Hosted Contact Center Featured Article

New Datamonitor Report Helps Companies Select an IP Contact Center Vendor

April 15, 2009

By Patrick Barnard,
Group Managing Editor, TMCnet

Due to the weak economy, companies are shifting their focus from customer acquisition to customer retention. As a result, most organizations – especially those that operate contact centers – are putting a stronger emphasis on customer service.

In order to deliver improved customer service, companies with legacy call center systems are increasingly investing in new IP-based contact center systems. These newer systems, which can be either on-premise or delivered via the software-as-a-service model, offer advanced features and functionality not found in older, TDM-based systems.

Many organizations are finding that these newer IP-based systems not only help cut costs, but substantially improve customer service. As such, most organizations are witnessing a rapid return on investment when they invest in these new IP-based contact center systems.

In order to assist companies in selecting an IP contact center vendor, Datamonitor has published “Decision Matrix – Selecting an IP Contact Center Vendor.” The report provides a three-pronged framework for evaluating IP contact center vendors. It includes a summary of IP contact center vendors’ capabilities based on a quantitative assessment of their market impact and end-user sentiment, as well as an extensive review of the technology features that they offer, and uses these criteria to serve as the basis for the positioning of the vendors as “shortlist,” “consider,” or “explore.”
 
The “shortlist” category features two very different vendors: Avaya, with a long communications equipment history, and Alcaltel-Lucent/Genesys (News - Alert), a parent company that merges two different enterprise and carrier communications vendors and a subsidiary that has been successful by upending the switch-dependent paradigm for contact centers.
 
“There is little space between these market leaders, an indicator of the intensely competitive nature of the contact center industry and of the wide-ranging, but differing, appeal of the two companies’ approaches,” said Ian Jacobs, senior analyst for customer interaction technologies at Datamonitor and the report’s author, in a release. “Although both were selected as leaders, Alcatel-Lucent/Genesys and Avaya (News - Alert) have very different priorities and roadmaps and will not necessarily always directly compete for the same client accounts.”
 
The report affirms that companies are increasingly investing in these new IP-based systems, despite the current economic downturn. In particular, companies are showing strong interest in systems that connect the enterprise with the branch and the contact center – in particular systems with unified communications (UC) capabilities.

What’s more, small to medium sized businesses are starting to invest in these systems as well -- so they are no longer just for large enterprises. That’s mainly because these systems are now available on a hosted or software-as-a-service basis, which makes it faster, easier and more affordable for organizations to deploy a new system. With a hosted or SaaS (News - Alert) system, there is no need to deploy new hardware or infrastructure, all that is needed is a dedicated high speed line and the computers. This new method of delivery not only reduces the upfront cost of deploying a new system, in terms of servers, software and infrastructure, the ease of deployment means companies can trial a new system while keeping the old one in place.

“In order to offset markedly slower growth in the their traditional stronghold of the large enterprise market, IPCC vendors that had traditionally sold technology for very large contact centers will continue to try to find ways to package and sell products for smaller customers,” Jacobs said. “This means increased competition for companies that have already created small and mid-sized enterprise products. It also means increased competition for technologically and business process-savvy channel partners from which smaller companies typically buy such products.”
 
According to the report, core IP contact center features and functions continue to be the most important consideration when selecting a vendor.
 
“But, the difference between choosing vendor A and vendor B (News - Alert) rarely comes down to which technology provider can implement specific-agent recall routing rules or which one has a scripting engine for canned email responses,” Jacobs said. “This is why it is crucial for enterprises to consider technology alongside other factors such as a vendor’s reputation among its own customers and its position in the market.”
 
For more information, visit www.datamonitor.com.

Yesterday, market research firm DMG Consulting released a report showing that there is increasing interest in analytics software for the contact center -- for the purpose of improving agent performance and reacting quickly to changes in customer behavior.

The report identifies two new types of analytics software geared for the contact center: Customer experience analytics (CEA), which is an externally-oriented application that assesses the customer experience during every touch point (self-service, agent interactions and the fulfillment process), and desktop analytics (DA), which is an internally-focused solution that measures departmental performance and the agent's interaction with desktop servicing applications. It predicts that the number of CEA and DA solutions deployed will grow rapidly over the next three years, approaching 1,000 by the end of 2011. What’s more, the number of DA seats is expected to exceed 1.5 million during the same period.

Patrick Barnard is a contributing writer for TMCnet. To read more of Patrick’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Patrick Barnard