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Aladdin Finds His VoiceGenie

By Robert Liu
TMCnet Executive Editor

In planning its latest acquisition internally, Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories’ President and CEO Wes Hayden amusingly code-named the project “Aladdin.” And with the recent announcement that the Alcatel company will acquire VoiceGenie, Aladdin may have gotten his wish. But “a Whole New World” comes at what price? Since the advent of VoiceXML as an industry standard, the voice portal market has remained in a state of flux with customers increasingly opting to swap their legacy IT systems out of costly proprietary solutions and into an open architecture that helps simplify new applications development and deployment. As a result, vendors such as VoiceGenie have been helping big customers take advantage of VoiceXML to roll out self-service solutions in enterprise contact centers or services like directory assistance and virtual receptionists for telecom services providers.

Genesys, meanwhile, has been organically growing its own voice portals practice since it bought its way into VoiceXML in 2002 when it scooped up Telera for $136 million, which until recently represented the only other time that technology served as the primary impetus for its acquisition strategy. “This gives us the path to really accelerate the market going forward,” Hayden told analysts on a recent conference call. “That’s clearly an area on which we have the intentions to provide great focus and maintain a leadership position.”

Together, Genesys and VoiceGenie will be the undisputed leader of the voice portal segment with almost 25 percent market share — almost two-and-a-half times the size of its closest competitor. Additionally, the companies’ customer bases are both very complementary, meaning there will be very little “cannibalizing” of sales. Whereas a bulk of Genesys’ voice business has been “call-center-centric,” (as Hayden described it), focused on the enterprise market in particular, VoiceGenie has been very successful in the service provider space. In fact, VoiceGenie’s growing success in attracting enterprise customers is what contributed to Genesys taking notice of the company in the first place, he explained.

“It gets them to an incredible level of critical mass,” said Sheila McGee-Smith, president and principal analyst at McGee-Smith Analytics. “VoiceGenie has strong carrier customers. VoiceGenie’s history is they started the whole VXML movement with AT&T about 10 years ago. They come from a very strong carrier legacy.” But Genesys’ magic wish comes at a relatively high price. While terms of the transaction remain undisclosed (except to say that it was financed with cash; Hayden declined to disclose how much cash his company had on its year-end balance sheet), he did confirm that Genesys paid a multiple equivalent to one-and-a-half times their projected yearly revenue for VoiceGenie.

If that’s the case, then VoiceGenie was able to command a multiple at the high end of the range. For example, when Intervoice acquired Edify for $33.5 million in cash from S1 Corporation, that deal was valued at only 0.9 times revenue. That was the valuation that Genesys used in evaluating the assets of GMK of Brazil earlier this year. During the Q&A portion of the conference call pertaining to the announcement, Hayden also confirmed that Genesys wasn’t the only suitor courting VoiceGenie, which may explain the premium paid to the Toronto-based VoiceXML innovator.

“I don’t think they needed it. The technology they have is very similar,” McGee-Smith told TMCnet during a brief telephone interview. In rebuttal, Hayden claims that Genesys is getting more from the VoiceGenie acquisition than it has in its previous buyouts: GMK, Telera and CallPath, the latter having been acquired in May 2001 from IBM. “Each of those acquisitions offered a different dimension,” Hayden said. “With Telera, we wanted the technology and we wanted the people,” he said. But with CallPath and GMK (affectionately known locally as “Gimme-Ka”), the acquisitions were more about adding customers and skilled workers than intellectual property.

“What makes this [VoiceGenie] deal so exciting is they’ve got all three,” Hayden added, referring to its vanguard technological developments, marquee customers and talent pool of 90 employees. In fact, upon completion, Genesys will have a combined workforce of 130 to 150 engineers dedicated solely to VoiceXML development. Upon completion of the transaction, the two enterprise voice portal companies plan to forge ahead with integrating their two VoiceXML-based platforms into a single offering to serve enterprises, service providers and carriers. The public strategy of the integration project will also be known as Aladdin.

Project Aladdin is expected to yield an integrated, universal voice platform by the middle of 2007. No word yet on whether the combined company will re-brand that solution under the Aladdin name.

Robert Liu is executive editor at TMCnet. He may be contacted at [email protected].


M1Global Delivers On-Demand Business Convergence Platform

M1 Global Solutions (news - alert) recently announced version 2.0 of its Business Convergence Platform, which harnesses the power of IP convergence and service-oriented architecture (SOA) in a single, hosted technology platform to deliver communication- enabled business processes on demand. With the new release, M1 is also offering an easy-to-use process modeling tool called the Convergence Studio. The Convergence Studio serves as a single point of control for accessing and customizing the integrated interaction management, voice/Web self-service, real-time collaboration, business process management and data integration capability included in the Business Convergence Platform. M1 designed the solution to enable companies of all sizes to more quickly and cost-effectively create, deploy and adapt communication-enabled business processes to create solutions that help redefine the customer experience, streamline work distribution across the value chain and enhance business agility. M1’s Convergence Studio innovation comes in the form of a simple Eclipse-based process modeling tool that allows customers to build new communication-enabled business applications, through its ability to model voice and Web interactions and data flows, then auto-generate the code required to implement communication-enabled business processes on the Business Convergence Platform with transaction-based pricing. http://www.m1global.com

Aspect Software Acquires Quality Management Provider SophistiCom Technologies

Aspect Software, Inc. (news - alert) recently announced it has acquired substantially all of the assets of SophistiCom Technologies Inc., (news - alert) a privately-held provider of quality management software based in Schaumburg, IL. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. SophistiCom develops a quality management application that provides quality assurance capabilities as well as full-time call logging of all customer interactions to meet an array of recording requirements. The acquired application, which will be known as Aspect Quality Management, enables companies to better address regulatory compliance, risk mitigation and employee development concerns. With this acquisition, Aspect Software adds a significant piece to its contact center portfolio, which fills out its Performance Optimization offering, allowing for synchronization across all critical performance optimization capabilities: quality management, performance management, workforce management and interaction optimization. This approach provides a greater benefit than the individual applications could deliver alone, and still greater benefits when coupled with other Aspect Software contact center products, according to the company. http://www.aspect.com

UCN inContact Provides On-Demand Contact Handling

UCN, Inc., (news - alert) a provider of on-demand contact handling software and business telecommunication services delivered over the UCN national VoIP network, has announced the addition of several new features to its inContact contact management suite. The new features include call dispositions, enabling tracking of call outcomes; control over time zone settings; and call transfer options, enabling more efficient use of inContact resources while improving the customer contact experience. With dispositions, a contact center agent has the ability to quickly describe and categorize the outcome or action of a call upon completion of that call. To use the service, the representative simply selects a word or phrase from a customizable list of dispositions that automatically pops up after a call. There is an optional comments field where detailed descriptions can be added. During periods of high call volume, the system saves the disposition input screen, allowing an agent to return to enter customer dispositions during slower periods. In keeping with the company’s goal of giving customers maximum control over their contact center environment, inContact users now have two options for setting the time used for date- and time-related details. Businesses can define one corporate time zone for all reports, scheduling and contact details, or they can let each agent set their own time zone. In situations where agents are in multiple time zones, it is more convenient for the agent to reference a local time instead of the time zone of headquarters. This new functionality maintains the date and time integrity for reports and contact details for headquarters no matter where agents are located.

LivePerson Launches Click-To-Talk Solution For The SMB Market

LivePerson, Inc., (news - alert) a provider of online conversion solutions, has announced the availability of LiveCall, a click-to-talk application designed to bridge the gap between the online and phone channels for the small and mid-sized business (SMB) sector. More than 100 SMB customers have already adopted LivePerson’s patent-pending technology that enables Web site visitors to instantly click to talk with sales representatives or customer service agents, who maintain full visibility into the online session during the phone call. LiveCall adds new capabilities to LivePerson’s existing multichannel platform that manages customer interactions across all online channels — live chat, e-mail and self-service/knowledgebase. Delivering a seamless transition from Web to voice, the solution offers advanced integration and interaction benefits. Integration features supply insight into the context, nature and history of customer inquiries, while interaction tools allow agents to use pagepush, co-browse and form-sharing technology to help customers complete their online purchases or resolve service issues. LiveCall enables SMBs to manage customer phone calls with the same ease, efficiency and costeffectiveness as Webbased interactions. When a visitor initiates a call request, LiveCall immediately routes the request to the appropriate department or agent in the application’s operator console. As soon as an agent accepts the request, the call is automatically activated, connecting the customer and agent instantly. http://www.liveperson. com

Servigistics Announces Workforce Management Solution

Servigistics, (news - alert) a service parts management and pricing solution provider, has announced the availability of the Servigistics Workforce Management solution. Developed to forecast, plan and monitor field service technicians, the solution works in concert with the company’s service parts planning and pricing solutions to provide a strategic service management solution that manages service technicians, service parts and service part prices together to reduce costs and improve service levels. Specifically designed to provide a commitment-centric, closed-loop strategic service management solution across technicians and service parts, Servigistics Workforce Management combines service planning methodologies, configurable metrics and alerting business logic, and a flexible, scaleable and open architecture on a single data model to offer a compelling solution for today’s complex service operations. Servigistics Workforce Management clients typically recognize improvements in first-pass fix rates as well as improved planning, visibility and service level agreement (SLA) compliance. http://www.servigistics.com

Jacada Releases Unified Desktop Solution

Jacada Ltd., (news - alert) a provider of contact center productivity solutions, recently announced the availability of version 3.0 of its unified desktop solution, Jacada WorkSpace, and outlined the company’s vision and strategy to meet the demands of the growing number of contact centers that must modernize the agent desktop. Jacada WorkSpace 3.0, formerly branded Jacada Fusion Agent Portal, represents the next generation of the contact center desktop, according to the company. It offers a single agent console that unifies customer interaction tools with a single access point to all the mission-critical applications required by the agent to effectively complete a customer interaction. Jacada WorkSpace 3.0 delivers capabilities that enable companies to freely implement optimal contact center processes and maximize customer service representative productivity. Enhancements to the new version include universal agent capabilities; support for multiple, simultaneous call sessions; support for Linux servers, and Asynchronous JavaScript Technology and XML (AJAX) controls and features found in the new Web 2.0 rich-client foundation.

The Universal Agent feature in Jacada WorkSpace 3.0 automatically displays the right tools and applications on the agent desktop based on any number of parameters, including the task or role the CSR is to perform, the geographical location of the caller, the number dialed, or information captured from the interactive voice response (IVR) system. http://www.jacada.com

Kintera Launches Social CRM System

Kintera Inc. (news - alert) recently announced the launch of Kintera Sphere v8.0, its new social CRM system. The system enables organizations to drive all interactions based on comprehensive knowledge of constituents and provides a single, interactive system to manage relationships. Uniting constituents’ online and offline experiences into one database, Kintera’s social CRM system provides nonprofits and constituents with a total view of the constituent’s relationship with the organization. Built on Kintera Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) and comprised of Donor Management, Member Management, Prospect Management, Participant Management and Volunteer Management solutions, the social CRM system provides nonprofits with the data needed to build relationships with donors, members, prospects, participants and volunteers. Social CRM uses meaningful communications to create a more powerful giving experience, including enhanced trust, sense of belonging, instant gratification, emotional release and sense of social impact, according to the company. Delivered via the Kintera Sphere software as a service platform, Kintera CRM is the foundation of the social CRM system and enables nonprofits to centrally record and manage the most important aspects of their relationships to provide constituents with an improved experience with their organization. Organizations can build more complete constituent profiles with extensive standard profiles, custom fields and dynamic segmentation.

Unica Corporation Announces Affinium Detect And Affinium Leads

Unica Corporation, (news - alert) a provider of enterprise marketing management (EMM) solutions, has announced the availability of Affinium Detect for event-based marketing, and enhancements to its Affinium Leads product, including Affinium Leads Referral and Affinium Leads Contact. These products are new releases and enhancements of the former MarketSoft Software Corporation products for event-detection, customer alerting and lead management. Using its patterndetection engine, Affinium Detect monitors individual customer behavioral patterns to identify immediate sales or service opportunities.

Examples include identifying changes in service usage patterns, unusual transaction activity relative to a customer’s normal behavior, complex combinations of events, and even “inactivities” such as a missed regular transaction — all of which signal important opportunities to engage with customers for cross-sell, retention or loyalty-building. In addition, Affinium Detect’s packaged customer alerts enable banks, credit card providers and other financial services organizations to easily implement turn-key customer alert services with differentiated capabilities customers will value, such as customer self-defined budget alerts and unusual activity alerts. Affinium Detect’s customer alert functionality easily integrates with any e-banking infrastructure. http://www.unica.com

etalk Debuts Qfiniti Enterprise In Spanish And Portuguese

Answering the needs of contact center growth in Latin America, quality management and speech analytics provider etalk (news - alert) has introduced its Qfiniti Enterprise suite of call center applications in Portuguese and Spanish. By offering its marquee solution in the native languages spoken in Latin America, etalk expects to spur further growth in an already burgeoning contact center market. etalk’s regional sales increased by 54 percent in 2005. In addition, the number of contact center agent positions in the region is expected to increase by 17 percent annually to reach 730,000 in 2008, according to Datamonitor. Qfiniti Enterprise is a unified call recording, agent evaluation and advanced speech analytics solution for the contact center market. Qfiniti Enterprise delivers these services on a single platform that allows contact center users to simply log in with the language of their choice. In addition to the user interface, the speech analytics capabilities are also localized, so searching and script analysis occurs in the user’s preferred language. Because the Qfiniti Enterprise platform is “language independent,” the solution is well suited for multisite, international contact centers, since each user can simply control the default language setting from within Windows. A call center supervisor in Mexico can have his language setting in Spanish, and simultaneously, another user within that same organization located in Brazil can set his language to Portuguese. This ensures that a global program can be deployed and managed from a centralized location, regardless of where the specific call center or remote agent resides. http://www.etalk.com

IEX Renews Contract With TecnoSis To Distribute TotalView In Mexico

IEX Corporation (news - alert) has announced the renewal of its distribution agreement with Mexico reseller TecnoSis, and the availability of the Spanish language version of the IEX TotalView Workforce Management system. Now contact centers can purchase a native language version of the TotalView system directly from TecnoSis, who will also provide local support.

“The Mexican contact center market is growing. More and more centers in the region are deploying advanced workforce management solutions as part of their strategic quest for performance optimization,” said Jim Della Chiesa, vice president of sales for IEX. “The renewal of our productive relationship with TecnoSis, coupled with the release of TotalView in the Spanish language, makes featurerich workforce management more accessible to the Mexican market.” IEX is a provider of workforce management and optimization technology for contact centers. TecnoSis focuses on increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of contact centers through the distribution of popular software products within the Mexican region. http://www.iex.com

Pegasystems And Kanbay Deliver Business Process Management Solution For Financial Services

Pegasystems Inc., (news - alert) a provider of unified process and rules technology, and Kanbay Incorporated, a subsidiary of Kanbay International, Inc., (news - alert) a global IT services firm, have announced an alliance to develop and deliver business process management (BPM) expertise to financial services organizations. The alliance brings Kanbay’s financial services domain expertise and global IT services delivery capability together with Pegasystems’ BPM solution frameworks. Working together, Kanbay and Pegasystems are leveraging their collective experience to create repeatable, high-value BPM frameworks for financial services organizations. The initial focus of the alliance will be on developing BPM solutions in the areas of risk management, compliance, account acquisitions and dispute management systems. As part of the collaboration to develop these types of high-value BPM frameworks and best practices, Kanbay has trained associates in its BPM practice area on Pegasystems’ solutions. To date, more than 25 Kanbay associates have been trained and are currently engaged alongside Pegasystems on several BPM projects for a large global banking organization. http://www.pega.com and http://www.kanbay.com

VoiceLog Launches VirtualLogger Division

VoiceLog LLC, (news - alert) a provider of third-party verification, has announced the formal launch of its VirtualLogger division. VirtualLogger is a call recording and quality monitoring solutions provider that employs the hosted/application services provider model to deliver its services. In addition, VirtualLogger offers other agent optimization technologies, such as speech analytics and real-time dashboards on a similar “hosted” basis. VirtualLogger was designed to eliminate upfront capital costs and reduce the cost of system administration and storage, all for one monthly fee. In addition, VirtualLogger reduces both technological and business risk since clients can inexpensively upgrade to completely new technologies (e.g., traditional telephone to VoIP) and can reduce or eliminate the cost to match changes in business needs. http://www.voicelog.com

InfoTronics, Inc. Introduces Web-Hosted Attendance On Demand

InfoTronics, Inc., (news - alert) a developer of Web-enabled time and attendance software systems, has introduced Attendance on Demand, an on-demand, Webhosted time and attendance service for secure, cost-effective labor management. Attendance on Demand is a Web-based hosted time and attendance system with full capabilities for labor management, including scheduling, time keeping, accruals, incidents, budgets and more. Organizations use Attendance on Demand as a service, with monthly per-employee billing, exporting labor data into virtually any payroll system. With Attendance on Demand, organizations leverage InfoTronics’ expertise to deploy, host and manage access to complete time and attendance labor management functions. The application is delivered over highly secure networks on a subscription basis — speeding implementation, minimizing the expenses and risks, and overcoming the significant costs and chronic shortage of qualified technical IT personnel available in-house. http://www.infotronics.com

Nortel Provides Choice For End-to-End Convergence Solutions For The Enterprise Market

Nortel (quote - news - alert) has strengthened its end-to-end converged networks portfolio with the general availability of the Nortel Secure Router portfolio, extending the power of convergence from main office locations to branch offices. The new products were designed to enhance Nortel’s commitment to provide seamless, feature- rich enterprise networks that support critical, real-time applications including data, voice, video and streaming media applications. The Nortel Secure Router 1000 portfolio is comprised of the 1001, 1002 and 1004 for small office and branch office deployments. It also includes the Secure Router 3120 for mid-range branch deployments. In addition to ease of implementation and interoperability, Nortel Secure Routers deliver more than double the performance throughput at 25 percent less cost than equivalent routers from competitors. Nortel Secure Routers are being made available direct through Nortel and through Nortel’s extensive partner distribution channel. Several have been testing the routers in preparation for the launch. http://www2.nortel.com

Amae Software Announces The CEM Analytics Module

Amae Software (news - alert) recently announced a new module within the Amae CI Suite, the company’s flagship post-call IVR, Web and e-mail survey system. The Customer Experience Management (CEM) Analytics Module was created to deliver actionable, customer- driven analytics to the call center in real-time. The CEM Analytics Module is fully integrated with and complements all existing Amae CI Suite functionality. The new module includes reporting across all customer contact channels and transaction types and includes alerts and workflow at all levels within organizational hierarchy. The Amae CI Suite intelligently collects, reports and incorporates customer- driven information and performance metrics based on the specific people, products and processes each customer experiences. http://www.amaesoftware.com

Oracle Releases Siebel-based CRM On Demand

Oracle (news - alert) has announced the latest release (version 10) of its Oracle CRM On Demand, which is based on Siebel’s hosted CRM application. It was designed, according to the company, to deliver a comprehensive CRM solution that is rapidly deployable and cost-effective, in a secure, hosted environment. Release 10 provides enhanced customization capabilities.

According to Oracle, the price is attractive, too. The company maintains that, “Only Oracle On Demand can offer a complete, hosted CRM solution supported by an award-winning global support organization for as little as $70 per user. Terms, conditions, and restrictions apply.”

“With today's announcement, Oracle CRM On Demand becomes an even more powerful option for driving sales, marketing and service success, with a fast-to-deploy CRM solution that is easily configurable by business users,” said Juergen Rottler, executive vice president of Oracle On Demand and Oracle Support.

Oracle CRM On Demand Release 10 includes enhanced customization capabilities, extended support for sales and service processes, and expanded vertical industry functionality, an increasingly popular trend for CRM companies seeking to sell ready-made product to the big verticals: financial services and healthcare. The end goal was a rapidly deployable, hosted solution offering enterprise-class CRM functionality and requiring little or no support from IT. http://www.oracle.com

Premiere Global Solutions Upgrades Collections Accelerator

Premiere Global Services, Inc., (news - alert) a global outsource provider of business process solutions, recently announced an upgrade to its Collections Accelerator solution that provides a convenient, automated method of payment capture for Automated Clearing House (ACH)/debit card users. The new payment feature enhances the collections process for Premiere Global customers by broadening the accepted payment forms and decreasing the number of live agents needed to handle collections transactions. Premiere Global’s Collections Accelerator solution uses innovative communication technologies to make it easier for enterprises to contact their past-due customers and collect payments through a simple voice interface, helping reduce days sales outstanding (DSO) by improving payment rates. Collections Accelerator can reduce costs associated with the printing and mailing of statements and past due notices and enables enterprise customers to reduce the amount of receivables they assign to higher-cost third-party collections companies. Premiere Global introduced the new ACH/debit feature for Collections Accelerator in response to the increase in electronic payments and debit card usage by consumers, which the Wall Street Journal recently reported now represents 60 percent of transactions processed by Visa USA Inc. http://www.premiereglobal.com

Humantech Announces Lean Ergonomics Seminars

Humantech, Inc. (news - alert) has announced the addition of a two-day seminar to its current seminar schedule, Applied Lean Ergonomics. Lean champions, lean team members, manufacturing engineers and managers, and subject matter experts for ergonomics and human performance will learn to leverage ergonomic principles in lean manufacturing activities from Humantech’s experienced, board-certified ergonomists. The Applied Lean Ergonomics seminars will be offered June 6-7, 2006 and September 26-27, 2006 at Humantech’s Ann Arbor corporate training center.

According to Mike Wynn, certified professional ergonomist and vice president of Humantech, “The Applied Lean Ergonomics course adds a unique set of tools to the lean tool kit for organizations to accelerate their lean journey. These tools quickly identify lean and ergonomic issues at the workstation level.” Course participants will learn how to achieve substantially improved quality and efficiency, a stable and healthy workforce and a new level of operator involvement in the lean improvement process. http://www.humantech.com/seminars


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