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Part II: The Battle for Contact Center Leadership
Last week, in the first part of this series, I opened with a selection of tweets from a Cisco contact center analyst day. Avaya held a similar meeting this week, also in a key contact center development location, Denver. Those who were watching will have noticed that there were fewer tweets from the Avaya meeting. Unlike the Cisco session where only one session during the day was classified as non-disclosure (NDA), Avaya applied the NDA "cloak of silence" to four of the day's seven sessions and to a portion of the slides in the remaining presentations as well.
That said, there were still a number of interesting tweets that came out of the day, and a particularly interesting re-tweet and comment from one of the Avaya speakers.
* Bartolo We want to open up innovation, so we have embraced SIP. We think SIP is going to be a must-have in 18-24 months (McGeeSmith)
* Of the 1300 Avaya consultants, roughly 2 contact center specialists to 1 enterprise specialist ratio. (Daniel Hong, Ovum)
* Avaya Voice Portal becomes Avaya Experience Portal -> it's the multimedia capabilities (Ian Jacobs, Ovum re-tweeting Daniel Hong)
* Got SIP? According to Avaya "CTI is getting in the way of innovation and growth" (Daniel Hong)
* Avaya Professional Services: We've hired people who understand the Cisco ICM--"Because we are removing so many ICMs" :-) (Ajay Kapoor re-tweet of McGeeSmith)
The re-tweet comment, from Avaya's Managing Director Strategic Communications Consulting, underscores the message from last week's blog. There is a battle going on and it is far from one-sided. The comment on "replacing ICMs" is a reference to a heritage Geotel solution, circa 1997, that continues to be used by an estimated 500 companies (that's an Avaya estimate, but it passes the red face test). Geotel ICM was an overlay solution for providing network-level routing and/or CTI for large multi-site contact centers. Large here refers to companies that might have as many as 40,000 to 50,000 agents in tens of sites globally.
ICM worked in concert with locally deployed ACDs. Estimates vary, but given that Avaya owns about 40 percent of the contact center market, it's safe to assume that Geotel was deployed as an overlay to an Avaya Call Center Elite pretty often. And there are likely a fair percentage of Nortel contact centers operating with ICM for enterprise routing or CTI as well.
Cisco is hoping to replace those Avaya and Nortel ACDs with Unified Contact Center Enterprise--their story is that ICM is already a key component of UCCE, minimizing migration headaches. Avaya's story is that with Avaya Aura Session Manager, multiple centers can be aggregated over SIP without the need for ICM. They are looking to replace ICM with an Avaya application for routing calls to multiple locations, Intelligent Customer Routing.
In a discussion with David Butler, Avaya Contact Center Director for Solution Architecture, I commented that Cisco and Avaya seem to be concentrating their marketing and product development on a relatively small number of customers. He replied that very large customers are driving innovation for the rest of the market. There seems to be logic there.
What both Cisco and Avaya agree on is that these large contact centers don’t need solutions from both companies--that each has a complete solution. The "spanner in the works?" Genesys also has a solution that could replace an ICM/Avaya-Nortel combo, so this not a two-horse race.
Why will those 500 companies be looking to make a change over the next 18-24 months? They are currently paying massive maintenance and professional services costs for a solution that could be simplified with current technology. Game on.