In its second-largest acquisition, Amazon buys the company for $970 million.
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While enhancing products and ensuring that the underlying architecture keeps up, “I want to continue to make our footprint bigger,” Tuller says. So far the company is doing well at that. “The breadth of what Brightware offers is definitely keeping them very competitive,” says Levitt at IDC.
Harry Watkins, senior analyst at research firm Aberdeen Group in Boston, agrees that Brightware has built a comprehensive customer-care offering. “They are deep in terms of their ability to handle customer service,” says Watkins, who follows customer relationship management and focuses on sales and marketing automation. He believes Brightware’s strategy will be to expand into the entire range of customer relationship management.
The company has already stepped in that direction by launching Brightware Analytics, which builds profiles of customer preferences from the interactions that take place through the other products. The latest product generation is Brightware 2001, a suite that includes Analytics, Answer, Contact Center plus its eMarketing software. eMarketing includes AccuCast software for creating and managing outbound e-mail marketing campaigns and Brightware Alerts for sending targeted e-mail follow-ups. The whole suite is built on a platform programmed in Java and designed around open standards.
Watkins says Brightware will want to add marketing campaign management tools and the ability to manage outbound communication with customers through multiple channels.
The whole solution
Tuller says Brightware’s expansion plans currently focus on analytical tools meant to turn raw information about customers into an understanding of customer needs. Meanwhile he says the company is relying on partnerships with companies such as Siebel Systems to cover the traditional customer relationship management field. While Brightware’s software focuses on online dealings with customers, Siebel’s is more concerned with traditional channels. The companies combine data from both products into a single profile of the customer. Tuller says the goal is to offer a “whole product solution.”
As for Borders.com, it has recently upgraded to Brightware Answer 5.0. Besides some ease-of-use improvements, Moore says a major benefit is a thin-client capability that lets customer-service representatives in Borders’ Tennessee-based call center hook into the product and provide backup to the e-mail group in Ann Arbor. In the future, Borders will be able to set up virtual agents outside its contact centers to help with peak workloads. And having met its initial goal of answering 95% of e-mails within 24 hours, Borders will probably raise the bar higherw. As customers grow more used to e-business, Moore says, their expectations continue to rise. That sounds like good news for Brightware.
Grant Buckler is a Kingston, Ont.-based freelance business writer.
Brightware at a glance
Headquarters: San Rafael, Calif.
Employees: 135 in San Rafael and London
Customers: 75 including Borders, Neiman Marcus, Compaq Computer Corp., AT&T; Wireless Services, the Australian Tax Office, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Swiss Air, and Trip.com.
Investors: Norwest, Venrock, Advanta, JP Morgan and Hambrecht & Quist.