Enterprise Connect 2013 Contact Center News

Given the combination of yesterday's packed house for the first contact center session of Enterprise Connect and the number of companies that are making contact center announcements at the show, I reiterate the comment I made to kick off yesterday's Contact Center Market Update session: Move over UC.

Some of the announcements made yesterday and today include:

* Interactive Intelligence announced CaaS Small Center. After several years of growing success in the mid-to-large sized contact center market, this new solution seems squarely aimed at the cloud-only contact center companies that have seen success in the under-50 agent space. Instead of ceding that part of the market to a competitor, Interactive Intelligence has streamlined its offer, created attractive pricing (voice-only for $99 a month, including recording), and asks for no long term commitment.

Offered as a month-to month-service, with the option of one-year terms for pricing stability, many but not all of the core capabilities of CIC are available in the Small Center offer. Available for an additional monthly fee are real-time speech recognition, tight Salesforce.com integration and multi-channel support. Not available without upgrade to the full CIC platform are features typically required by much larger centers, e.g., workforce management and predictive dialing.

* Contact center plays a prominent role in Avaya's broader announcement, Avaya Collaborative Cloud. Two different contact center offers are included; the first is CCaaS, which allows partners to deliver Avaya's Elite Multichannel solution as a service. A service provider edition of Avaya Control Manager enables multi-tenancy with a centralized management and administrative segmentation tool. The second offer is Avaya Communications Outsourcing Solutions (COS) Express, a standardized private cloud offer that can be hosted by Avaya, a CSP or channel partner for the end customer. The first edition of COS Express focuses on contact center deployments for businesses with up to 500 concurrent agents. It too uses Avaya Control Manager.

The big difference between CCaaS and COS is that with COS, Avaya is essentially saying that if there is no partner available or willing to become available to host contact center services for a customer who wants the Avaya solution, Avaya will host that service directly to the customer. While the overall strategy is to deliver through partners, Avaya Senior Director for Cloud Strategy and Products Paiman Nodoushani said, "On the contact center side, we don't want to lose any seats. We will stand up a solution in an Avaya data center and offer service directly if there is no viable partner."

* Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise and Altitude Software have announced a partnership where Altitude's uCI solution becomes part of the ALU-E contact center portfolio as OpenTouch Customer Service (OTCS). The solution is positioned between OpenTouch Standard Edition, for those with simple voice-only ACD requirements, and the Genesys suite, which continues to be sold for customers with customized, sophisticated needs.

There's still plenty of contact center content coming at Enterprise Connect. The Contact Center Cloud Offerings session is Wednesday afternoon at 2:30 pm, and Thursday at 8 am is a session on Emerging Tools for the Contact Center: Social and Analytics. Hope to see you there!

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