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Lync in the Contact Center?

I have to thank Matt Brunk for his quite unintentional lead-in to my first post of 2012. His Understanding Lync did not prompt this piece but offers great context, as does Dave Michels' piece in late December, Lync Licensing: Effective Confusion.

What did prompt this story is a press release by WorkSpace Communications and AltiGen that they were partnering to deliver a hosted contact center solution for Microsoft Lync. One year into general availability, the contact center choices of potential Lync customers remains somewhat limited. Seven contact center vendors have announced interoperability of their solutions with Lync: Altigen, Aspect, Clarity Connect, ComputerTalk, Interactive Intelligence, prairieFyre and Zeacom. In conversations with several of these companies, it seems that the number of deployments on Lync remains low. In fact many implementations are best classified as in the pilot stage.

Why then a hosted contact center solution for Lync? WorkSpace CEO Bryan DiGiorgio says the success of the company's hosted Lync UC offer led to the need for a more robust contact center solution. Month over month, the company has seen a rise in the size of customers looking at hosted Lync, from sub-50 seat opportunities initially to several in the 100-150-seat size and others as high as 500-800 seats. In the larger line sizes, WorkSpace found that the Lync Response Group feature didn't provide enough contact center functionality. Partnering with Altigen allows WorkSpace to support bigger customers.

Because the WorkSpace/Altigen contact center is hosted doesn't mean it is multi-tenant. As is often true with cloud-based offers today, the Altigen solution will be deployed by WorkSpace as single instances in a virtualized environment.

David Tang, VP for Service Provider Sales & Marketing at Altigen, explains that the company's MaxACD Unified Contact Center for Lync is a good fit for departmental contact centers. Unlike some contact center solutions for Lync (e.g., Aspect Contact, prairieFyre and Clarity Connect), MaxACD does not run directly natively on Lync but instead communicates with Lync over the Unified Communications Managed API (UCMA). This is similar to the approach taken with Aspect Unified IP 7’s Lync integration as well as by Interactive Intelligence and Zeacom.

One year after Microsoft made Lync generally available there are a wide variety of contact center solutions available for companies ready to take the plunge, from small voice-only applications like Altigen's MaxACD to highly scalable solutions from market leaders, both hosted and premises-based. But is Lync moving into the contact center? Slowly. It seems it is still is a little too early to say surely.