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Kana extends Web services support to KM

The contact center vendor's new knowledge management software makes good on a company pledge to support J2EE and .NET.

Contact center vendor Kana Software Inc. continued with its plan to support Web services platforms today, announcing IQ 8, a new version of its knowledge management application.

Support for J2EE is available in IQ 8 now, and .NET will be available at the beginning of the year, said H.A. Schrade, vice president of product development for the Menlo Park, Calif., company.

"Fundamentally, we've rewritten our application from ground up," Schrade said of the two-year process. "With this release, we have the needs of the enterprise and enterprise-intentioned in mind. Customers came to us and said, 'We need applications that fit into the new Web services paradigm.'"

The upgrade is both a response to customer demand and a strategic investment, according to Schrade. While many have been clamoring for .NET capabilities, few are using it.

"The demand for .NET is still probably nascent, although total cost of ownership of the .NET environment is really resonating in our customer base," he said. "Betting against Microsoft has rarely served anyone."

The IQ 8 release comes on the heels of Kana's Service 8 contact center management applications, released in late June, which are also designed to work with J2EE and .NET. The latest release is part of the company's move toward a common platform for its varied applications, including those gained from acquisitions, according to Tim Hickernell, a vice president at Stamford, Conn.-based Meta Group. While Kana is slightly behind its planned release schedule, the competition isn't any further ahead, Hickernell said.

Kana IQ 8 integrates easily not only with its own Service 8, but with other leading call center applications as well, Schrade said. Its XML-based presentation layer allows for easy adaptation to other devices, such as handheld devices, he added.

In addition to the architecture support, Kana has introduced some improvements to IQ 8, including a guided search tool. The tool will help users take a large knowledge base and narrow it down to a smaller set.

"By narrowing down the 'suspicion set,' we can bring results back to the user faster," Schrade said. "It's different from natural language search vendors in our space. If you put more words in search they're going to bring back more content rather than less."

Kana has also improved on its agent scripting, bringing more detailed and specific information to those interacting with customers and improving overall satisfaction, Schrade said.

For example, in an industry such as telecommunications, where there are multiple billing systems, Kana's application provides agents with simple scripts that lead them through the patterns in a consistent manner when dealing with customers, Schrade said.

The upgrade includes some vertical functionality. Kana will introduce four out-of-the-box industry-specific functions later this quarter for financial services, health care, high tech and communications, and government.

"The thing that I think is best about the new functionality is the release of these vertical knowledge packs," Hickernell said. "CRM in general has become so vertical that it is very important for a large corporation to have out-of-box functionality with respect to templates, taxonomy and terms that are within their vertical market."

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