Aspect Social 1.0...or 2.0?
The company has partnered with social CRM industry leader Lithium to resell that company's Social Web solution to Aspect customers and prospects.
About 18 months ago, Aspect issued a press release: Aspect Brings Social Media into the Contact Center, and a solution called Aspect Social Media Channel Integration. I remember because not only was I quoted in the press release, I wrote about the announcement here on No Jitter. This week, Aspect Software issued another press release, announcing what it refers to internally as Aspect Social 1.0. So what is the difference between the two offers and why might 1.0 be a fair nomenclature?
The 2011 Aspect Social Media Channel Integration solution sought to manage social media interactions that were identified by third-party social media monitoring tools customers had to have in place. Aspect's software would take tweets or Facebook entries identified by Radian 6, Buzzient, Lithium, etc. and queue, route and report on them in the contact center. Aspect admits that though they had customers express interest in bringing social media into the contact center, oftentimes these customers did not have a social monitoring or listening tool in place. As a result, the Aspect social media solution has never been deployed.
Aspect addresses the issue of identifying the social interactions to be handled in the contact center with Aspect Social 1.0. The company has partnered with social customer relationship management industry leader Lithium to resell that company's Social Web solution to Aspect customers and prospects. The partnership has a level of exclusivity; Aspect will be the only contact center solution provider to OEM the Lithium solution.
Why has Lithium struck this exclusive distribution arrangement with Aspect? Lithium has great use cases that span the sales, marketing and service areas. According to Aspect CMO Jim Freeze, Lithium sees Aspect's domain expertise in the contact center, and undoubtedly its significant customer base and sales force, as a way to jump start sales in a new area.
This may be Aspect's second foray into social media interaction management, but they are hoping it is just the beginning of a fruitful relationship with Lithium. While today there are only "light" integrations to existing Aspect solutions (e.g., historical data can be used to help create agent schedules with workforce management), there are plans to tighten the integration over time.
One attribute of the Lithium product worthy of note is that it is delivered via the cloud. At the same time Aspect is attempting to make some noise in the social media space, it is asking its sales force and partners to sell an add-on cloud service. Similar to social, Aspect has made earlier, yet-to-be-successful forays into cloud-based offerings. As mentioned in the Top Contact Center Stories of 2012, Aspect begins 2013 with a new slate of executives. With this announcement, they're clearly trying to start the New Year off with some noise.