I know the customer service market is consolidating as it matures. I’ve been tracking the consolidation of the knowledge management, multichannel management and EFM space for a while. However, at no time has this consolidation been quantified as when I recently helped my colleague William Band update his maturity model of the CRM space, known as a Forrester TechRadar.

Have a look at this partial list of vendors that have been acquired or have merged with another entity:

Field Service:

  • Dexterra acquired by Antenna Software (2009)
  • Sybase iAnywhere acquired by SAP (2010)
  • Servigistics acquired by PTC (2012)
  • Syclo acquired by SAP (2012)

Enterprise listening platforms and community platforms:

  • Radian6 acquired by salesforce.com (2011)
  • Overtone acquired by KANA Software (2011)
  • Leverage Software acquired by Telligent (2011)
  • Collective Intellect acquired by Oracle (2012)
  • Cymfony acquired by Visible Technologies (2012)

 Multichannel customer service solutions:

  • RightNow acquired by Oracle (2012)
  • Ciboodle acquired by KANA Software (2012)
  • CDC Software and Consona merge to form Aptean (2012)

Or, take another look at the acquisitions that some of the large customer service software vendors have made recently to round out their capabilities:

  • Oracle: Acquired  InQuira, a leading knowledge management solution (2011); acquired RightNow (2012). RightNow had gone through its own series of acquisitions prior to this, acquiring Q-Go, a natural language search vendor, and HiveLive, a social media monitoring vendor.
  • SAP acquired the mobility platform solutions provider Sybase (2012); SAP entered into a partnership with eGain for knowledge management (2011); SAP made a move into social media analysis with a partnership with NetBase (2012); and acquired Syclo to accelerate its push into mobility, including efforts behind mobile asset management and field service solutions (2012).
  • Salesforce.com: Since 2008, salesforce.com has made a series of acquisitions to assemble customer service assets, such as InStranet for knowledge management, Informavores for visual workflow editing, and GroupSwim, which is now part of Chatter. More-recent salesforce.com customer-service-related acquisitions since 2010 include: 1) Activa Live, a cloud-based chat vendor; 2) Radian6, a social media monitoring and engagement platform; 3) Dimdim, a collaboration vendor; 4) Model Metrics, a cloud services consulting company; 5) Assist.ly, a customer support and help desk company for the small business market; 6) Stypi, a collaborative authoring tool; and 7) GoInstant for cobrowsing.

That is a lot of acquisitions in the past two years, and momentum seems to be accelerating this year and into the future. This means a couple of things: 1) you should explore these solutions before you build your own customer service software, because bets are that vendor solutions exist that support your unique requirements, and 2) point solution vendors will have to work a lot harder to prove their added value against suite solutions as businesses are looking for simplified technology ecosystems from fewer rather than more vendors.