Dreamforce 2013: Contact Center Announcements
Aspect and Genesys use the huge Salesforce.com event to make a pair of announcements.
For those of us in tech, Dreamforce has become a must-see event, perhaps eclipsing the Vegas Consumer Electronics Show for the business-to-business crowd. As an analyst who follows the contact center space, it's a great place to not only hear the latest and greatest from CEO Marc Benioff and the Salesforce team, but also to meet and greet many contact center application providers. This year that includes three of the four Magic Quadrant leaders (Cisco, Genesys, and Interactive Intelligence), several of the cloud-only contact center solution companies (e.g., Five9, inContact, Liveops, NewVoiceMedia) as well as Aspect Software and ShoreTel. Perhaps conspicuous by their absence? Avaya, who chose in 2013 to participate (instead?) at Oracle's OpenWorld event.
While I'm sure there are more to come, on Tuesday, two contact center solution market leaders chose Dreamforce as the place to launch new cloud-based solutions. The Aspect announcement came across the wire first, so I'll start with that. I see the mark of CMO Jim Freeze on the naming of Zipwire, which Aspect is so excited about it has its own website, zipwire.aspect.com. A 30-day, try-and-buy introduction (up to 10 seats) is available to select North American customers to experience the solution's described simplicity (similar to Interactive Intelligence's Quick Spin program).
One attractive feature of Zipwire will be its "unlimited upward and downward scalability." While detailed analyst briefings were not yet held, that speaks to a multi-tenant platform, not multi-instance like Cisco and Interactive Intelligence. General availability of Zipwire is scheduled for January 2014 in the U.S. and Canada, and a global rollout is set to begin in the second quarter 2014.
The second announcement was from Genesys. Back in June 2013, I wrote on No Jitter that Genesys was describing their cloud portfolio as having two components: Genesys Platform on Demand and Solutions on Demand. Based on a briefing I had with Genesys CMO Reed Henry, it appears the "platform on demand" nomenclature has been abandoned in favor of three editions based on a common Genesys Customer Experience Platform. The Enterprise Edition is the easiest to identify--it's a tweaking of the Echopass offer, relying more and more on Genesys-owned software.
The Premier Edition owes much to the Virtual Contact Center from the Angel acquisition, now taking advantage of the Genesys platform. Not mentioned in the press release is Premier Edition SFDC Service Cloud, which replaces and extends last year's Genesys Connect solution. I asked Henry about the seemingly counterintuitive naming, Premier, for a small edition solution. He replied that Genesys looked for a name that would denote a strong solution, not a basic one, a solution that is best-in-class for that market segment.
Finally, the Business Edition is a renaming and extension of last year's Genesys One, described at that time as a mid-market solution. Today it becomes a cloud offer in addition to being available via CPE and hybrid models. (The Genesys One brand will continue for the time being in international markets, where it has some traction.)
One of the interesting elements of "extending" the existing solutions is the addition of a pre-integrated call and screen recording as a core Genesys capability. This comes from the Angel acquisition and replaces an OEM that Genesys has had with Zoom for several years. Another, almost surprising element, is Genesys' announcement that the CPE version of Business Edition will be available only as an appliance, consisting of VMWare images delivered on Dell boxes. Two appliance sizes were discussed, supporting 1-100 and 100-300 seats.
While there are certainly product components of the Genesys announcement, there is also a strong marketing element. They have created a single portfolio message that encompasses capabilities from the four acquisitions made this year. I look forward to learning more about the "hybrid" capabilities as well as understanding better the routing simplification that is part of the Premier and Business Editions. The key to Genesys future growth is Premier and Business Edition. Genesys and Echopass have already proved they can deliver Enterprise Edition.