important."
RightNow recently commissioned a study that found that nearly one-third of a sample of 1006 people had experienced anger strong enough to make them shake, or to break something--because of a bad customer experience. That's a large number of chances to lose a customer.
RightNow 8 is an enterprise application platform that builds on the company's core Customer Relationship Management application, with modules for different industry sectors providing ways to improve customer experience. Third parties/partners will fill in the gaps in producing modules for various smaller verticals.
RightNow isn't a web 2.0 company by any stretch of the this short-lived definition. It's a fast growing enterprise software company positioned to profit from the corporate move towards a mix of hosted software services and in-house IT.
Also, corporations have done a ton of cost cutting in their IT departments, now there is time to look at ways to use IT to build revenues.
RightNow certainly has a shot at grabbing more business because of its lower pricing and fast deployment. It's challenge with RightNow 8 will be in distinguishing its approach from several competing enterprise application platforms.