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RightNow Buys Social Software Firm To Match Salesforce.com

Salesforce.com rival RightNow has agreed to buy enterprise social software concern HiveLive as the social bridge to its multichannel contact centre enterprise applications

Hosted customer relationship management (CRM) company RightNow, is buying enterprise social software startup, HiveLive for $6 million (£4 million) in cash.

RightNow, a competitor to Salesforce.com in providing hosted applications for customer relationship management (CRM). has products inlcuding a multichannel agent desktop that connects businesses to customers via phone, chat, feedback, web self-service and email. The company also offers marketing and sales applications to improve customer interactions.

But what RightNow lacked was a social component to round out the way businesses and customers interact in response to the fact that consumers are increasingly turning to social network sites and online communities to seek advice about products or services for purchase. Salesforce.com and Oracle, which also offers as SaaS-based CRM, added social software applications in 2008 and Twitter in March.

RightNow will use the HiveLive platform, which is also delivered as SaaS, as the social bridge to its multichannel contact centre offering. With it, companies will be able to create customer support and idea generation communities that include forums, blogs, question-and-answer dialogues and media. The HiveLive assets will enable RightNow customers to build insightful, two-way relationships with their customers and end users.

When HiveLive came out of stealth mode in November 2007, HiveLive chief executive and co-founder, John Kembel told eWEEK the notion of community building would be integral to CRM. Apparently, RightNow agreed, choosing it over other options in the market, which include Mzinga, Awareness, Jive Software and other social software startups.

Kembel will join RightNow as general manager of social solutions, with HiveLive’s staff joining at the HiveLive headquarters in Colorado. RightNow said expects to close the transaction next week.

RightNow chief executive, Greg Gianforte said that offering company-built communities represents a significant market opportunity on par with Web self-service and contact centres.

“It’s become clear that the number of customer conversations taking place outside a company’s walls is increasing..the volume of social interaction now actually exceeds email,” Gianforte said. “Organisations have spent billions of dollars building trusted brands, and we think the market will be significant as they make investments to protect these brands.”

There is truth in that, and there may be no hotter place for CRM experts to look for sales leads or just to check the pulse of the consumer mindset than on microblogging service Twitter, which is expanding its comfort zone with businesses. Businesses, such as Dell and Pepsi, use Twitter to connect with customers and promote products.

Salesforce.com just turned on integration with Twitter today, opening its business customers up to the fire hose of social context Twitter offers.