Gianforte says chief information officers are tired of what he calls costly and time-consuming on-premise implementations. His company, he says, is picking up enterprise customers from both of his big-name rivals.
"We beat SAP at Nikon, for all their campaign management.. And those are just some of the ones who are prepared for us to talk about it," Gianforte told Silicon.com.
He said many companies are unwilling to admit when they've been forced to ditch costly software rollouts: "You have to understand this is fairly embarrassing for these companies because they made big investments and couldn't get value."
Gianforte singled outfor criticism, on the back of recent poor results. "You could drive a truck through the cracks in SAP's armor," he said, claiming he would much rather have his current problem--the recent announcement of $49 million in losses related to a change in RightNow's licensing model--than those of SAP or Siebel, which have to turn around far larger businesses.
Of the two larger rivals, Gianforte said, his biggest day-to-day competitor is Siebel's enterprise-level on-premise offering.
Last year, RightNow, based in Bozeman, Mont., saw 70 percent growth in. Gianforte said the enterprise is his No. 1 target, although the midmarket-- --remains important.
And although SAP and Siebel are now bothin progressive steps, Gianforte claims the difference is not simply one of on-premise versus on-demand.
"There is no such thing as a software-as-a-service market," he said. "Nobody wakes up and says, 'I want to buy some software as a service.' They say, 'I wish my call center worked better,' or 'I wish my customer churn was lower.'"
But speed of implementation is key, he said, and those companies accustomed to rolling out large on-premise solutions over several months have major cultural and business changes to implement before they can compete with the speed of pure-play on-demand offerings.
Analysts, however, are more temperate in their predictions than Gianforte. Although Gartner spelled out a rosy future for on-demand vendors last October, the consensus remains that on-premise offerings will remain a necessity.
Oracle and SAP did not respond to a request for comment.
This week, RightNow appointed its first head of Europe, Middle East and Africa operations, Joe Brown, signaling a greater focus on Europe.
Will Sturgeon of Silicon.com reported from London.