Development is on Windows NT-based PCs. Software is written in Java or C. Developers work with all the automated email systems, including Microsoft Exchange, SMTP, and POP3. They also work with the major call center and telephony systems, such as Clarify, Vantive, Remedy, and Siebel.

Products are typically on a six-month development cycle, including gathering requirements from marketing and from customers, developing detailed functional specifications with engineering, developing and executing a project plan. Product features include directing a customer to their own records for checking an account balance, order status, or whether a product is in stock. Brightware products connect these email requests to the database or web page that can provide the answer and automatically return this information to the customer. Email Assistance, 4.0, for example, added features to extend its core functionality across multiple departments and multiple web sites, for international organizations. Supervisors can review responses edited by various customer service representatives to ensure consistency across the organization, and email inquiries can be routed across multiple departments within an organization to coordinate the best response.

New technology being investigated includes XML, Dynamic HTML (DHTML), and voice-over-IP.

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Although a California high-tech company, Brightware's offices are not in Silicon Valley; they are in Marin County, a better commute for most. The company offers selected telecommuting options. Staff members work in cubicles and offices.

Benefits include holidays, a 401(k) plan, medical, dental, vision insurance, vacation and sick leave. The company subsidizes massages, provides sodas, and offers a discount at a local fitness center. Fooz ball tables in the office are part of the culture.The refrigerator is stocked for employees. Social activities include get-togethers after work.

Dress is casual; jeans are ok. Official hours are from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM. A 60-hour workweek is common for product developers. Compensatory time is offered, along with flexible work schedules, which may include working on weekends, and then taking an afternoon off to attend a child's activity. For developers, there is virtually no need for travel, except for occasional visits to customer sites. Professional services team members travel extensively.

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Brightware's product suite consists of web, email, and live assistance componentsdesigned to direct customers to web-based information as quickly and precisely as possible. Its web assistance product, Concierge, routes requests to the appropriate section of a web site or most appropriate interaction channel, but, further, can dynamically generate pages and initiate question-and-answer dialogs to determine what information is relevant. Its live assistance component, Converse, brings chat software to the contact agent, linking customers directly with service agents. Its email assistance product, Answer, drafts emails responses which can be reviewed by service agents or sent automatically. Contact Center provides workflow, queuing and routing tools at the desktop for agents and supervisors. Its foundation modules, Knowledge Pack, Connect, and Analytics, provide vertical industry customization, application interfaces, and reporting capabilities.

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Brightware has between 40 and 50 engineers who are responsible for developing and supporting the product suite. It also has 20 staff members in professional services, who install the product for customers. Job titles range from Technician to Consultant, Manager, and Director. Current staff members range from programmers with C and Java experience to Ph.D.s with email and human factors expertise. Technical staff members work in the Product Services, Software Development, and Information Systems groups, as well as in the International group, with positions generally in England.

According to Tuller, Brightware looks for candidates with, "intelligence, drive, dedication, and technical ability related to email software." Database experience, such as Microsoft's SQL or Oracle, is helpful. And, says Tuller, "candidates should be able to work in a team environment." The company rarely hires entry-level people. Candidates are found largely through online recruiting and employment agencies, employee referrals, and networking.

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Job Title





Web Application Consultant BS or MS CS, Engineering 2-5 years HTML, JavaScript, C++, Oracle, SQL Server Product Services
Database Designer/Programmer BS CS 2-3 years SQL, Java, JDBC, C, C++, Crystal Reports, Brio, Actuate Software Development
Build Engineer BS CS 1-2 years Perl, Makefiles, ClearCase, ClearQuest Software Development
Sr. QA Engineer BS CS 3-5 years SQL Server, Oracle, Sybase, HTML, DHTML, XML, VB, Java, C++ Software Development
Technical Sales Engineer BS CS, AI, EE, IS 3-5 years Internet messaging & CRM systems & databases Technical Services
Technical Instructor  BS or MS  4-5 years AI knowledge, email, web browsers, NT, GUI editors, DBA, LANs, WANs, MAPI Product Services
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  • Computerworld, "IT Women in Silicon Valley," March 13, 2000
  • Information Week, "E-Retail Customer Service: It's More than Just E-Mail," September 25, 2000
  • International Data Corporation, "Leadership Grid Email Response Software Vendors," 1999
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