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Our benchmark research on the contact center in the cloud shows vr_types_of_interactions_in_contact_centerthat today organizations have to support more channels of interaction with their customers in order to provide superior customer service. This places pressure on companies to find systems that provide integrated management of communications channels at affordable prices, are easily managed and accessible with the skills their employees have, and above all meet the needs of the business.

Corvisa Cloud recently briefed me on how it supports such capabilities. The first thing I learned about was its unique origin. Its parent, Novation Companies, has three subsidiaries that provide contact center services, and like many other companies they all were having trouble keeping up with the demands of their customers. To address this, Novation spent a large amount of money building a new cloud-based platform based on the needs of the three sister companies. It proved so successful that it launched a new company, Corvisa Cloud, at the end of 2012, to provide services to the general market. The new company was built on the ethos of the founders, which is based on finding out the business needs of companies and providing services that match those needs.

During its early days of operation, Corvisa Cloud determined that companies need an integrated platform that combines back-office PBX capabilities, contact center-specific, multichannel communications management and integration with salesforce.com applications. It found that companies typically had a separate PBX for basic call management for back-office business units and an independent system to meet contact center requirements. However, it also found evidence similar to findings of my contact center in the cloud benchmark research showing that more business units are handling customer interactions, making an integrated solution more compelling. Furthermore, both back offices and contact centers are heavy users of CRM, increasingly from salesforce.com, so Corvisa Cloud decided to combine PBX and contact center capabilities and integrate them with salesforce.com. It has gone one step further than vendors with similar integration features by adding functionality that takes data from salesforce.com, imports it into the Corvisa Cloud platform and uses it to automate more functions, such as targeted outbound marketing campaigns. On top of the overall platform, Corvisa has built a reporting and analysis system that can take data from any internal source, combine it with data extracted from other sources – on-premises or in the cloud – and produce real-time reports and analysis that can be tailored to individual user requirements. This in itself provides a business advantage in that users can see a fuller picture of customer interaction-handling.

The company targets centers of all sizes but especially smaller ones, up to 750 seats. Typically these centers distribute more interactions (something my research shows is happening more often), are salesforce.com customers and are either startups without the cash or skills to build an on-premises system or companies that have on-premises systems that are reaching the end of their life. Corvisa Cloud customers can work closely with the Corvisa professional services team to define their business needs, and Corvisa then will tailor a solution to those requirements. The system currently doesn’t contain a lot of bells and whistles but is functionally rich enough that it can be tailored to meet most business needs, at prices more companies can afford.

The contact center in the cloud market has recently become quite competitive, but most vendors don’t have the advantage of working with customers’ internal operational centers to discover new business needs. This gives Corvisa Cloud an early insight into what it needs to build into its platform, which combined with its refreshing approach to the market should stand it in good stead.

Regards,

Richard J. Snow

VP & Research Director

Ventana Research has just released its 2013 Value Index for Agent Desktop Management, in which we evaluate the competency and maturity of vendors and products that support the management of the AD_VentanaResearchValueIndex_2013desktop systems that agents use to handle customer interactions. Our firm has researched this software category for many years, and our benchmark research into customer service and the agent desktop shows the impact the agent desktop has on agent satisfaction and efficiency and the business outcome of such interactions. Because of its increasing importance, we have taken agent desktop management out of our Customer Experience Value Index and created a separate category for it.

I am excited to provide research and education on this critical software. It is essential in every contact center and industry, but its importance is often not recognized by businesses or other analyst firms. Our research on organizations using this software not only uncovered best practices and trends but also highlighted what businesses can do to improve competencies across their workforce and processes. The new Value Index for Agent Desktop Management assesses vendors and their products and whether they meet companies’ needs, based on what participants in our agent desktop benchmark research told us was important to them.

The Ventana Research methodology utilizes a request for proposal and assessment based approach looking more closely at the software than just a vendor’s vision or ability to sell software. Each Value Index takes six months to complete; unlike other analyst firms, we look at the product details that have the most importance in terms of successful use and benefits. We evaluate agent desktop vendors on seven categories that are essential for achieving expected benefits: usability, reliability, manageability, adaptability and capability of the products, as well as the customer assurance areas of validation and TCO and ROI. We assign weight to each category according to its priority to buyers, and total the results to 100 percent for scoring purposes. In the process, we identify best and worst practices to further refine how we assess technology vendors in each category. For instance, this year we placed a heavier emphasis on usability, a factor that organizations in our 2013 benchmark research indicated is becoming more important to the value of software used. You can read the details on our methodology and process in the 2013 Agent Desktop Management Value Index market report.

Our Value Index analysis for agent desktop management looks at a range of needs across industries and across companies and contact centers of all sizes. The Value Index examines requirements by job role, including management, contact center managers, supervisors and agents, and IT groups that support contact center systems. We also examine whether a system provides in-depth capabilities and features such as easy-to-use interfaces to optimize desktop use; workflow alerts and triggers to align operations; access to multiple channels of communication; the ability to find customer information easily so agents can provide personalized responses and complete after-call tasks; agent access to training information and dashboards; optimization of back-office processes; data capture and analysis; integration with communication systems and other business applications; analysis of interaction handling performance; and administrative capabilities to help create agent-specific desktops and manage use of the software.

Our analysis this year rates eight vendors Hot, which, as the highest value level, demonstrates product maturity. Upstream Works ranks at the top, followed by Cicero, OpenSpan, Jacada, salesforce.com, Cincom, AD_Weighted_OverallAltitude Software and KANA. Upstream Works retains the top position it achieved last year, while Altitude Software significantly improves its position and KANA enters as a Hot vendor. NICE Systems enters as a Warm vendor with a product that focuses more on optimizing agent performance and less on supporting multiple communication channels and integration with other systems. Genesys remains a Warm vendor, as its product focuses on telephony and  lacks sophisticated integration capabilities. SmartPoint and RiverStar dropped out of the analysis, declining to participate.

In line with the increasing importance of the agent desktop and its impact on the agent and overall customer experiences, the agent desktop management market has become highly competitive. Much has changed since companies such as Jacada and Genesys released their early systems, which focused on telephony and, in the case of Jacada, hid all systems from the user behind a replacement user interface. Today’s most advanced systems allow companies to choose the style of interface they want, support more channels of communication, guide users on the next best action, offer point-and-click capabilities to support ease of integration with other systems, and support more advanced analysis and presentation of performance information. All of the Hot vendors have released updated versions of their products in an effort to keep up with these requirements. As we note in the report, Upstream Works has released a new product, based on Cisco’s new offering, that changes the user interface and mode of operation, and Enghouse Interactive has entered the market with a system that focuses on optimizing access to multiple communication channels. The agent desktop management category thus is maturing rapidly, with new vendors entering the market and new capabilities to support emerging requirements, such as social customer service and mobility. This Value Index offers a guide to which vendors are in the market and their products’ maturity levels, providing a good starting point as companies evaluate how to improve customer interaction performance.

We take pride in our Value Index, and we believe it’s cool to be a Hot vendor. Unlike other analyst firms, we recognize the impact the agent desktop has on agent satisfaction and thus the customer experience. If you look at our research or talk to contact center managers, you will see that the agent desktop is becoming more complex as agents need to access more channels of communication and applications. Today’s desktop systems can therefore play a part in not only making processes easier and more efficient, but also ensuring that more agents follow best practices and achieve the best outcomes. To different degrees, our Hot vendors demonstrate capabilities that support these objectives, and each should be recognized for its efforts.

Congratulations to the vendors that stood up to our detailed assessment processes and granular analysis, which represent how organizations assess and select vendors. We’re proud of our objective and in-depth analysis, which we publish without review or editing by the technology vendors, unlike other analyst firms. While some vendors may object to the results, our independence provides the basis for the most trusted research in the industry. If you want further information, please download the executive summary and let us know if you need help selecting the right vendor for your agent desktop needs. We look forward to continuing to offer guidance to buyers in this critical application category, and to helping business and IT professionals who need to run the most efficient, results-oriented and profitable organizations.

Regards,

Richard J. Snow

VP & Research Director

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