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Customer Inter@ction Solutions
March 2007 - Volume 25 / Number 10
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Verint And Witness To Merge
By Tracey E. Schelmetic, Editorial Director, Customer Inter@ction Solutions
Analytic solutions provider Verint Systems (News - Alert) Inc. and workforce optimization company Witness Systems, Inc. have announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Verint will acquire Witness for $27.50 per share in cash. The convergence of Witness’ workforce optimization and Verint’s actionable intelligence is expected to create a broad portfolio of contact center and enterprise performance solutions.

The combined Verint/Witness portfolio includes solutions for quality monitoring, IP recording, multimedia interaction capture, speech and data analytics, performance management, contact center and enterprise workforce management, e-learning and e-coaching, customer feedback management, and a full range of strategic professional and consulting services. This combination will enable small to mid-sized companies and large organizations to leverage customer intelligence for better business decisions and optimize workforce, contact center and enterprise performance to deliver a compelling customer service advantage. 

“Verint and Witness share a similar culture with a passion for growth, results-driven execution and a laser focus on customer success,” said Dan Bodner, President and CEO of Verint Systems Inc. “This strategic move will create a platform for rapid organizational growth and provide a wealth of opportunity for our global employee population.”

For the near term, through the regulatory period, both companies will continue to sell, offer and support their recording solutions, and will continue well into the future to support customers of both solutions. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2007, at which time more information regarding the resolution of product overlap in the call recording areas, company management and headquarters location will be available.
www.verint.com and www.witness.com


Microsoft’s (News - Alert) CRM Analytics
By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor
Microsoft has announced the availability of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Analytics Foundation, what company officials call “a new way of using business intelligence tools from Microsoft that “enable comprehensive analysis and management of customer-facing processes, including business scorecard management, ad-hoc analyses of aggregated customer information, predictive analytics, enhanced reporting and more.”

Our friends from Redmond say they provide Microsoft Dynamics CRM users with “real-time access to key information and metrics, allowing them to respond quickly to changing dynamics in today’s competitive business environment.”
Microsoft officials say Analytics Foundation allows business performance to be tracked continuously through dashboards, lets managers and employees create reports and drill down into areas of interest and helps sales, marketing and service employees identify new opportunities to grow revenue and increase efficiency through the use of predictive analytics.
“Analytics and business intelligence are essential to getting the most from customer management systems,” said Brad Wilson, general manager of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Analytics Foundation uses unified dimensional models to build analytics that can be delivered to end users in the tool of their choice. Capabilities include real-time business performance management, giving users access to a real-time graphical view of the health of their business and letting them drill into the details from their desktops.

The business reporting and ad-hoc analysis uses online analytical processing cubes that enable managers and users to analyze Microsoft Dynamics CRM data without the need for IT help. The predictive analytics use the data-mining algorithms within Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services to detect patterns within customer information streams to generate recommendations for cross-sell and upsell opportunities to contact center agents or sales professionals, or prioritize leads based on a historical analysis of the types of leads that are most likely to convert to opportunities.In other words, your basic CRM analytics.


India Holds Great Promise For Telecom Growth
By Rich Tehrani, President and Editor-in-Chief
Kent Charugundla, a well-known telecommunications entrepreneur and art field sponsor, has diversified global experience in IP/telecom, conferencing, call centers, networking, outsourcing markets and contemporary Indian Art. During the last week of November 2006, he participated in the largest trade mission ever assembled by the U.S. government to boost commerce with India. Charugundla represented the smaller companies in the telecommunications sector.

As U.S. investors are boosting their participation with one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, I thought that this interview would be of value and interest to readers. Charugundla brings in-depth entrepreneur insights and practical recommendations. This can help readers to appreciate the opportunity that exists with one of the fastest growing economies in the world and help to participate, more specifically, in the telecom sector.

Read the full interview with Kent Charugundla at www.tmcnet.com/465.1


Intervoice (News - Alert) And BEA Integrate For IMS
By Stefania Viscusi, TMCnet Assistant Editor
Back in December of the past year, Intervoice and BEA Systems (News - Alert) announced collaboration efforts to facilitate the adoption of IMS communication services like voiceSMS, voice mail and video mail in a bid to move closer towards IMS. Now, Intervoice is announcing the completed integration Media Exchange with BEA Systems converged EE-SIP-IMS application server, WebLogic SIP Server for a platform for next-generation application and service creating.

With the integration, the hopes are to break into the mobile-media subscriber services market as well as call center applications that work with traditional environments, as well. The two converged solutions are designed to specifically handle next-generation and IMS services as well as provide SIP-based session control capabilities to next-generation, converged IP communication services.

According to a news release, “The underlying technology is a runtime execution engine based on State Chart Extensible Markup Language (SCXML), and a service-creation development environment based on the Eclipse framework.” This will aid in more extensible, rapid application development and service creation.


TPI Releases 2006 Outsourcing Report

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, Editorial Director, Customer Interaction Solutions
TPI, an advisor to global corporations on all facets of their service-delivery strategies for business support operations, has announced the developments for 2006 in the global outsourcing industry through the company’s TPI Index report. The contracts awarded in 2006 represented the single greatest number of such agreements in any year, up three percent from 2005’s previous high. After an exceptional first quarter, the year concluded with a total contract value (TCV) of $78 billion, amounting to an eight percent decline from the prior year. Annualized contract value (ACV), an estimate of the average yearly revenue potential that may be derived from the 2006 contract awards, reflects roughly a seven percent year-over-year decline in ACV, according to the report. According to TPI, the number of “mega deals” — those with contract values above $1 billion — was unchanged from 2005 but off $5 billion in total contract value from the prior year. Elsewhere, the total number of transactions completed as the result of a restructuring of a prior contract was a record at 72, but the TCV of just over $20 billion was not a record.



Prosodie Interactive And LumenVox Announce Integration
Technology services provider Prosodie Interactive and speech tech provider LumenVox have announced the integration of the LumenVox Speech Engine into the suite of Prosodie Voice Solutions. The initial implementation, an inbound Survey Application, was designed to offer a more natural interface for participants than a DTMF (touch-tone) application and increase responsiveness and satisfaction.
www.prosodieinteractive.com and www.lumenvox.com
SmartReply Launches CRM Loyalty Messaging Platform
Voice and mobile messaging provider SmartReply has announced the launch of a CRM loyalty messaging platform designed to seamlessly integrate voice, mobile and e-mail channels and enable clients to give their customers a preferred choice medium through which they receive marketing messages. Companies can improve their speed and flexibility in executing their CRM initiatives while ensuring their messages remain targeted, relevant and delivered in their customer’s most preferred manner.
Aprimo Announces On-demand Version Of Aprimo Marketing
Enterprise marketing
management (EMM) provider Aprimo Inc. recently announced Aprimo Marketing Professional Edition, an on-demand software version of the company’s EMM suite. Professional Edition offers small to medium-sized businesses an opportunity to improve marketing effectiveness with a solution previously available only to large companies. Delivered as a Web-based service, Professional Edition enables rapid deployment and faster time to marketing ROI; customers can go live in days.

Genesys (News - Alert) Makes Video Available In The Contact Center
By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor
The first voice self-service platform with built-in support for video customer service has been launched by Genesys Telecommunications. The company has also announced key standards for enhanced network services that enable a wide range of new applications, from speech-enabled voice mail to IP-based services using Session Initiation Protocol (News - Alert) (SIP). Genesys now offers this extensive support for video play-and-record applications that take full advantage of 3G mobile phones and other devices. Service providers are now able to offer a variety of new services, including rich media applications such as video voice mail, video conferencing, video-enabled music and game applications and video call-recording.

With VoiceGenie 7.1, a cellular service provider can offer consumers the ability to record and send copies of video conference calls or enable customer service representatives at a help desk to push instructional videos to help simplify a technical installation. Other video applications include telemedicine, video sharing and a range of other consumer entertainment applications.

Genesys positions its voice self-service platforms as providing enterprises and organizations with the tools to improve customer service. The company also offers its platforms to telecommunications service provides to create new services for consumers. Next-generation speech services are part of the larger trend toward dynamic customer interaction, which blends self-service and assisted-service throughout multiple touch points such as Web and multimedia devices.

Next-generation applications in customer service organizations can be rapidly developed with the new Genesys platform. Genesys VoiceGenie 7.1 and its sister platform, GVP, enable a complete range of voice self-service applications to respond to dynamic customer needs. The company has stated that it is focused on driving its technology beyond the contact center and into broader customer service settings in order to provide a consistent customer experience at every touch point.


Convergys (News - Alert), Tribold Announce Product Enhancements
By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor
Convergys Corporation and Tribold have announced the enhancement of Convergys’ Infinys Business Support System with additional product management capabilities. Through the integration of Tribold’s Product Portfolio Manager application software, Convergys will enable Communication Service Providers to centralize vital product data into a single enterprise catalog. By integrating Tribold’s suite of Product Management application software to the Infinys BSS product, so the reasoning goes, CSPs should be able to create, manage and control their products end-to-end, from business case development to product retirement, within a single view across all disparate BSS and OSS systems.

“Convergys is driving the need for operators to provide better product and service alignment. Yet, current back-office architectures are a challenge to this alignment,” said François Lançon, Convergys SVP of Product Management and Marketing.
Last summer, Convergys announced that it had signed a five-year professional services outsourcing contract with VIBO Telecom, a Taiwanese 3G mobile operator, to manage VIBO’s back-office operations. Convergys will continue to manage all aspects of VIBO’s customer care and billing systems, extending a contract first signed in 2005 under which Convergys implemented and integrated its Infinys rating and billing and mediation software with VIBO’s third-party CRM, activation, provisioning and partner management platforms.


Study Foresees Strong Growth Of Asia-Pacific Call Centers

By Leo Blanco, TMCnet Contributing Editor
The Asian Contact Centre Industry Benchmarking Report, a study on 747 call and contact centers, shows strong projected growth of Asia-Pacific call centers. The Philippines and Thailand are considered fastest-growing markets with 2007 projected growth of 33 percent. Singapore and Malaysia are set to grow at 32 percent while India, already a mature market, is expected to grow at 16 percent. Moreover, the study forecasts a 23 percent growth in the number of call center employees, increasing the total workforce to 704,400 employees. In the past, mature markets like India set the industry growth. However, the future belongs to emerging markets like the Philippines and Thailand.

Strong technology purchasing and upgrading plans are key growth indicators for Asia-Pacific call centers. About 62 percent of call and contact center companies plan to upgrade their current technology while 54 percent intend to procure new technology to boost performance. On the other hand, operating expenses are centered in labor, sharing 46 percent of the total budget, technology for another 23 percent and 19 percent for telecommunications.



Contact Center Outsourcing Moves Away From Cost Containment
By Stefania Viscusi, TMCnet Assistant Editor
Outsourcing has been seen in both a positive and negative light over the course of the years since it has become a popular business model. Depending on the way it’s looked at, outsourcing can have a strong set of benefits, or enough negative possibilities to counteract the reasons for outsourcing in the first place. In a recent study by Unisys Systems that looks at Outsourcing in 2007, it was revealed that outsourcing will shift to more than just a focus on cost, but rather on other benefits such as security and data protection as well as access to better skills.

“Overall the global outsourcing debate will become less about cost containment and more about accessing the best IT skills and expertise. Global sourcing will apply equally to IT outsourcing and business process outsourcing,” the study noted.
While the study focused mainly on IT factors in outsourcing, many of the same demands and tactics can be applied to contact center outsourcing, where cost savings may not be as beneficial as the other reasons to outsource. A similar look at contact center outsourcing can be seen when one considers that outsourcing contact center needs was once driven by cost containment but a backlash began when companies realized that though they were saving some money on agents’ hourly rates by utilizing lower-wage agents offshore, looking to domestic centers made more sense because higher quality, what really mattered, improved customer loyalty.

One of the four factors Unisys believes will influence the new trend in outsourcing points to a more conscious focus on customer loyalty as a reason to outsource. Additionally, elements such as protecting customer data are also important and play an equal role in the reason why contact center outsourcing can benefit a company as they launch a campaign or look for quality support for their customers. Just looking to cost savings and not realizing the effects of an outsourcing partner gaining access to all your customer information can prove troublesome if a focus on maintaining loyalty via better protection and solid relationships with that outsourcing partner is not in place.


CRM A $7 Billion Industry In 2006
By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor
Driven by “significant gains in license” and “maintenance revenue,” worldwide customer relationship management (CRM) total software revenue totaled $7 billion in 2005, a 13.7 percent increase from 2004, according to Gartner (News - Alert). Sharon Mertz, research director at Gartner, credited the “robust gains” as the result of “strong vendor performance across the market, continued rapid adoption of on-demand solutions, increasing penetration of emerging markets, and buyer recognition of CRM applications as key drivers of customer acquisition and retention.”

SAP (News - Alert)  was the number one CRM vendor based on total software revenue, with a 25.9 percent market share in 2005. Increased midmarket opportunity drove growth across the CRM market for both the large suite vendors and on-demand providers, Gartner reported, “such as salesforce.com.” Siebel’s strong fourth quarter results drove growth, but at the expense of Oracle (News - Alert) and PeopleSoft CRM solutions. Industry specialists such as Amdocs also benefited from high demand for vertical market products.

Gartner has traditionally measured market share in terms of new license revenue. However, due to the emergence and increasing popularity of open-source software and buyer consumption models such as hosted and subscription offerings, Gartner has moved to measure market share in terms of total software revenue. This includes revenue generated from new license, updates, subscriptions and hosting, technical support and maintenance. Professional services and hardware revenue are not included in total software revenue.



Workplace Ergonomics And The Telephone
By Stefania Viscusi, TMCnet Assistant Editor
Ergonomics have long been regarded as a necessary element in the workplace as they prevent injury and help keep employees working comfortably and more efficiently. However, one piece of office equipment that has been constantly overlooked when it comes to ergonomics is the telephone. Office phones, though improving technically over time, have been mostly designed without ergonomics in mind.

ShoreTel (News - Alert), a provider of enterprise IP phone systems, reveals their answer to this need as well as the details of their product offering in a recent TMCnet white paper, “Ergonomic Phone Design.” Office phones should be comfortable to use just as all other pieces of equipment in the workplace are. Because office workers and those in call centers spend so many minutes on the phone each day, offering an ergonomically designed phone will support productivity and reduce the risk of injury while on the job — a benefit for both the employer and the employee.

A piece of equipment that is designed ergonomically is built to adjust to the need of each individual user and is specially designed to make the equipment easier to use. Everything from the placement of the microphone to the way the speaker is designed is all taken into account when designing a phone that is ergonomic.

Commenting on their ergonomic phones, Tom van Overbeek, ShoreTel’s past CEO and a current member of the board of directors, said, “When we introduced IP Phones, we took it as an opportunity to create a higher quality phone. The design philosophy behind ShoreTel’s IP phones is simple: Your office phone should be a joy to use.”


CRM Solutions Through VendorGuru.com Simplify Call Center Services
VendorGuru.com, a one-stop telephony and CRM resource for professionals, has released a customizable search database to help businesses improve their communications systems. For companies looking to reduce customer frustration and defection, search site VendorGuru.com now offers a customizable search database, presenting products related to CRM systems and telephony for call centers of various sizes. Businesses can also locate lead tracking, contact tracking, sales pipeline/forecasting analysis and other services.
Sage Software (News - Alert) Introduces SageCRM v6
Sage Software has announced the latest version of its CRM solution, SageCRM v6, for small and mid-sized businesses. SageCRM was designed to deliver a rich and customizable suite of sales, marketing and customer support capabilities through a Web-based architecture that allows users to choose flexible deployment options including on-premises, on-demand and wireless. Version 6 introduces new user training tools including instructional feature tours and on-screen coaching, new data management features including expanded search queries and grouping functionality, and enhanced system administration capabilities.

Level 8 Changes Name To Cicero
Level 8 Systems (News - Alert), Inc. has announced that its shareholders have approved a plan of recapitalization. Under the plan, shareholders authorized changing the company’s name to Cicero, Inc.; authorized the board of directors to effectuate a reverse stock split; increased the authorized common stock of the company; converted existing preferred stock into a new Series A-1 preferred stock of Cicero, Inc.; and converted more than $6.5 million of debt to equity. Cicero’s solution was designed to provide rapid and seamless integration of disparate systems on end-user desktops. It is a non-invasive desktop integration product for contact centers and government agencies to improve the use of technology, enhance customer service, streamline business processes and reduce costs.

Axiom Integrates AXIOSS To Oracle’s Siebel CRM
By Niladri Sahara Nath, TMCnet Contributing Editor
Axiom Systems has decided to integrate AXIOSS Suite to Oracle’s Siebel CRM using Oracle Fusion Middleware. Thanks to the combined solution, service providers will have an integrated, end-to-end offering to bring new services to market rapidly. Axiom Systems is a member of the Oracle PartnerNetwork. The AXIOSS Suite blends operational service fulfillment, order management, inventory management and service activation with an active catalog. An active catalog is the place where service and product building blocks are developed, for example: network equipment, applications or even more abstract building blocks like work and rating instructions. These building blocks are modeled as components within the active catalog and can be assembled into service or product offerings that make sense to the customer or to a product manager.

“Today, service providers want and need to launch new services in weeks or days. Arguably, the potential of modern technologies such as IMS cannot be realized without this,” said Brian Naughton, VP Strategy and Architecture, Axiom Systems. “Axiom Systems’ AXIOSS Suite, integrated with Siebel CRM using Oracle Fusion Middleware, enables our customers to better achieve this goal.”

According to a news release, Oracle Fusion Middleware provides a common technology platform for ISVs to integrate and support their entire mix of Oracle and non-Oracle enterprise applications while laying the groundwork for SOA.
www.axiom.com and www.oracle.com


Left Bank Offers Monet WFM Live
By Stefania Viscusi, TMCnet Assistant Editor
Continuing with their efforts to offer workforce management solutions that are an alternative to expensive premise-based systems, Left Bank Solutions has announced a virtual alternative with the upcoming release of Monet WFM Live. The solution is a multitenant, pure Web-based workforce management (WFM) solution and features all the functionality of the Monet WFM solution along with additional advantages including a new multitenant architecture platform.

With the solution, there is no longer a need for service providers to have dedicated equipment or software licenses at each location as they sell new services, which allows access to Monet’s features from anywhere in the world. With the new capabilities presented by the all Web-based solution, it can help companies keep up with the constantly changing and demanding workforce.
Charles Ciarlo, Left Bank Solutions’ president and CEO, commented in a statement, “This solution is attractive to service providers and customers alike because they gain access to best-of-breed WFM technology that easily integrates with existing service applications and without the large expenses that typically delay implementation.”

New features of Monet WFM Live include improved and easier management of tenant processes and other features, “secured continuous real-time data transfer” capabilities as well as “comprehensive set of web services (API) designed to address all major integration needs into ACD systems and third-party applications for HR, CRM, ERP, payroll, call recording/QM, analytics and other systems.”


Compiere Announces New Offerings For Open-Source ERP And CRM
Compiere, Inc., a provider of open-source business applications, has announced new support offerings for companies using its open-source enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management application. Compiere offers a three-tiered support model to meet the needs of its customer base ranging from small to medium-sized enterprises to large corporations across a variety of industries including retail, logistics, distribution, manufacturing and professional services.
Kana Launches Integrated On-Demand Suite 
Multichannel customer service solutions provider Kana has announced the availability of an integrated suite of on-demand customer service solutions. Based on KANA’s on-premise applications, the KANA OnDemand suite was designed to deliver the enterprise-class security, reliability and performance required for high-volume customer service operations, as well as the traditional benefits of a software as a service solution, including lower total cost of ownership, more rapid implementation and faster time-to-value. Organizations can deliver more efficient and consistent managed services across all channels, including e-mail, chat, call center and Web self-service.

Avaya (News - Alert) and Jacada Forge Partnership
By Tracey E. Schelmetic, Editorial Director, Customer Interaction Solutions
Unified desktop and process optimization solutions provider Jacada Ltd. (News - Alert) has announced it has signed a joint marketing agreement with Avaya. Under the terms of the agreement, Avaya Consulting and Systems Integration and Jacada will jointly market and deliver Jacada customer service solutions globally.

The escalating number of applications used nowadays by call center agents means increased log-in time (having to enter user names and passwords multiple times, several times a day), increased training, inefficiency and a higher propensity for user errors. Jacada’s WorkSpace solution simplifies an agent’s desktop by providing a single, easy-to-use interface to the applications and contact center tools required to complete a customer interaction. Jacada WorkSpace is powered by Jacada Fusion, a process optimization platform that improves workflow across a company’s existing business applications.
“From Jacada’s perspective, this is a huge win for us,” said David Holmes, EVP of Global Marketing for Jacada. “This agreement goes well and beyond the typical partner agreement. We are jointly marketing and delivering our contact center solutions. We’re investing a lot on both sides to cross-train and promote the solutions to our joint target market. Avaya is opening a lot of doors we would not be able to otherwise open ourselves. From a go-to-market perspective, we have every reason to believe it’s going to accelerate our path to the marketplace. We’ve been selling directly. There’s only so many customers you can address with a handful of sales and services people. This instantly expands the scope of our marketplace. We have huge expectations internally for what this is going to mean for our business.”

Said Brian Carmichael, global contact center practice lead, consulting and systems integration (CSI), for Avaya Global Services, “My team has done a whole suite of traditional contact center consulting services. With so many applications running on the desktop, there is a lack of integration. We’re looking at this as a big opportunity to help grow our businesses and help our customers.”
www.jacada.com and www.avaya.com


Altitude Software Launches Release 7.5 Of uCI Contact Center Suite
By Tracey E. Schelmetic, Editorial Director, Customer Interaction Solutions
Contact center solutions provider Altitude Software recently announced the availability of Altitude uCI 7.5, the latest release of the company’s flagship contact center suite. The Altitude uCI 7.5 release was designed to enable contact centers to embrace change, profit from virtualization, increase productivity and grow proactive customer service practices, according to the company. The latest release includes new features designed to strengthen the contact center’s ability to embrace industrywide change. Native IP supports distributed operations, including home-based and remote agents, streamlining IT investments and optimizing human resources. The new version also offers proactive customer service features and friendlier voice self-service applications, and it provides managers with the tools to centrally design and implement flexible service-delivery models that profit from increased agent productivity.

Altitude IP Contact Centre provides businesses with a SIP-based, multichannel contact center solution, allowing for centralized management and configuration as well as intelligent routing, monitoring and reporting capabilities for several contact center deployment options, such as “on-demand” contact center; home or remote agents; multiple sites centrally managed or on customer premises.

The Altitude uCI 7.5 suite is designed to help companies reinvent customer service through “proactive customer care,” enabling contact centers to use outbound calling to increase customer goodwill. Businesses can use the contact center to proactively contact affected customers when service disruptions are anticipated, or they can pursue customer satisfaction follow-up after service fulfillment. This business approach can prevent inbound call peaks, allow for better staffing and resource management and increase customer satisfaction.

Altitude’s Unified Dialer application now includes a new Altitude Call Classifier module that complies with telemarketing regulations. The software nature of this solution, combined with its new hardware clustering capabilities, increase both scalability and redundancy while continuing to reduce costs.

According to a recent study published by Gartner, “Research shows that multisite organizations in key industry verticals, such as the financial services sector, are consolidating their use of contact center technologies — focusing on improving service delivery, while optimizing the costs associated with customer interaction. This has driven a focus on more effective use of established technology through improved desktop applications delivery, better initial call screening, more use of scripted customer interactions, self-service automation and multichannel contact management.”

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