NICE and IBM's Big Data Customer Experience Play
Analyzing customer interactions that take place across multiple communication channels, including voice, e-mail, chat and web.
On October 18, recording and analytics firm NICE Systems announced a solution (built on IBM technology) that will help organizations leverage--in real time--big data gathered from customer interactions that take place across multiple communication channels, e.g., voice, e-mail, chat and web.
NICE Systems, principally known as a recording and workforce management vendor, has built its analytics business over the past few years. Some of this growth has been through internal development, some through acquisition, e.g., Performix, (a performance management applications provider) in 2006, Fizzback (known for customer feedback analytics) in 2011 and Merced (a service and sales performance management solution), also in 2011.
VP Portfolio Management at NICE Systems Ofer Razon told us that while Big Data is a relatively new concept, "We've been in the big data business for years." By that he means that NICE has been taking unstructured data, e.g., text from chats and emails and audio data from recordings, and analyzing it to provide insights that can improve operations in the contact center.
While there is plenty that NICE can do with contact center data alone, they realized that to extend the benefits of cross-channel analysis they needed to be able to analyze a broader set of channels, especially e-channels (which includes web and mobile purchasing). They also wanted to integrate unstructured interaction data with structured transactional data, in order to help businesses identify both best practices and broken processes that impact the way brands engage and converse with their customers.
An example of the value of the combination of interaction and transaction data would be a customer who calls into the contact center. Knowing that a customer had a chat with an agent last week about a sweater is interesting information in order to predict the reason for the customer's call, and how to route them. Knowing that their retail charge card bill was mailed 2 days ago, however, may be a better indicator of why the customer is calling.
After looking at several solutions, NICE chose to partner with IBM, a "leading suite vendor in the Big Data domain." According to Razon, NICE wanted to use the best Big Data infrastructure. He compared the IBM choice to the fact that companies don't build their own databases anymore; they use Oracle.
Razon also mentioned that he believes that NICE and IBM "complete each other," i.e., create a comprehensive offer. He highlighted IBM's recent acquisition of Tealeaf Technology, a provider of digital customer experience management and customer behavior analysis solutions, as proof that this is a market that IBM is intent on penetrating.
In addition to the product integration, Razon said that IBM and NICE have a joint Go-To-Market strategy for this Big Data for customer interactions solution. NICE will initially target existing customers, most of which are large (2,000+ agent) contact centers. What will be challenging, however, is taking the solution to the decision makers outside the contact center who can also use it: marketing executives (for voice-of-the-customer initiatives), compliance departments (for fraud protection) and sales executives (to gain greater insight into sales opportunities.)