Not quite two months ago Pegasystems landed on the envied spot on a Forrester Wave report evaluating real time interaction management solutions.

Forrester named Pegasystems as one of two leaders in the category. Terradata was the other, and Pegasystems told CMSWire that it clocked in with the highest score.

For those wondering what the fuss was all about, now's the chance to find out. 

Pegasystems just released significant enhancements to Pega 7, weaving its real time interaction management functionality throughout the updated sales automation and customer service modules. Before, it was only available in the marketing module, according to Don Schuerman, CTO and VP of Product Marketing. "The point behind these upgrades was to leverage the real-time interaction management capabilities to the greatest extent possible," he told CMSWire.

In the updated version the real time interaction functionality is embedded in the customer service desktop as well as dashboards used by agents or retail sales reps. That way, Schuerman explained, reps can make the same recommendations that customers receive when they use the self-service modules.

Reading Your Customers

This is where Pegasystems excels, Schuerman said: its ability to string together seemingly disparate events and come to a conclusion that a particular offer should be made.   

For example, "We may notice that a customer has been looking at the terms and conditions of a particular product or service on a site and then coupled with other information, decide that the time is ripe to make them an offer." Conversely, the system can detect otherwise unnoticed signs that a customer is discontented or even angry about a service and make overtures or offers to entice him back, he said.

For the unacquainted, real time interaction management is also sometimes referred to as "next best action" – as in, "What is the next best action a sales or service rep can take when confronted by an eager or angry customer?"

Personally, I prefer "next best action" because it underlines a trend now common in customer experience and sales, which is that customers and B2B buyers have gotten very smart and knowledgeable and therefore are more unpredictable than ever before.

It is an issue for sales and marketing, not because (we hope) they want to put one over on the customer, but because they now find themselves tracking far behind her in the buying journey, unable to answer impromptu questions or present the best offer. And of course, being blindsided with an unexpected lost sale is never fun either.

Vying for Position

As he lauded Pegasystems' position in the Forrester Wave report, Schuerman pointed out that it was the only CRM vendor in the leadership position.

It is an interesting observation and one that could well propel Pegasystems forward in the market. 

Then again, other providers are active in this space too, especially from the business intelligence community, as Forrester noted. This sector is also highly fragmented, which means its growth and evolution is only beginning. 

Indeed if the typical sales and marketing tech lifecycle is any indication, Pegasystems could just as easily jump forward several steps into the market, or find itself sidelined if other predictive-based approaches gain momentum.

Meanwhile users should be asking their own questions. They are starting to see that "What is the next best action I can take?' is a key question that has to be asked at any given point in the sales and marketing cycle. Soon it will be time to move on to "Who is best situated to give me that answer?"

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