Aspect Software today entered into an agreement to acquire Voxeo for $150 million.
The companies said the acquisition will enhance Aspect's cloud, hybrid, and premises-based deployments while adding interactive voice response and multichannel self-service capabilities to the company's solution portfolio. The move could also propel Aspect to a better position to go up against the likes of much larger competitors like Genesys, Cisco Systems, and Avaya.
"From an acquisition point, this is a very strategic move for us," says Chris Koziol, president and general manger of interaction management at Aspect.
Voxeo, he said, brings to Aspect "not only market-leading technology" but expanded technical development, sales, and customer support resources. "The addition of Voxeo's hosted and off-premises IVR solutions and the multichannel self-service applications we believe will accelerate our cloud, hybrid, and off-premises deployment capabilities, and Voxeo has really proven that in the marketplace."
Bob Ingalls, a former Verizon senior executive who only took over Voxeo as its CEO in September after Jonathan Taylor stepped down, said it was the right time to take advantage of what Aspect offered.
"This puts the team in a great position to grow and gives us the scale that we need," he says. "The market reach that Aspect has and the sales coverage—with 46 offices around the world—are going to put us in a different league...Given the quality of the technology and quality of people and the network that we have, it's a huge pick-up for Aspect."
Industry analysts largely agree.
"It's a very positive move for Aspect. They are certainly getting a quality IVR provider with excellent technology and a growing customer base," says Keith Dawson, principal analyst with Ovum's customer interaction team. "It improves Aspect's offering in IVR, in the cloud, and in outbound—all very important areas for them."
According to Dawson, Voxeo had been an acquisition target for quite some time, and many parties expressed interest in the company. "It's pretty clear that this is something of a coup for Aspect," he adds.
The acquisition announcement came just days after Voxeo Labs announced that it was officially changing its name to Tropo, reflecting the name of the development platform that it had been so instrumental in creating. That move by Voxeo Labs completed a spin-off process that began more than a year ago.
Donna Fluss, president of DMG Consulting, identified Voxeo as "a very strong player in the IVR market." And while Aspect had its own IVR technology, Voxeo "gives them a much stronger IVR, and it gives them a cloud-based business with people who know how to run a cloud-based business," she states.
Bill Meisel, president of TMA Associates, says the deal definitely strengthens Aspect's portfolio. "Aspect has been strong in overall contact center management, including tools for managing the workforce, and Voxeo was an early pioneer in hosted customer service solutions, supporting automation with speech recognition. The combination allows a more complete offering" than either company could offer on its own.
Executives at both Voxeo and Aspect said their combined customer bases stand to benefit from the deal. The collaboration allows Aspect to begin serving small and midsized businesses through more flexible solution delivery options, while current Voxeo customers will have interaction management, workforce optimization and IVR capabilities within a single, comprehensive customer contact solution.
Koziol says Aspect has no plans to change Voxeo's market approach or to completely dissolve the company.
With that said, the market will be paying close attention to how the integration proceeds. "The question is what will the new Aspect team do with this acquisition," Fluss says. "This is Aspect's first acquisition for the new management team, so it will be interesting to see how they incorporate Voxeo's capabilities into their unified IT (UIT) suite."
Aspect only appointed a new CEO, former Escalate Retail CEO Stewart Bloom, last August.
Dawson will be looking at the Aspect's plans for integration and its product development roadmap. "It also remains to be seen whether the two company cultures will meld effectively, something that's been an issue for Aspect in years past," he adds. "That will definitely be a marker of the success of the relatively new management team at Aspect, whether they can effectively leverage the advantages that Voxeo brings in."
"Generally, I think this is a really strong positive for the two companies," Dawson concludes.
The losers, he says, are some of the other companies that were looking to acquire a strong cloud-based IVR company but now have severely limited options left. "With this buy, the music stops and the last empty chair is gone."