Is KANA Making a Comeback?

I have to admit that I have a very long history with KANA.

Yes, I worked with eVergance (then a subsidiary, now part of KANA) for about a year before doing this — what I am doing now.

Yes, I covered them for 8 years while at Gartner.  And, if the people that talked to me then are to be believed — a report I wrote in 2004 where I basically said that KANA was on its way to go out of business or get acquired was responsible for the change in their direction and strategy.

Yes, I have many friends and professional acquaintances there (contrary to gossip, there are some people still left in there).

All in all, not a bad history — few vendors with whom I have more experience, history, or know more about.  I do believe that their technology is very good, some of it is “vintage” right now (OK, old) and some of it is quite good (but in need of further proof in the market, like their SEM offer).  They are a client – we did a webinar together last week, doing another one soon in the future and I advice their management team occasionally.

So, I know enough about the company to know what I am talking about — at least in my mind.

I am going to be very honest – I totally thought they were done before they were acquired by Accel-KKR (which, for all intent and purpose they were – as evidenced by the terms of the deal we know).  I never thought they would come back as a viable player in their  space — I thought that A-KKR would eventually sell them to recover their cost of acquisition plus a few dollars.  While not 100% convinced  this would not happen  (I am around 90% convinced), I must say that I hope the other 10% where does not happen.

Even within my bias I can see some glimmers of the old KANA in there, fighting to stage a comeback.  Two announcements from the past two days: few days ago (October 4) they launched the new version, KANA SEM 11, of their product and today (October 6th) they announced they acquired Lagan — a leading provider of Government Services and CRM software (back when I covered them, we called it Government CRM – Citizen Relationship Management — yeah, very clever). One more thing, recently moved out of their old building — which is like leaving all the ghosts behind — a great move.

While this does not make the comeback complete – they are a few steps in the right direction .  Of course, much needs to happen and lots of strategy and execution is still ahead (KANA management, glad to work on the strategy together — wink-wink), I believe this makes them a viable vendor for two reasons: 1) they are showing they recovered from the death spiral they had entered with product direction and releases (caveat: the older products, particularly KM and ERMS, are still end-of-life  — hoping I am wrong or that they reverse that and reinvest in them — or build a better migration from there to SEM); 2) they are taking on a tough — but very rewarding — market to prove their SEM solution and that they can make a comeback.  Solutions for Government are tough to deliver, have long sales cycles, and need lots of patience — but they always prove the value and flexibility of the software they implement.  This is a good testing and piloting ground for SEM and it will definitely make it a better product.

Welcome back? Not yet… but nice to see them going in the right direction…

disclaimer: in case you did not read the post but are just reading the disclaimer, KANA is a client and a former employer, and I still have friends and people I respect there.  A lot.  So, as with any other of my opinions — take this with a grain of salt.  Don’t make any decisions based on this short 500+ words blog post, but do your Due Dilligence and take this as yet another opinion.  Failure to do that and try to blame me for your decision will net you the same laughter I used when I saw Porky’s the very first time (I was 15 and living in Argentina, in my defense) which was probably the most I laughed in my entire life in one sitting — although some of Robin Williams comedy bits were also there… but I digress.  Do your homework, don’t blame me.