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RightNow Review


Company Information:
  • RightNow Technologies, Inc. was founded by CEO Greg Gianforte in 1997 in Bozeman, Montana and acquired by Oracle in January 2012.
  • The company first considered retail software strategies and technologies, but later pursued both business and consumer markets.
  • While RightNow offers a broad based CRM software suite, it is generally regarded as specializing in the B2C customer service industry.
  • In May 2006, RightNow acquired SalesNet for $9M in an effort to accelerate its delivery of a respectable SFA solution. The SalesNet acquisition was unsuccessful, in part due to RightNow's B2C focus (which deemphasizes Sales Force Automation) and in part due to challenged technology integration due to disparate technologies between SalesNet and RightNow. Salesnet was later spun off to an independent operator.
CRM Software Information:
  • RightNow is full featured CRM solution which uses a smart client architecture that connects and distributes presentation logic, application logic and database logic between browser client and a hosted server.
  • The company's roots and most competitive solution lie in its customer service application.
  • RightNow's sales force automation (SFA) and marketing solutions have never hit their stride and appear in some disarray following the SalesNet acquisition.
  • RightNow offers both hosted delivery and on-premise licensing.
  • Pricing is generally from $75 to $100 per user per month based on minimum user volumes.
CRM Software Products and Modules:
  • RightNow Service. Multi channel customer service solution.
  • RightNow Sales. The SFA solution seems to be a mix of internal development and the former SalesNet product.
  • RightNow Marketing. Campaign management.
  • RightNow Feedback
RightNow Strengths:
  • Customer service. The product's ability to manage customer service and self service through such channels as e-mail, live Internet chat, and telephone interactions is competitively strong against any other SaaS CRM solution.
  • Voice enablement. A suite of voice-enabled CRM products which include Voice Interface to Knowledge Base, Voice Interface to Incident Management, Voice Interface to Locator, Status Applications, Password Reset, Survey, and One Number Routing. This has particular value for section 508 disabilities compliance.
  • Tools strength. The Customer Experience Designer is a reasonable workflow tool. The Workspace Designer and Feedback feature sets are uniquely strong among SaaS CRM competitors.
RightNow Weaknesses:
  • Difficult to manage. RightNow 8 includes a 15MB "smart client" download and the associated periodic maintenance downloads. Mandating local code on every users' PC defeats the thin client/SaaS benefits of simplified upgrades, reduced maintenance and access from anywhere or any PC.
  • Weak SFA. While the customer service module is quite strong, the sales force automation and marketing modules do not compete well with other SaaS CRM products. Shortly after internally building an SFA application that fell short, RightNow acquired SalesNet to bolster its SFA capabilities. Any SFA advancement has yet to be demonstrated.
  • Unfriendly user interface. While this is debatable, and beauty is always in the eye of the beholder, we've heard the RightNow interface described as difficult or unusual by many sources. The product is divided among multiple browser windows and 'consoles' making navigation less than intuitive.
RightNow Customers:
  • Alltel Corp
  • Social Security Administration
  • Cisco Systems (also a Salesforce.com customer)
  • Nikon
  • Vodafone
RightNow Competitors:
  • Salesforce.com
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM
  • Oracle CRM OnDemand
  • SAP CRM
Company Information
Product Information
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Strengths
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RightNow CRM Review

Corporate Strategy
Having started as a glorified FAQ software solution in 1997, RightNow is today the third largest SaaS CRM software company (behind Salesforce.com and Oracle OnDemand). The company's culture stands in stark contrast to both Salesforce.com and Oracle. Far from Silicon Valley, the company has inherited a quiet, confident and professional attitude from CEO Greg Gianforte. RightNow is one of the few CRM manufacturers who consistently practices what it preaches and demonstrates CRM strategy and execution at every opportunity. RightNow pioneered the concept of a Customer Success Indicator (CSI) in order to measure customer utilization and then advance and optimize the customer's usage and value from their CRM software investment.

Company Message
RightNow is clearly bucking the software as a service industry momentum and benefits in a major way by abandoning the thin-client, browser-based approach for a fat client (politely referred to as smart client) alternative. Until the current version 8, RightNow hosted its CRM systems as a browser-based web service. With the release of version 8 the company introduced a new fat client architecture that requires an initial 15-Mbyte download for every user and periodic downloaded maintenance releases thereafter. According to RightNow CEO Greg Gianforte, "AJAX and Web 2.0 are great technologies for casual use, but for mission critical you need the capabilities of a desktop app." We at Online-CRM find Mr. Gianforte's claim totally without merit and little more than an excuse for aging technology. Competitors such as Salesforce.com, Oracle OnDemand and Aplicor make extensive use of AJAX and thin client technologies in order to delivery highly interactive, rich user interfaces to CRM users without the associated baggage of client-side downloads, never ending software maintenance releases, and the inevitable remote user support issues. A fundamental tenant of the SaaS value proposition - and one no longer delivered by RightNow - is accelerated implementation, access from any PC, centrally managed software, reduced maintenance, simplified security and a reduction in local user trouble-shooting support. It's all too obvious that the more code you place on user PCs, the more maintenance and trouble-shooting you are going to incur. RightNow customer Metrologic Instruments switched to Salesforce.com due to the required user downloads. According to Product Marketing Manager Taylor Smith, "We wanted people on the road to be able to go into an Internet cafe or wherever."

Vertical Markets
RightNow delivers vertical market solutions for Government, Financial Services, High Tech, Higher Education, Retail, Travel and Telecommunications. These industry specific solutions vary little from the horizontal product.

Company Evolution
Our opinion is that RightNow's requirement for client-side downloads is a mistake and one which will hamper the company's growth in the SaaS market. While CEO Gianforte refers to the on-premise software giants such as SAP and Oracle as "the declining side of the industry", his company takes a major stride toward bulky software and loses competitive positioning relative to thin-client competitors who deliver much more of the SaaS value proposition. To quite rumors that RightNow would follow suite with Salesforce.com's AppExchange, CEO Gianforte responded "The number one complaint [customers] have about software vendors is that they can't be accountable to their customers, and there's no way I can be accountable to my customers if I show up and hand them a catalog and say pick anything you want." We agree with this position. During the two prior eras of host-based processing and client/server CRM systems, the promise of seamless integration among multiple vendor business software systems was never realized. It appears questionable at best whether AppExchange will rewrite this history or if visionaries such as CEO Gianforte will gain the upper hand by correctly choosing to deliver single vendor (integrated) solutions from an accountable source.

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