inContact and NICE: Post-Acquisition Plan Unveiled
Five product initiatives aim to put inContact at the same level as enterprise-caliber contact center solutions from the biggest competitors.
What a difference three and a half months can make. NICE Systems announced its acquisition of inContact on May 18. Genesys announced the Interactive Intelligence acquisition on Aug. 31. Genesys and inContact this month held annual user events one week after the other, with a marked difference in the amount of information each could share about plans for their respective soon-to-be combined entities.
At G-Force, held Oct. 4 to 6, Genesys CEO Paul Segre spoke briefly about post-acquisition plans, saying only that it would use products from both portfolios to address the needs of different market segments. No Interactive Intelligence executives were in attendance and, in fact, some major Genesys executives (e.g., President Tom Eggemeier) were absent as well as they're said to be working full time on integration planning. Those execs who were at G-Force deferred most questions about post-acquisition strategy.
At the annual inContact User Conference (ICUC), held Oct. 11 to 13, CEO Paul Jarman offered a fairly complete view of the company's plans and its solutions once the acquisition by NICE is complete. The work of 11 integration teams -- five led by NICE staff and six by inContact -- is done, Jarman said. And Eran Liron, NICE executive vice president, marketing and corporate development, was on hand to present during a daylong analyst meeting, from the keynote stage, and in a breakout session in the conference's executive track.
As shown in the graphic, inContact will become a new division of NICE, and Liron responded unequivocally when asked about the future of the inContact brand: "We believe inContact is a very strong brand for the market that it is serving. We also think it is a smart brand. Our cloud offering -- a full contact center -- will continue to be inContact."
From a product perspective, the plan is best described as "make the inContact solution enterprise-ready." Before moving to the specifics, let me note that inContact has plenty of customers you could easily classify as "enterprise." During the analyst meeting, Jarman said the company has "a lot of 1,000 to 2,000 seat customers," some of which he named but I can't share publicly. One I can mention, the largest inContact customer, is LanguageLine Solutions (recently acquired by BPO TelePerformance). It has 8,000 licensed agents.
Taking the inContact solution to the next level implies getting it ready to be the cloud choice of a typical NICE customer... which may have tens of thousands of agents using NICE workforce optimization (WFO) solutions. To be prepared to be a viable alternative to the premises contact center leaders -- i.e., Avaya, Genesys or Cisco -- Jarman outlined these five product initiatives:
- Omnichannel Routing with Context - While inContact has added email, chat, and SMS to its solution over the past few years, context has been the purview of the larger players.
- Analytics and Performance-Driven Routing - The intent is to go beyond sending interactions to the most idle agent or the one with a certain skill to the use of complex algorithms to maximize business outcomes based on real-time information about both the agent and the customer.
- Advanced Self-Service - While the inContact solution has adequate IVR capability, the plan is to enhance this functionality -- especially as it relates to media channels other than voice.
- Workforce Intelligence - With the ability to tightly integrate the contact center and WFO solutions, inContact envisions offering contact center managers and administrators a new level of workforce performance analysis.
- Persona-Based Experience - Like others in the enterprise communications space, inContact recognizes the need to bring simplicity and ease of use to the user experience.
Jarman closed both his comments to the industry analysts and his keynote presentation to customers discussing low debt, what he called "perhaps the most important aspect of the NICE acquisition." While NICE will acquire inContact for approximately $940 million, the total debt of the combined entity will be just $300 million. This is in sharp contrast to other contact center leaders, owned by private equity firms, that have billions of dollars of debt.