The Customer Service Market Keeps Consolidating: Consona and CDC Software Merge


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On August 7, CSC Software merged with Consona Corporation, to form a new entity called Aptean (see the press release about the news here). There have been no details communicated about the go-forward plan for both company’s products, but here are my views about their respective CRM assets.

Consona, founded in 1986, has its roots in ERP. Over the years, it has acquired a number of ERP solutions which include DTR, Cimnet Systems, AXIS, Encompix, Intuitive, Relevant, and SupplyWorks – which have good strengths in a variety of vertical markets. More recently it has acquired of and an open-source, SaaS-based ERP software vendor, Compiere. In 2006, it made a foray into the CRM market by acquiring Onyx CRM, and then KNOVA for knowledge management (2007) and SupportSoft (2009) a support automation vendor. Its recent CRM focus has been on customer support automation application for the hi-tech vertical as there is good synergy between CRM, support automation and knowledge management for this user base.

CDC Software has had a similar acquisition history over the last 10+ years which is best summarized here. It has acquired more than a dozen software and business services companies. It is currently organized into four internal business units, each of which focuses on a different aspect of automating, managing and streamlining operations: CDC Front Office, CDC Manufacturing, CDC Supply Chain, and CDC Solutions for Microsoft.

The issued press release says that Aptean’s will continue to be focused on applications for for enterprise resource planning (ERP), supply chain management (SCM), manufacturing operations management, customer relationship management (CRM), and enterprise performance management.

My focus at Forrester is on customer service solutions, and looking at Aptean’s CRM product portfolio, I see overlap of products, some of which have had a checkered investment history and success in the marketplace. Specifically:

  • CDC Pivotal: Pivotal is a strong and mature product, well suited for midsized organizations. Forrester placed CDC Software’s Pivotal solution in the “strong performer” category in its latest CRM Wave for large organizations and Customer Service WAVE report; and as a “leader” in the CRM WAVE for midsize organizations. It does not generally offer industry-specific versions, however, it does have strength in the financial services sector. One point of worry is that Pivotal’s go-forward roadmap featured mostly incremental improvements.
  • Consona’s CRM products has suffered market traction since their respective acquisitions. Consona’s knowledge management product for customer service, once a best-in-breed product, has suffered from lack of investment, but had seen some renewed focus in 2011, with new releases, industry recognition, and customers upgrading to the latest version. The CRM product has not seen much recent investment. In July 2012, Consona rebranded their products by their original names (Onyx and KNOVA) at an attempt to gain more market recognition about these products, and perhaps to seek buyers for these point solutions.

In the CRM space, Aptean has challenges ahead of them: (1) to decide whether to invest in their strong point products, some of which have loyal customer bases or to spend the energy in trying to integrate products together, a strategy which has historically less success (2) to rationalize overlapping product roadmaps (3) to clearly articulate upgrade and maintenance commitments to their existing customer base, (4) to decide whether to be committed to customer service or to CRM (5) to be committed to the hi-tech vertical (which is not Pivotal’s strength), and (6) to decide to walk away from historical assets that are no longer delivering value.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Kate Leggett
Kate serves Business Process Professionals. She is a leading expert on customer service strategies. Her research focuses on helping organizations establish and validate customer service strategies strategies, prioritize and focus customer service projects, facilitate customer service vendor selection, and plan for project success.


  1. Kate, thanks for the great write-up.

    “Back in the day” Pivotal and Onyx were two top CRM solutions focused on the mid-market. But as time went on, things got fuzzy as they were acquired by CDC and Consona, which offered ERP and more.

    I find this merger interesting given that the two firms were such arch enemies. They had a big fight over Onyx, which Consona eventually won. The merger seems almost an act of desperation, perhaps driven by investors who wanted out. I’m skeptical that merging the two companies with their collections of applications will result in a better brand or better solutions.

  2. Yes, I am skeptical too. It looks like a move from a holding company and I worry about the future investment in their current products


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