As business executives look to bolster their contact center operations, many have evaluated quality, performance, and workforce management in addition to point solutions for coaching and analytics. In the past year, industry pundits have been forecasting a large shift away from singular offerings and instead toward workforce optimization (WFO). Stamford, Conn.–based industry firm Gartner adds to the fervor with its inaugural Magic Quadrant on this market -- specifically for contact centers -- citing customer demand as a major driver.
Jim Davies, Gartner research director and author of the study, explains one of the biggest shakeups he’s seen thus far is that vendors are much more willing to take WFO seriously. “In the past, some haven’t seen the value, had it as part of a product roadmap, or even a strategy,” he recalls. “Now, doubters are starting to believe.”
Based on his research, Davies predicts that 30 percent of large enterprises will start adopting an integrated WFO strategy by the end of 2009. He expects small-to-midsize businesses (SMBs) to catch on faster, largely because the value proposition is more attractive. “It makes much more sense for [SMBs] to invest in a workforce optimization suite because a large percentage of [those companies] haven’t made an initial investment in call recording or workforce management,” he explains. “It makes much more sense for these organizations to get something meeting all of their needs.” Further research shows estimated revenue worldwide from the combined functional domains making up WFO exceeded $1 billion in 2006, and Gartner foresees a compound annual growth rate of 9.3 percent through 2011.
Davies gives credit to customers for influencing vendors’ next steps. “Their [clients] want it, and so if the vendor can’t provide [the solution] then they will lose business,” he says. “It’s driven by demand in the marketplace, which comes from the value proposition.”
And that value proposition, Davies adds, can be described as rungs on a ladder. Starting from the bottom, there are four rungs involved:
- Identify the various pieces: Locate all the different functional domains from the components making up WFO, and realize each one has a specific value.
- Centralize your source: Have all the technology from one vendor -- Davies says total cost of ownership can be reduced with a suite.
- Integrate where it matters most: Integration at the administrative level is critical, but remains a major pain point for organizations today, Davies says.
- Unify your processes: Drive the workflow between components, so that what’s going on in one element (say, workforce management) can influence how the others (say, quality monitoring) proceeds.
This debut Magic Quadrant includes only six vendors, a paucity of competition Davies attributes to the immaturity of the space. “The market is still taking shape and some vendors didn’t make it.... They called themselves 'WFO vendors,' but in reality [they were offering] partnerships between a bunch of different vendors,” he says. “They have different code bases and are nowhere near as integrated a suite as a portfolio.”
Of those who did make the cut, companies in the Leaders quadrant are Nice Systems and Verint Systems. Aspect Software is alone in the Challenger slot, and Envision Telephony has the Visionary segment to itself. Calabrio and Interactive Intelligence find themselves in the Niche Players portion.
That said, Davies says he expects many more vendors to make the cut next year as the market continues to mature. According to the study, specific vendors Gartner expects to see in 2009 include:
- Genesys Telecommunication Laboratories;
- Telrex; and
As the market continues to take shape, Davies says, future research will evolve as well. “What we don’t address in this [study] is the fact that the concept of WFO is enterprisewide,” he says. “When organizations start looking at this, the contact center is the right place to start. Once you have it working there, you can think about applying those same concepts in the back office -- that’s when you can drive maximum business benefits.”
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