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Siemens Goes Out(bound)

Out is in. Siemens Enterprise Group (SEN) announced two new customer interaction applications, OpenScape Contact Center Unity (OSCC Unity) and OpenScape Contact Center Campaign Director (OSCC Campaign Director), providing outbound and blended inbound/outbound capabilities. SEN also added a Blending Module, providing integrated administration for outbound/inbound call blending to Siemens' Enterprise and Genesys contact center solutions (Siemens offers Genesys solutions for very large and complex enterprise deployments).These new products offer contact center optimization, outbound predictive dialing, and campaign and list management. Siemens has long had a relatively strong inbound contact center focus, but based on products from SER Solutions, which the Gores Group also acquired and integrated with the Siemens portfolio, SEN now has outbound capabilities to add to its newly-named OpenScape Contact Center Solutions portfolio (formerly called HiPath ProCenter).

OCC Unity is an all-in-one application aimed at campaign/claims for collections, healthcare, financial services and insurance. It provides inbound/outbound agent-less IVR (to automate payment or claims details), audio and video monitoring from manager desktop; full-time digital audio recording, multi-tier routing routines, and CTI Screen-pop with synchronized scripting and customer data on each call.

OSCC Campaign Director is an outbound application for campaign management, predictive dialing, proactive contact, and agentless IVR, aimed at large volume outbound contact centers or inbound centers looking to add proactive contact.

It's nice to see Siemens expanding its contact center portfolio, although the sad part is that I expect Siemens and other vendors offering similar outbound capabilities to be increasingly successful based on today's economic realities. Among the very few areas that are actually growing in today's economy are collections and outbound campaigns from debt consolidation and debt counseling companies, credit card companies, and other similar types of organizations. Unfortunately, outbound collection calls are on the rise, and we are seeing an increase in outbound calls from start ups taking advantage of the economic situation by offering debt consolidation or counseling services, among other things, and bombarding people with their outbound marketing campaigns.

Today's economy offers some unique opportunities, and Siemens notes that there's an unprecedented focus on increasing customer revenue and retention, often with fewer resources allocated, and that proactive contact is key to increasing customer satisfaction. By implementing the OCCS Campaign Director product, companies can leverage capabilities like proactive agent-less (IVR) contact, enabling the organization to maintain customer satisfaction levels when faced with workforce reductions. In addition, inbound contact centers can use proactive contact to reduce the volume of inbound calls and reduce costs by proactively notifying customers of things like billing changes, thus pre-empting inbound calls. SEN's new blending option for OpenScape Contact Center Enterprise lets companies leverage inbound agents for outbound calls when needed, resulting in reduced costs. SEN notes that the new blending module keeps inbound agents focused on inbound calls but makes them available for outbound dialing when needed.

I was very pleased to see Siemens making progress with its contact center offerings, enhancing its inbound capabilities while adding new outbound functionality. SER's software-based workforce management, quality management, contact management, and speech analytics solutions have found a good home in the SEN portfolio. While I'm not an advocate of annoying telemarketing and outbound calls, unfortunately there's a need for them, and Siemens can finally take part in this growing (ugh) market.