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Genesys & Cisco in the Contact Center
Sheila McGee-Smith's post "Coopetition in the Age of SIP" (Feb. 10, 2010) addressed the recent collaboration between rivals Genesys and Cisco. Why, exactly, are enterprises calling for Genesys and Cisco to create a partnership for a contact center solution? Three simple reasons:1) Lower Costs--Getting rid of legacy contact center ACD and the expensive maintenance costs. Numerous companies bet on Cisco for phone and deployed it throughout the enterprise, except in the contact center.
2) Best of Breed--Genesys has a robust contact center solution. For large enterprises and hosted solutions, Cisco falls short with their contact center offering.
3) Adopting SIP--As SIP continues to gain momentum, it offers a standard way to integrate different communication platforms: Microsoft for OCS/presence and messaging, Cisco for networking and phones, and Genesys for contact center.
By integrating Microsoft, Cisco, and Genesys, an enterprise can offer a full Unified Communications suite, both in the front and back office. In the foreseeable future, it does not look like one vendor will be able to offer a complete UC suite, thus large enterprises and CaaS providers must continue to integrate various products. If enterprises can get their strategic vendors to work together, it will decrease the enterprise's workload toward the goal of implementing and supporting of UC solutions.
Why are large enterprises choosing to use Genesys in the contact center versus Cisco? Genesys offers the following advantages:
1) Multi-Channel--Genesys offers an integrated multi-channel solution that supports web, voice, chat, and email. Cisco started down the path of using Webline, then they partnered with eGain, and now there are some discussions of using Webex. Bottom line: Cisco does not have a fully integrated, multi-channel solution with seamless reporting across channels.
2) Single Administrative Interface--In the Genesys 8 suite, there is a single Eclipse-based IDE for administrating complete contact setup-IVR/email/Web/Chat, Routing, CTI, Workflow, Reporting, etc. This helps create a unified view of customer interactions across multiple channels over time. Cisco purchased multiple products to build their contact center solution, with each platform having its own proprietary interface-an arrangement that significantly increases the administrative complexity and support of their solution.
3) Workflow--As communication becomes more multi-channel and asynchronous, an enterprise needs to handle customer inquiries based on multiple interactions across multiple channels over a span of time. To offer consistency and efficiency, business processes need to incorporate information and communication. Genesys offers this in their Integrated Workflow Distribution suite, while Cisco has yet to go down this path. Cisco has done some BPM integration with their WebEx product line.
4) Full Suite--Genesys has their own Work Force Management product and is partnering with Zoom for call recording. Thus, Genesys offers a full contact center solution. One standout feature of their WFM product is the ability to make a routing decision based on someone's schedule. If a call comes in, and two agents are available, then it can route it to the agent who is not about to go on break or end their shift. Genesys' Career Builder and knowledge management applications are also slick.
For a while, Cisco was ahead in their front and back office integration through their Expert Agent product that allowed contact center agents to locate the right resource for very specific questions/issues. Genesys will launch their second release for OCS integration in July that will help integrate contact center agents with back office agents, creating valuable parity.
One indication that Cisco is not aggressively pursuing the large enterprise and hosted service provider contact center market is their lack of certification in the space. Cisco offers a "Cisco IP Contact Center Express" certification, but this is an entirely different platform meant for smaller organizations with basic call center requirements.
Time will tell what how well Genesys and Cisco will collaborate. Most likely, Genesys' software will displace Cisco offerings in the large contact center environment with Cisco supplying the network and phones and Genesys providing the software and business value in the contact center. A similar trend is occurring in the SMB market with Interactive Intelligence aggressively pursuing business process automation and building out a complete UC software suite while partnering with others for the base infrastructure.