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Aspect Highlights New Microsoft Integration at Customer Event

Aspect shows off a renewed vigor, including a new co-CEO and a broader-than-Lync Microsoft integration message.

This week, Aspect held its first user event in three years. Like the economic doldrums that likely led to virtual events since 2008, Aspect too is re-emerging in 2012 with a renewed vigor, including a new co-CEO and a broader-than-Lync Microsoft integration message.

Earlier this month, Aspect named former IBM and Avaya executive Mohamad Ali to the newly created role of CEO of the workforce optimization division. Current CEO Jim Foy became CEO of the interaction management division and assumed the role of Executive Chairman of Aspect's Board of Directors.

Why the change? During his opening remarks here, Foy commented that Aspect has a renewed Interest in the workforce optimization space, admitting, "It's fair to say we have neglected it in the past." That's not surprising given the re-calibration of the Aspect business towards Microsoft, and specifically Lync, that has occupied the company for the past few years. The addition of Ali means they now have senior executive focus on two very important elements of the portfolio.

Speaking with Ali this week, I was impressed with the passion he is bringing to the new role. Prior to Avaya, Ali was VP of Business Development & Strategy for IBM's Information Management Division. There he managed the acquisition and integrations of several companies, including Cognos and FileNet. Think analytics (Cognos) and business process management (FileNet), two hot topics in the contact center space. Ali's experience with these two areas is right in line with the major product announcement made by Aspect at the show, Aspect Applications Foundation.

Ali confirmed my impressions that Aspect Applications Foundation (AAF) is functionally similar to Avaya's Agile Communications Environment (ACE). As seen in the marketecture diagram, AAF helps tie together Aspect interaction management and workforce optimization solutions with not only Microsoft Lync but SharePoint and Dynamics as well. The result is an ability to create customer-specific solutions that solve the same kind of customer problems that two competitors in particular are addressing with Interaction Process Automation (Interactive Intelligence) and Genesys intelligent Workload Distribution. The difference is that Aspect is taking a decidedly Microsoft-centric (but not exclusive) approach and has 100+ headcount from its 2010 Quilogy acquisition to help create and deploy the solutions.