You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2012.

A look at Enghouse Interactive’s Products page shows it is not the easiest of companies to understand. Listed are six products – companies actually – that make up the parent: Arc Solutions, CosmoCom, Datapulse, Synellect, TelRex and Trio. As yet this list doesn’t include the latest acquisition, Zeacom. All the businesses in some way connect to multichannel communications and the contact center, with products that range, respectively, from communication management systems for Cisco, a cloud-based contact center, unified communications applications that improve collaboration between employees within an organization, a premises-based multichannel contact center, IP call recording and workforce management, and telephony systems, with Zeacom adding a cloud-based unified communications system based on Microsoft Lync.

Since Enghouse Systems Ltd. was formed in 1984 as a software and service company, the company has pursued an aggressive acquisition strategy but has largely left the companies it acquires to operate as independent businesses. This strategy serves Enghouse Interactive’s objective to provide systems that support organizations as they come to grips with customer interactions that arrive through an increasing number of communication channels. My research into cloud-based contact centers shows that this is no easy task; companies today support around five interaction channels, and the number is rising with the introduction of chat, text-based messages and social media.  The research also shows that many companies see cloud-based systems as the answer, so it is no surprise that Enghouse Interactive makes several of these systems available in the cloud.

The primary example is CosmoCom. CosmoCall Universe is an all-in-one, multimedia, multichannel (telephone, video, email, text, IM and collaboration) contact center suite, which includes ACD, IVR, video-based IVR and interaction recording. It also supports intelligent interaction routing, as all interaction types, regardless of media, are placed in a single queue and routed based on the same rules. Single-queue interaction routing is supported by CosmoDesigner, which is an easy-to-use graphical tool that allows users to build interaction flows by dragging and dropping icons into a flow diagram, which is then converted to routing rules.  The product includes an agent desktop, web-based administration, performance dashboards and a full set of reports.  It is all IP-based, built to be highly scalable, and supports multitenancy architecture.  These last three capabilities make it ideal for CosmoCom’s primary market, which is telecom service providers and large outsourcing companies that run the software as the basis for on-demand contact center services. For example, British Telecom’s Next Generation Contact Center (NGCC) is a network-hosted contact center that allows BT to offer its customers contact center services that are fully under the control of the customer because the platform is multitenant – each customer can administer the service as if it were their own.

Enghouse’s Syntellect CIM product includes capabilities similar to those of CosmoCom but aimed at the on-premises market. It offers unified multichannel interaction management (inbound and outbound voice, email, fax, SMS, social media and chat), intelligent routing, an agent desktop, recording and a comprehensive set of reports, plus post-call surveys and a complete searchable customer interaction history called iVault. Intelligent routing is achieved by converting all interactions to tasks, which are then managed from a single queue based on one set of rules. Rules can include agent profiles, so that interactions can be routed on more than agent skills; for example, they could be routed to the agent with the best success rate at handling a particular type of interaction. They also include predefined escalation rules so that tasks can be raised in priority. The architecture is highly scalable, distributed and designed to be fault-tolerant, with built-in redundancy at multiple levels. Although aimed at on-premises installations, the platform can be offered as a cloud-based, but not fully multitenant, system.

The Zeacom acquisition adds another multichannel contact center platform to the portfolio. The Zeacom platform includes a workflow engine and capabilities to support business process automation – two major differentiators that support companies’ efforts to redefine their multichannel interaction handling processes. It is based on the Microsoft Lync platform, and so offers unified communications and collaboration capabilities.

In CosmoCom, Syntellect and Zeacom, Enghouse Interactive has made three acquisitions with very similar top-line capabilities but several lower-level variations. The question this raises is where this is all heading. More acquisitions to buy more market share? Not so, I was told. The long-term objective is to rationalize the portfolio to create a full-featured cloud-based interaction management platform that maximizes the relationships with Cisco and Microsoft. The company therefore continues to invest in product development across all three platforms, along with more technology-based partnerships and an ecosystem of partners to provide sales and services around the globe.

Enghouse Interactive is company to watch, with some interesting products that, if successful, will match up to the way our research suggests the interaction management market is moving.

Regards,

Richard J. Snow

VP & Research Director

VPI, a well established vendor in the workforce optimization (WFO) space, was recently rated as a Hot vendor in the Ventana Research Agent Performance Management 2012 Value Index, which extends the traditional definition of WFO to include multichannel interaction capture, agent-related analytics, and agent compensation management. VPI’s Hot rating is a tribute to the functionality and architecture of its suite, even though it doesn’t include a WFM product (instead, workforce management is supported through integration with a number of the specialist WFM products) or compensation management.

The latest release from VPI does however support multichannel interaction capture, and its analytics capabilities have been enhanced and the architecture tweaked to support higher levels of scalability and performance. Every module within the suite now has embedded analytics, which deliver more than 150 standard metrics, many of which are produced in real time. They can be visualized as part of the agent desktop to help drive self-improvement, scorecards and other reports, all of which can be customized to individual user requirements. They can also be used to trigger alerts and workflow, allowing companies to link analytics with other processes such as quality monitoring, eLearning and coaching, and thus drive actions and performance improvement through a better understanding of agents’ performance against key metrics. Further analytics enhancements are in the pipeline.

VPI has evolved the product architecture into what it calls a hub and spoke model to make the product highly scalable. Functionality such as call recording can be distributed over several sites; for example, calls to and from branch offices can be recorded at the main office location without the need for servers in each branch.

VPI also continues to grow its third-party relationships, which enables it to provide additional capabilities and support other models for service delivery. The Ventana Research benchmark into likely adoption of cloud-based contact centers shows that companies are looking to this type of deployment to help resolve cost, functionality and integration issues as they enhance their centers. With this in mind, VPI has established an OEM-style deal with NEXXPHASE so that it can provided cloud-based contact center services through the integration of VPI, the Pipkins workforce management product, and intraday day agent management and eLearning from Knowlagent.

VPI has branched out into a new space and is now providing what it calls a virtual call center agent, which is a cloud-based software based service that uses voice recognition to solve customer issues instead of having customers talk to live agents. The system can be programmed to follow a defined process, driven by customer voice input. The beauty of the system is that it follows the same process over and over again, learning along the way, so customer issues are resolved more quickly and consistently over time. I am pleased to report that despite my and other people’s doubts about how customers would react to another type of automated service, VPI told me that it now has several customers, and the system is being accepted by their customers, and is delivering business benefits.

The contact center and customer service markets are developing quicker today than at any other period I have experienced during my time covering the industry. VPI continues to invest in its product portfolio to meet these growing demands as I have noted that VPI is making contact centers simpler to operate. As our Value Index finds, it is a vendor to not just watch but evaluate.

Regards,

Richard J. Snow

VP & Research Director

RSS Richard Snow’s Analyst Perspectives at Ventana Research

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

Twitter Updates

Stats

  • 68,536 hits
%d bloggers like this: