Contact Center Market: Game On
Aspect, Cisco and inContact make some moves.
From CPE contact center players introducing cloud strategies to the upstart SaaS-only players trying to usurp them, it's been a busy week for those that cover the contact center (customer collaboration?) market. It began Monday evening with Aspect Software’s first analyst meeting ever; moved on to Cisco's Collaboration Summit event and was capped off with yesterday’s announcements that Verizon will incorporate inContact’s cloud-based offer into its portfolio beginning next month, and that LiveOps has purchased social media-savvy Datasquirt.
Aspect Software Analyst Meeting
For the first time, the company created from the merger of Davox, Cellit, Rockwell, Aspect Telecommunications (and others )--privately held by Golden Gate since 2004--held a meeting to update industry analysts on its solutions and roadmap. For a company that has persistently claimed a space in Gartner's prized leader quadrant, this meeting was a long time coming.
In April 2011, for the first time since going private, Aspect filed financials with the SEC (securities law requires private companies that exceed a certain level of stock distribution to file financial data). With 2010 revenues of $507 million, Aspect is a significant player in the market, with thousands of customers worldwide. But the percent of revenue driven by product sales versus services has drifted down from 36% in 2006 to 23% in both 2009 and 2010.
How to reverse the trend? Move loyal, legacy Aspect TDM ACD customers to the latest platform, Unified IP 7 and sell existing customers more elements of the product portfolio, e.g., workforce optimization. And capitalize, while not over-rotating, on the tight integration of Unified IP with Microsoft Lync and SharePoint. Aspect successfully moved much of its predictive dialer base to Unified IP over the past few years. It now needs to replicate that success with its ACD base.
Cisco Collaboration Summit
At this year's summit, held in gloriously warm and sunny Miami, Cisco's biggest messages were about cloud. Several sessions were dominated by topics such as telepresence in the cloud (the Callway offer), conferencing in the cloud (WebEx) and enterprise communications in the cloud (Hosted Collaboration Service or HCS) as well as the virtualization of infrastructure, applications and desktops that help enable cloud. The 10,000-foot-view message is that the Cisco Collaboration Cloud (with high-value applications like WebEx, Jabber and Quad) will interface with an HCS Partner Cloud (for the voice services.)
From a contact center perspective, the cloud news was that early trials of Unified Contact Center Enterprise integrated into HCS will begin in January 2012, with general availability scheduled with the 9.0 release in "early summer." Contact center business unit General Manager John Hernandez not only reinforced the "Drive to #1" message that has been his mantra for the past 18 months , he pointed to success closing the market share gap between Cisco and number one Avaya.
inContact and LiveOps
inContact's announcement that Verizon will begin distributing its solution as Virtual Contact Center is great news for the cloud-based contact center solution company that earlier this year signed a distribution deal with Siemens Enterprise. While arguably Verizon has several contact center partners, including Genesys and Cisco, the inContact solution is a great fit for Verizon customers looking to upgrade from legacy Verizon offers, e.g., Centrex ACD or Web Center.
The LiveOps acquisition of Datasquirt brings in-house multichannel capabilities, including social media, that earlier had been available only with partner solutions. As one of LiveOps customers, CEO of American Support Matt Zemon, tweeted to me this morning, "To have all of these channels available in a single platform will be a powerful combination."
A busy week indeed.