CRM Idol 2013 Review: MindTouch

Knowledge is a BIG problem as MindTouch says. Knowledge Management for Support Channels is the name of the game for them. They offer a SaaS-based solution that claims to reduce support cost by providing relevant answers through self-service. And to take away any doubts about what they do, they’ve coined the term “KaaS” – Knowledge as a Service!

The founders, Steve and Aaron who know each other from Microsoft back in 2003, left to start an on-premise open source collaboration platform in 2006. Then in 2009, when Dropbox started to make waves, they pivoted and decided to full off-premise (now called “Cloud”) with a new product that built on their base competencies of Knowledge management and indexation of documents. The company is based in San Diego and currently has about 40 employees. They target the mid- and upper-end of the market. They currently have about 500 customers, and the 300 legacy on-premise ones are in the process of moving to Cloud. Figure 1 - Mindtouch Integration
What is interesting about MindTouch is that it is built up from the ground to be ‘consumed’ as an API foremost. This means that the data layer is completely abstracted from the presentation layer, and thus allow the client complete flexibility to give the user interface the look and feel that is best suited for the environment in which it is deployed – from an intranet to a public web site with thousands of customers accessing it (600K requests per day at the HTC Support site). Customers can host their own skin files (themes) to adapt the look and feel to their needs. The layout they generate is SEO optimized and indexable and thus helps in getting good search engine positioning. Stale content is removed automatically which also helps for SEO.

They embed a web thin client into the website that can connect to around 120 REST-full web services that MindTouch provides. The SaaS platform itself can integrate existing Document stores and databases to reuse existing resources (in which companies have in general already invested a lot and won’t simply write off). Content can also include images, customer comments and ratings, and tutorials for example.

Their expertise and pertinence of results comes from concentrating on optimizing the underlying data relations. They use machine learning and an algorithm called HelpRank to ensure that the right results bubble up. MindTouch has cross-departmental collaborative features to add knowledge and content as needed, and this includes a version control and user rights management system. Furthermore, there is a very complete analysis and reporting system that allows content managers to finetune the platform. Figure 2 - MindTouch Report page
Mindtouch can be integrated with any ticketing system directly into the Salesforce. SugarCRM and SAP user interfaces among others.

Responses to customer queries can also use Knowledge and content stored MindTouch through a drag & drop integrated customer service environment, saving a lot of time by first of all finding relevant content and secondly reducing the time needed to craft a high-standard response, adapted to whichever channel the reply goes out.

 The presentation and demo by MindTouch was very well prepared and impressed the judges. Aaron Fulkerson used some interesting techniques such as telling us at various steps of the presentation which were the three things to remember at each stage. The judges’ questions were anticipated rather than reacted to, so he led the conversation rather than let himself be thrown off by some of the hard questions thrown at him.

The product left us with the feeling that it is really mature and ideal for very large companies with many information assets and support channels to manage.  Even though MindTouch is still a relatively young company just like the other contestant in CRM Idol, they’ve managed to build an enterprise-grade platform that we believe will do well in their space. One axis of development that we see could be of interest is to use this to drive content discovery and message-to-customer targeting for Marketing  and Sales purposes, and possibly provide collaboration around user generated content. Overall, MindTouch has done a great job of doing a convincing presentation on an innovative solution.

CRM Idol 2013 Contestant

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