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Service LEADERS [Customer Relationship Management]
[May 11, 2013]

Service LEADERS [Customer Relationship Management]


(Customer Relationship Management Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) ONCE AGAIN, social media has taken center stage in the customer service market over the past 12 months. But it has to make room under the spotlight for other emerging technologies. In this year's CRM Service Leader Awards, our panel of judges (listed below) look more favorably upon those vendors that have not only integrated social media but mobile, cloud, analytics, and multichannel capabilities into their products or services as well.

In addition to depth of functionality or services, judges rated vendors in our eight customer service categories on various criteria, including customer satisfaction, company direction, and deployment costs. A revenue score is also added for good measure. All of the numbers are then entered into a proprietary weighted formula to come up with an overall score for each vendor. The results of these scores determine our esteemed list of Service Leaders.

Because technological innovation can vary greatly from year to year, we dedicate a lot of real estate to the topic. Not surprisingly, when it comes to technological innovation, our 2013 CRM magazine Service Leaders did not disappoint. Read on to see how these leaders are shaping the customer service industry.


*BY THE EDITORS OF CRM MAGAZINE Thank You THE EDITORS OF CRM MAGAZINE WOULD ONCE AGAIN LIKE TO EXTEND THEIR DEEPEST APPRECIATION TO THOSE WHO TOOK PART, TO VARYING DEGREES, IN EVALUATING THE CANDIDATES FOR THIS YEAR'S CRM SERVICE AWARDS. THIS ISSUE, AND THE AWARDS THEMSELVES, WOULD NOT BE POSSIBLE WITHOUT THE GENEROUS CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE FOLLOWING JUDGES, COMMENTERS, ASSESSORS, AND RATERS: Leslie Ament, vice president, Hypatia Research; Aphrodite Brinsmead, senior analyst, Ovum; Dick Bucci, founder and president, Pelorus Associates;Ke\th Dawson, principal analyst, Ovum; Donna Fluss, founder and president, DMG Consulting;Pau\ Greenberg, president, The56 Group; Esteban Kolsky, principal and founder, ThinkJar; Mitch Kramer, senior vice president, Patricia Seybold Group; Ken Landoline, principal analyst, Current Analysis; Kate Leggeri, principal analyst, Forrester Research; Michael Maoz, vice president and distinguished analyst, Gartner Research; Sheila McGee-Smith, president and principal analyst, McGee-Smith 4na//f/cs; Melissa O'Brien, research analyst, IDC; John Ragsdale, vice president of technology research, Technology Services Industry Association; Peter Ryan, lead analyst, Ovum; Paul Stockford, chief analyst, Saddletree Research; Bruce Temkin, managing partner, Temkin Group; Ray Wang, principal analyst and CEO, Constellation Research; Rebecca Wettemann, vice president, Nucleus Research.

Customer Case Management THE MARKET Customer case management has continued to evolve as more companies want - and need - comprehensive ways to manage their customer support life cycles. "Certainly we're seeing the arrival of mobile access to case management as a necessary-tohave as opposed to a nice-to-have," remarks Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of research at Nucleus Research.

In addition, vendors that seamlessly integrate social support capabilities, along with mobile, will offer the most productivity gains. If a company has "poor" case management practices, the evidence is that much more amplified and "more visible to the broader social community," Wettemann adds. Companies are expected to do it all - from managing traditional support channels, such as the telephone, to monitoring customer communities - all while finding a way to bridge support channels while keeping customer communications in context.

THE LEADERS Microsoft Dynamics CRM came in as one of the most cost-effective solutions, earning a 3.9 in the deployment cost criteria. Its score for company direction, 3.7, was among the highest, with analysts praising its "investment in usability." According to Wettemann, "Having an intuitive user environment... integrated with email and other communication channels is really important, [and Microsoft has taken] significant steps to increase the depth and breadth" of its case management functionality.

Eyes were on Oracle following its acquisition of cloud customer service provider RightNow Technologies last year, and this year, the acquisitions continued. Oracle's snap -up of Collective Intellect will enable companies to monitor, analyze, and respond to consumer conversations on platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Oracle also released Oracle Knowledge 8.5 to bring enterprise data insights to online customer communities, and agent-assisted and Web self-service interactions. AnswerFlow for Contact Centers in the Knowledge 8.5 product gives agents automated guidance on issue resolution, and is integrated with Siebel and Oracle CRM OnDemand. Oracle Siebel has "exhaustive and mature case management capabilities with vertical support for case management processes by industry," says Kate Leggett, principal analyst at Forrester Research.

Parature was another strong performer. Though its customer satisfaction score dipped slightly, from 4.1 last year to 3.8, John Ragsdale, vice president of technology research at the Technology Services Industry Association, calls Parature an "increasingly sophisticated suite." This year, it released Parature Social Monitor, a social media monitoring and response product available within Parature's broader Customer Service Suite. Parature says its multichannel platform allows agents to manage phone, email, social, and Web customer correspondences all in one place. Parature added mobile customer support capabilities with its Parature for Mobile product, making it "a very good acquisition target for one of the bigger players, both because of the breadth of its customer base and the development they've done around social and mobile," Wettemann says.

THE WINNER Hats off to Salesforce.com, our category champion for the second year straight. As Leggett puts it, Salesforce.com has "a [visionary] road map for all customer touchpoints." The company's customer satisfaction score increased from 3.9 to 4.1 this year, and it continued to dazzle analysts with its solution scope. Salesforce.com continued its streak of acquisitions this year, with a $70 million acquisition of Golnstant, a cobrowsing solution that lets multiple users browse the Web together in customer support or e-commerce cases. Company direction remained steady at 4.4, the highest ranking in the category. Salesforce.com announced its launch of Chatter Communities for Service, bringing together Web self-service and peer-to-peer community functionality amid a flurry of features and updates announced at this year's Dreamforce conference. At year's end, Salesforce.com was on target to reach $3 billion in revenue. - Kelly Liyakasa One to Watch Although SugarCRM did not score as high as some of the leaderboard contenders, it had a solid tally of 3.9 for cost, which cannot be ignored. As more companies need and want affordable and comprehensive ways to service their customers, SugarCRM has a fighting chance in the future. SugarCRM narrowly edged out Pegasystems as our One to Watch this year, and earned a score of 3.7 for company direction because of its "good, solid road map," as Leggett puts it. - K.L.

Contact Center Infrastructure THE MARKET Social media has forever changed the contact center infrastructure (CCI) market, with many vendors still scrambling to add social media monitoring, routing, and response capabilities to their existing platforms.

Vendors have also been forced to adopt the hosted model, particularly as the economy continues to languish. Companies that needed contact center infrastructure but did not want to make large expenditures realized there were more benefits than challenges. DMG Consulting expects the rapid adoption to continue.

During the past three years, adoption has nearly tripled. DMG estimates that at least 18.1 percent of all contact center seats will be in the cloud by the end of 2015. Current estimates put cloud-based contact center seats at 5.9 percent.

And then there is a push to support mobile technologies, making it possible for customers to communicate with companies as easily via mobile phones as with their lanoline phones.

The growth in social, mobile, and cloud solutions comes at a time when the overall CCI market is in decline, reports Infonetics Research. "The tough economic climate has slowed upgrades, with businesses holding onto existing platforms," says Diane Myers, principal analyst for VoIP, unified communications, and information management systems at Infonetics. The firm does, however, expect the market to rebound this year.

THE LEADERS Avaya, which has long held the largest market share in the industry, lost ground to Cisco Systems, with some analysts viewing it as a laggard in the area of cloud-based solutions. Despite this, it still finished with a 4.2 score in depth of functionality.

Many analysts approached Avaya with caution, especially with regard to its company direction (where it scored a mere 3.5) as it works to realign its contact center portal with customer needs. "They should be doing a lot better than they are, but they're so deep in debt that it seems they've taken their eye off the prize," states Paul Stockford, chief analyst at Saddletree Research.

Sheila McGee-Smith, president and principal analyst at McGee-Smith Analytics, says that 2013 "needs to be a year of innovation" for Avaya.

Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories came out from under the Alcatel-Lucent umbrella in late 201 1 ready to redefine its market position. Following some key additions and integrations, including tie-ins with Deutsche Telekom and Klout, and the addition of a Genesys One platform, mobile platform, and orchestration tools, the company's depth of functionality score of 4.4 put it once again on the leaderboard. It also pulled in scores of 4.1 and 4.0 in company direction and customer satisfaction, respectively. Execution and delivering on its promises needs to be the main focus in 2013, McGee-Smith says.

By all accounts, Interactive Intelligence had a successful 2012, releasing updates to its flagship Customer Interaction Center platform, Interaction Mobilizer, and predictive dialer software; launching mobile and hosted apps; and announcing key integrations with Oracle and Microsoft. But this wasn't enough to keep it at the top. Still a leader in company direction and customer satisfaction, with scores of 4.3 and 4.1, respectively, its other numbers fell slightly. Its score of 3.9 in depth of functionality is sure to rise next year. "I expect analytics, based on the acquisition of Bay Bridge, to be a key driver in 2013," McGee-Smith says.

THE WINNER CISCO Systems reprises its spot at the top of the market this year, largely on the strength of its depth of functionality - the company scored a 4.3. It also raked in a score of 4.2 in company direction. "Cisco is a model of stability in this highly volatile industry segment," Stockford explains, identifying the company with "solid management, solid products, [and] the most for the technology dollar." John Ragsdale, vice president of technology research at the Technology Services Industry Association, credits the company with "an innovative approach" that brings video into the telephony arena. - Leonard Klie On to Watch LiveOps, a contact center outsourcing provider, only recently built out a contact center solution for its customers, and analysts have taken notice. Its greatest strength, according to analysts, is cost, where the company's score of 3.9 took the top spot among all vendors considered. The company was also among the top-five finishers in depth of functionality, direction, and customer satisfaction. - LA Interactive Voice Response THE MARKET The transition from voice to multichannel interactions is causing ripples across the entire contact center systems market, particularly the interactive voice response (IVR) segment.

As businesses continue to open new channels of communication with their customers, the need to coordinate service across these channels for consistency, accuracy, and efficiency has grown exponentially.

"This challenge will require IVR and voice portal solutions to be more tightly integrated with other customer contact and business applications. . .to effectively manage the growing use of multichannel customer contacts," said Frost & Sullivan senior industry analyst Suvradeep Bhattacharjee in a recent report.

Frost & Sullivan also found that while the IVR systems market as a whole has advanced tremendously in the past few years due to new technologies and best practices, most systems are still not used effectively nor designed optimally to deliver the best possible customer experience.

Still, Paul Stockford, chief analyst at Saddletree Research, sees the market as "highly competitive," simply because of its maturity, but he also notes that many niche players are starting to emerge to fill gaps left vacant by the bigger players.

In the future, look for the global IVR market to be further affected by the migration to VoIP and a growing base of solutions in the cloud, Stockford and other analysts warn.

THE LEADERS Aspect Software, last year's one to watch, came out strong this year with a 4.1 score in depth of functionality and a 3.9 in customer satisfaction. A few management changes and a growing emphasis on social media integration and work-from-home agent solutions caught the attention of many analysts as well this year. "Look for big things from Aspect this year," Stockford remarks. "The refocus from [unified communications] back to the contact center makes them a formidable competitor and a clear thought leader in the IVR market." Avaya is starting to lose its luster, but still maintains a strong position in the market by virtue of its market share. Despite scoring a 4.1 in depth of functionality, many analysts observed that Avaya's focus is shifting away from its PVR offerings. Other than changing the name from Avaya Voice Portal to Avaya Experience Portal, "Avaya has not done a good job highlighting - or extending - its self-service capabilities," says Sheila McGee-Smith, president and principal analyst at McGee-Smith Analytics.

Stockford agrees. He called the company's IVR offering "a highly evolved product that doesn't get a lot of attention from the company anymore." CISCO Systems, last year's category winner, stumbled after analysts observed a lack of innovation in 2012, evidenced by its score of 3.7 in depth of functionality. A score of 3.9 in customer satisfaction and company direction couldn't erase a black mark for cost, where Cisco scored just a 3.4. Nonetheless, it finished just two-tenths of a point behind Genesys, the category winner. Many analysts expect great things moving forward. "Cisco continues to refine their IVR offering with an eye toward the future," Stockford explains. "Their open platform infrastructure gives them an advantage." THE WINNER Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories takes the lead after garnering top scores in depth of functionality (4.2), company direction (4.1), and customer satisfaction (3.9). McGee-Smith notes, "It did the best job of marketing its self-service application as an integral part of its overall contact center suite, especially with its Intelligent Customer Front Door [iCFD] concept." She also points out that Genesys is well-positioned to capture a large share of the emerging Latin America market with its recent acquisition of LM Sistemas, a Brazilian firm.

Stockford expects great things as well. Genesys, he says, "has a good product that could get better depending on the direction the company takes," following its split from Alcatel- Lucent in late 2011. - Leonard Klie One to Watch Interactive Intelligence is quietly building a niche market for itself within the contact center market, and is taking some midmarket share from much bigger competitors, due largely to its reputation for cost, a base of satisfied customers who are vocal about their love for the company, and a shifting company focus toward enhanced contact center offerings. Still, many doubt that it will be able to compete head-tohead with companies like Cisco and Avaya. - L.K Web Support THE MARKET In the age of the empowered consumer, contact centers face increasing pressure to assist customers from a multitude of channels. "Customers want answers and solutions wherever they are. . .and on whatever device they use, such as desktops, laptops, and mobile," comments Mitch Kramer, senior vice president of the Patricia Seybold Group. "Also, customers never want to tell their story more than once, so Web support must capture it and use it as customers cross devices and channels." Vendors have responded by offering products, which, to varying degrees, allow companies to support their customers on multiple channels through one platform. As Web support continues to evolve, Kramer adds, we can expect to see mobile support and voice-enabled virtual agents playing a more prominent role in this space.

THE LEADERS Another recent Oracle acquisition, InQuira, landed on the leaderboard after being last year's one to watch. Rebranded as Oracle Knowledge Management, the company received a respectable 3.5 in customer satisfaction, a 3.3 in depth of functionality, and a 3.0 in company direction. Although InQuira is strong in certain areas, its offerings need to be expanded or integrated with other solutions to provide full Web support, analysts say. InQuira has a"best-in-breed knowledge management" system, Leggett notes, but "it lacks customer-facing capability." Kramer agrees, noting that "InQuira has an excellent search engine and knowledge management system, but they are standalone products." Moxie Software maintained its hold on the leaderboard with a 3.7 in company direction and a 3.8 for both customer satisfaction and depth of functionality. The company, according to Leggett, has a "solid road map that blends customer and employee engagement solutions." One such solution is Spaces by Moxie, launched last spring, which lets organizations combine their customer communications with employee collaborations on a single platform. "Our suite makes it easier for organizations to find and deliver the right answer to customers through their channel of choice," according to a company statement.

Oracle RightNow held on to its strong 4.0 depth of functionality score and received a slight increase in its company direction score over last year, moving from a 3.0 to 3.5. Compared to its competitors, however, RightNow's offerings are limited, says Ovum senior analyst Aphrodite Brinsmead. "RightNow has a good range of products, but its tools for knowledge management or Web chat are not as fully featured as those provided by specialist players InQuira and LivePerson," Brinsmead remarks. While Oracle continues to integrate RightNow into its other offerings and further strengthen it, customer satisfaction has taken a hit as reflected in its score, which slipped from a 4.0 to 3.8. According to Forrester principal analyst Kate Leggett, RightNow has a "robust set of Web support capabilities," but "customer communication has suffered since the acquisition." THE WINNER Claiming the top spot for the second year in a row, Salesforce.com also grabbed the highest score in company direction, with a 4.3. The company, according to Leggett, "beefed up its offering with recent acquisitions such as GoInstant for cobrowsing" and has "one of the most aggressive and visionary road maps." In addition, Salesforce scored well once again in customer satisfaction and depth of functionality, receiving a 3.7 and 3.6, respectively. "Salesforce.com has a comprehensive solution," Kramer says. "The Web support works very tightly with its contact center support... giving you a thorough interface to do searches, capture cases, and more." Among its product enhancements this past year, Salesforce.com extended its Service Cloud with Chatter Communities for Service, enabling customers to tap into a private social community of industry peers and company experts. - Judith Aquino One to Watch LivePerson fell short of the leaderboard, but it's not without potential. According to Leslie Anient, senior vice president and senior analyst at Hypatia Research Group, LivePerson's multichannel engagement software, which includes LP Chat, LP Email, LP Voice, and LP Knowledgebase, LP Insights, and LP Marketer, is noteworthy because it allows companies to support customers using comprehensive customer data gathered from various channels. "Larger enterprises seeking a comprehensive solution should consider short-listing this vendor," Ament says. - JA Workforce Optimization Suite THE MARKET This was another high-performing year for the contact center workforce optimization solutions market, which showed 9.2 percent revenue gains, from $563.4 million to $615.4 million, according to DMG Consulting^ "WFO Mid-Year Market Share Report." "WFO solutions sell well in both challenging and good economic times because they deliver quantifiable benefits to organizations," explains DMG President Donna Fluss.

Though revenue was expected to slow in the latter half of 2012 as economies in Europe and Asia struggled, the longerrange forecast is optimistic, with growth projected at up to 9 percent this year and next and by at least 10 percent in 2015. A large part of this growth will be due to acquisitions by leading WFO vendors that are expected to continue to acquire companies from other IT sectors. This will help grow the WFO revenue base, even if organic growth is not as robust.

DMG sees cross-functional benefits, including emerging capabilities such as cross-channel analytics, real-time guidance, and real-time speech analytics, playing an increasing role in this market. It is also looking for WFO vendors to push their solutions more strongly to the back office, which is more than three times larger than the front-office segment.

THE LEADERS Aspect Software, an early market leader and last year's one to watch, this year returns to the leaderboard on the strength of its company direction, highlighted by a management shakeup at the end of 2012, a 32 percent increase in R&D spending for WFO solutions, and a realignment of its product development processes. This, coupled with the release of version 7.5 of Aspect Workforce Management - which boasts streamlined interfaces and more capabilities for managing remote workers - and a strengthened partnership with Microsoft, is expected to position the company well in 2013. The company posted better-than-average scores of 3.6 in company direction, depth of functionality, and customer satisfaction as well.

Though WFO isn't a strong suit for Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, the company, which made our leaderboard last year, posted impressive results in depth of functionality (3.7) and company direction (3.9), as a result of its partnership with Zoom. This has been a mixed blessing, analysts say. "Genesys' strength is in the tight integration with its overall portfolio," says Sheila McGee-Smith, president and principal analyst at McGee-Smith Analytics. "Its weakness comes from the use of some [licensed] WFO components." NICE Systems, with the largest single share of the WFO market (at 31.2 percent, reports DMG), continues to impress with a complete, well-integrated product Une, helping land it on our leaderboard again. With scores of 4.6 for depth of functionality, 4.0 for company direction, and 4.1 in customer satisfaction, Dick Bucci, founder and presidentof Pelo rus Associates, sees NICE moving from the contact center market "in favor of deeper integration into the enterprise space with its analytics solutions." McGee-Smith says, "Big data has an opportunity to become important for the contact center market. NICE is [an] early leader." THE WINNER Verint Systems takes the top spot again this year. It was propelled to the lead with scores of 4.6 in depth of functionality and 4.4 in company direction, but its standing is based on far more than that. Through its Impact 360 suite, it offers "bestin-class solutions," according to John Ragsdale, vice president of technology research at the Technology Services Industry Association, "and is able to create dashboards for multiple contact centers using any number of telephone systems." Paul Stockford, chief analyst at Saddletree Research calls Verint "the complete package," with "a sharp industry focus" and "a proven ability to execute quickly and effectively on changes in the company's strategy or. . .in industry demand." Among those changes, Stockford elaborates, the company has taken an early lead in bringing big data into the WFO equation. - Leonard Klie One to Watch Calabrio fell off the leaderboard this year, but continues to be a company to watch. In addition to a market-leading 3.8 score on cost, it had an outstanding year in 2012, making it "one of the fastest-growing vendors in the WFO space," according to Bucci. The company, he adds, "is one of the better marketing companies, and does a good job of supporting its customers." Stockford says the small company has big aspirations. "Their understanding of what the future of the contact center will look like is unsurpassed." - LK.

Contact Center Search THE MARKET The demand for solutions that enable contact center agents to access customer information across a myriad of channels, applications, and databases continues to drive developments in the contact center search (CCS) market. "The agent needs to be able to support the customer, whether the customer is on a Web site or a mobile device, at a kiosk or in a vehicle," writes Michael Maoz, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, in a recent Gartner Magic Quadrant report. Being able to provide clients with the tools to quickly and efficiently find the data they need is a crucial component in this market, according to Rebecca Wettemann, vice president at Nucleus Research. "Productivity," she comments, "is going to be key moving forward in the contact center." THE LEADERS Coveo, a mainstay on the CCS leaderboard, pulled in healthy scores with a 3.9 in depth of functionality, a 3.8 in company direction, and a 3.6 in customer satisfaction. The company offers "excellent search [capabilities] across structured and unstructured sources," according to Kate Leggett, a principal analyst at Forrester, who notes that it also has "strong visualization and dashboarding tools to present search results in very consumable ways." What's more, John Ragsdale, vice president of technology research at the Technology Services Industry Association, calls Coveo his "top recommended search platform," due to its "faceted search and dynamic integrations" with external systems. In 2012, Coveo introduced Coveo for Salesforce, giving Salesforce.com users access to its indexing engine and extending Coveo's reach even further. Coveo renewed its partnership with Sitecore to continue providing more personalized Web site searches, allowing it to power customer self-service Web sites, resulting in reduced support costs and increased loyalty.

Oracle RightNow saw an uptick in its company direction score, rising from last year's 2.9 to 3.5 as Oracle further integrated the cloud-based customer service solution with its other products. In its "Best Practices for Customer Service with Oracle RightNow" report, Nucleus Research notes that "significant" investments have been made in integrating RightNow with Oracle's Smart Integration Hub, the ATG Engagement Engine, and InQuira. Oracle RightNow's weakness is its search function, according to Mitch Kramer, senior vice president at the Patricia Seybold Group. "Oracle has continued to improve the [RightNow] product since the acquisition," Kramer observes, "but search is not an area where they've made any improvements." New category addition Salesforce.com's search capabilities are not as extensive as those of its competitors, but that could soon change, analysts say. "Salesforce.com has an aggressive road map for the Service Cloud [which includes search capabilities] ," Leggett observes. "They are aware of their shortcomings and have robust plans in place to fill them." Wettemann notes that Salesforce.com has put in "a lot of work around bringing different sources of information into a centralized place, ultimately making it more productive for the end user." Analysts gave the company a whopping 4.3 in company direction, a 3.6 in customer satisfaction, and a 3.3 in depth of functionality.

THE WINNER Last year's one to watch, InQuira, which has since been rebranded as Oracle Knowledge Management, zoomed forward as this year's CCS winner with an impressive 4.8 in depth of functionality, a 3.6 in customer satisfaction, and a 3.3 in company direction. Compared with last year's scores, in which analysts had taken a "wait and see" approach in response to Oracle's acquisition, giving InQuira a low 2.7 in company direction, the analysts are more confident about the company's future. "InQuira is a crown jewel for Oracle in [combining] a knowledge base with customer experience," comments Ray Wang, CEO and principal analyst at Constellation Research. - Judith Aquino One to Watch While eGain received respectable scores, with a 3.8 in depth of functionality and a 3.5 in both customer satisfaction and company direction, the company faced stiff competition from other vendors, causing it to slide into this year's one to watch position. "As one of the last few standalone, best-of-breed providers standing, eGain has done a great job of delivering feature functionality," Wang notes. "The longer-term challenge will be the integration with other players and upgrading its cloud technologies for a world of big data." -JA Enterprise Feedback Management THE MARKET With the multitude of social channels available to consumers, staying on top of the constant stream of customer feedback has become more important than ever. Companies are clamoring for ways to collect and analyze feedback as well as act on customer insights, and the competition among enterprise feedback management vendors has become increasingly fierce. Advances in text analytics, fresh infusions of capital, partnerships, and acquisitions (Service Management Group acquired Locately and Confirmit bought CustomerStat from MarketTools) this year marked the continuing evolution of the EFM vendor landscape.

THE LEADERS Allegiance kicked off 2013 with a new CEO, Carine Clark, formerly of Symantec. The company also expanded its offerings through a partnership with Clarabridge, giving customers access to Clarabridge's sentiment and text analytics solution as an integrated feature of the Allegiance platform. Ray Wang, CEO and principal analyst at Constellation Research, expressed his approval, noting that the partnership with Qarabridge and a new CEO will "help Allegiance take EFM to the next level." A strong performer in depth of functionality, Allegiance held steady in this category with a 3.8 for the second year straight. It received a respectable 3.6 for both customer satisfaction and company direction.

After landing in a three-way tie of ones to watch last year, Mindshare Technologies pulled itself onto the leaderboard with a 3.8 in customer satisfaction, a 3.5 in depth of functionality, and a 3.6 in company direction. The company has gained "good wins" at quick service restaurants and other hospitality venues, Wang notes. As it continues to grow, we should expect to see Mindshare Technologies expand beyond its "core strength in multi-unit retail and hospitality," comments Bruce Temkin, managing partner of the Temkin Group. In a nod to the growing demand for the use of text analytics in the customer service industry, the company also tripled the size of its text analytics team, with new product managers, developers, and text analytics engineers. Mindshare Technologies continued to enhance its offerings with products such as Outbound Dial, an automated callback service that gathers customer feedback to gauge the effectiveness of service interactions, and an iPhone app that gives users real-time feedback from an Android or iPhone device.

THE WINNERS In what turned out to be a very tight contest, we have a tie between IBM for its SPSS Data Collection and Vovici, a Verint company. IBM garnered a 3.8 in customer satisfaction and a 3.6 in both depth of functionality and company direction. "We've seen a long history of positive ROI and high customer satisfaction with SPSS," comments Rebecca Wettemann, vice president at Nucleus Research. "Since the [2009] acquisition, IBM has continued to invest in making the solution easier to use and faster to deploy, accelerating payback, and reducing risk." IBM's SPSS Data Collection is a "pretty advanced product that data geeks love," Wang notes. "The key benefits include the global capabilities from not only languages but also the ability to use one tool for multilanguage.... They've made progress in improving usability and it shows as we see them more in short lists." Last year's winner, Vovici, returned with a 3.8 in depth of functionality and a 3.6 in company direction and customer satisfaction. The company remains a "core player in this industry," Temkin notes. "Adding Vovici's excellent survey and analysis tools into the Verint platform with voice and text analysis provides a very comprehensive solution for voice of the customer [offerings] ," adds John Ragsdale, vice president of technology research at the Technology Services Industry Association. (Although Allegiance also scored one 3.8 and two 3.6s, the winners' higher revenue scores - not shown in the accompanying chart - helped give them a total score of 3.7, versus Allegiance's 3.5 total score.) - Judith Aquino One to Watch Medallia came close to getting onto the leaderboard, with enhanced offerings, such as a sentiment analysis feature added to its text analytics platform and a social media brand advocacy feature added to its surveys. The company also received $35 million in funding from Sequoia Capital, which is being used to further develop its platform. Medallia has been showing a "strong growth" that "covers many industries," Wang observes. The company pulled in a 3.7 for customer satisfaction, a 3.5 for depth of functionality, and a 3.6 in company direction. -JA Outsourcing THE MARKET Among the top challenges outsourcers continue to face are keeping up with the changing needs of today's consumer and training call center staff to meet the demands of the social customer. Additionally, "there's been more demand over the past twelve months for outsourcers that have got solid analytics backbones and the ability to manage large amounts of consumer data than you've ever seen as long as I've been in the industry," maintains Peter Ryan, lead analyst for business process outsourcing research at Ovum.

Outsourcers are tasked with diversifying the skill sets of their agents, and with figuring out how those agents should work. Ryan says there has been a "rebirth or renaissance" of the homeagent market, which is evidenced by some of the mergers and acquisitions activity that played out in the space this year. There has also been a trend toward more on-shore and near-shore delivery, "which is playing very well to the enterprise clients." THE LEADERS Convergys, which nabbed a 4.1 for company direction last year, upped its ante with a 4.3 this year. The company has continued to build a "strong internal research team, which is doing innovative work on demographic differences and voice of the customer," notes John Ragsdale, vice president of technology research for the Technology Services Industry Association. This year, Convergys introduced customer experience optimization solutions to its analytics portfolio, allowing companies to analyze why customers call more than once or the root cause of log-offs during a chat support session.

Sitel also makes a return to the leaderboard this year. While this outsourcer saw its depth of services score fall from 4.1 to 3.7, its company direction score crept up from 3.6 to 3.8. Sitel is going to need to try and "establish a beachhead in some of the more emerging locations in order to offset their European business, since the demand for contact center services in Europe is going to be tough in 2013," Ryan remarks. If Sitel continues to strengthen its market penetration in places like South America, the Asia- Pacific region, and EMEA, Ryan says it will be in a good position to succeed in 2013.

Sykes had an action-packed year, which explains why this company secured a place on the leaderboard once again in this category. In August, Sykes acquired Alpine Access, a provider of virtual contact center solutions and services. This made Sykes "the first call-center outsourcing firm that's actually gone after one of the pure-play home agent organizations," Ryan maintains, calling it a "brilliant move." Subsequently, Sykes saw its company direction score rise slightly, to 4.2, from last year's score of 4.1. As Ragsdale notes, Sykes is expanding the role of its service providers by taking into account social media support. Along with the Alpine Access acquisition came expanded talent management and development services to attract and retain call center talent. But, as with any acquisition, Ryan says the challenge in 2013 will be to incorporate Alpine's services seamlessly into Sykes' own business model.

THE WINNER This year, Teleperformance ousted Convergys from the top spot in the outsourcing category, and earned the highest score for depth of services, at 4.4. This vendor, which also appeared on our leaderboard last year, continued to garner analyst and industry praise alike when it snagged a gold medal in the large outsourced contact center category in ContactCenterWorld's Top Ranking Performer Awards. "They've kept their finger on the pulse of where the market's going in terms of making sure they have good, solid social media offerings and an understanding of mobility," Ryan remarks. For this very reason, Teleperformance took home a 2012 Latin American Frost & Sullivan Competitive Strategy Leadership Award for its new flexibly priced social media customer support solution, e-Performance. As Ryan reiterates, "Multichannel's been important for them this year, and the long and the short of it is that they truly remain one of the real standards in the industry." - Kelly Liyakasa One to Watch There was a tie in total score for West, last year's One to Watch, and TELUS International. If West is able to maintain its versatile model of both home-based agents and facilities-based operations onshore and abroad, Ryan says he expects the company to continue to find success. As for TELUS, it had a good showing for direction with a 3.8, "so it'll be very interesting to see how [it plays] out in 2013," Ryan maintains. - KL (c) 2013 Information Today, Inc.

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