Aspect Software Fills the Skies

A series of events – a new management team, the purchase of Voxeo, and the Southwest Airlines win in 2013 – have put Aspect back in the game. And they are out there telling their story.

I take my title from today's press release from Aspect, which finishes ..."with Cloud-Based Contact Center Deployment Solution." While the statement certainly has more than a touch of hyperbole, it underscores one of the primary drivers in the contact center space today – being able to deploy a full suite of solutions in the cloud and demonstrating customer adoption.

On closer examination – and through benefit of a discussion with Aspect's SVP and GM for Cloud Solutions Joe Gagnon – the title also demonstrates the morphing of the term cloud to include what has long been known as managed services. The solutions announced today are:

Aspect Hosted, described by the company as an alternative cloud deployment option for the Aspect Unified IP and the Aspect Workforce Optimization suite. It is essentially a single tenant solution hosted in Aspect data centers. Aspect tells me that the solution will be available globally in Q4, with initial data centers in the U.S., U.K., and Germany. All of the U.S., Canada, Europe, and LATAM are expected to be aligned with these initial data center locations. There is a roadmap to rollout additional data centers as market opportunity dictates.

Aspect Managed Services, designed, "for customers who want to garner the cost and operational benefits of hosting, while still deploying in their own data center." It is no secret that some of the biggest brands in the world have used Aspect solutions - call routing, predictive dialing or workforce management - for literally decades. Customers include most of the largest banks in the world, as well as global consumer and technology brands. According to Gagnon, these types of companies, "the guys that operate at scale, are still skeptical of cloud."

Aspect Proactive Monitoring and Management, included with Aspect Managed Services, provides 24X7 operational management on Aspect contact center and workforce optimization suite solutions deployed in customer data centers.

Everything old is new again. When I started in this business in the 1980s, there were actually two kinds of Centrex: CO and CU. CO was what most people think of as Centrex, deployed in a central office. With Centrex-CU, the "dial apparatus is located on the subscriber's premises (text from an old telco tariff)." Even in the hey-day of Centrex, there were businesses that did not want to have their dial-tone and routing controlled from a third-party location.

Avaya – who like Aspect has a number of very significant contact center customers of long-standing – has taken a similar path with its cloud portfolio. The always questionably-named "Avaya Operations Services" has become Avaya Private Cloud Services and addresses a customer need similar to Aspect Managed Services. Both have the goal of helping companies with years of legacy equipment, software, and customization migrate to not just a cleaner technical solution but one that enables a more coordinated experience for their customers.

What's interesting is that many of the companies that Aspect and Avaya are addressing with these managed, private cloud solutions are the same companies. Two-plus years ago, Aspect might not have been given the opportunity to be the one vendor to transform a Fortune 50 organization's contact center operation – Avaya, Cisco and Genesys were thought to be the only viable options. As Gagnon told me, these customers trust one side of the business (ACD, dialer or WFM) and often "haven't been told the whole story." But a series of events – a new management team, the purchase of Voxeo, and the Southwest Airlines win in 2013 – have put Aspect back in the game. And they are out there telling their story.

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