Kana seeks to bring P-to-P to B-to-B, CRM

Kana Communications is looking at ways to add peer-to-peer communications to its e-commerce offerings, first for business-to-business transactions and then for business-to-consumer applications, to enable real-time collaboration.

The company has just licensed the Jabber Communications Platform for instant messaging for use internally by Kana developers. But Kana's plans for instant messaging and p-to-p computing extend beyond that to enable collaboration via Kana CRM applications, according to Bud Michael, executive vice president of products and marketing at Kana, in Menlo Park, California.

"That's why we're looking at Jabber and other technologies or platforms that would enable p-to-p computing," Michael said.

In a b-to-b paradigm, for example, several business partners could work together to contribute input on a proposal, Michael said. "It just dramatically increases the productivity," he said.

Kana is thinking mostly of utilizing p-to-p technologies in b-to-b applications and would not do so for more than a year, Michael said. In business-to-consumer environments, p-to-p technologies could be deployed in self-help applications for quicker interaction between merchants and customers on problem tickets, he said. Kana would want to extend this to wireless, non-PC devices such as PDAs and cell phones, but roadblocks exist such as the fragmented wireless services market in the United States, which impedes communication, Michael said.

One analyst, however, raised doubts about the possibility of utilizing p-to-p technologies in e-commerce applications.

"Beyond internal support deployments, the use of chat/instant messaging as a customer service application has failed to capture the fancy of online consumers," said David Daniels, senior analyst at Jupiter Media Metrix. "Several sites have shut off the feature because of poor user adoption."

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