Calabrio Joins the Enterprise 2.0 World

One of the biggest problems facing contact center agents -- and their managers -- is the sheer volume of data regarding products, services, and customers that is siloed and difficult to locate quickly. Having a lot of information is great, but not being able to locate the right piece of that information at the right time can have disastrous effects on first-call resolution (FCR) and overall contact center performance. Calabrio is trying to shift its philosophy to meet this problem head-on, with an anouncement at the VoiceCon conference in Orlando, Fla., this week that the company will be switching over to building software applications that are pre-integrated into a single "Enterprise 2.0" framework. Tim Kraskey, Calabrio's vice president of marketing and business development, says that the difference between a contact center agent and a supervisor isn't as black-and-white as it seems. What Calabrio is looking to do with its new framework, he says, is to allow for companies to have the flexibility to deliver the right information to the right employee. "The Enterprise 2.0 framework allows open-source tools that can be leveraged and also help agents get better information faster as things are moving more and more into real time," he explains. "Roles [include] agent, supervisor, executive manager, knowledge worker, subject-matter expert, evaluator, and analyst. These people are all part of the flow of information required to help, in many cases, customers." Ken Landoline, program manager in Yankee Group's enterprise research group, says that that's what he found interesting about Calabrio's announcement: the promise to present the appropriate service to each user's desktop based on each user's specified role. "What I liked about the interface is that they have these dashboards that allow you to be as flexible as possible," he explains. "Calabrio has the mindset that you don't need all the real estate on the desktop for your whole organization, as some companies try to do." Another aspect of Enterprise 2.0, the fact that Kraskey says it is traditionally built around Web services, is another point of emphasis for Calabrio. According to him, Calabrio's workforce management (WFM) application is completely Web-based today, and is moving many other applications, including its quality monitoring (QM) solution and Cisco Agent Desktop to becoming entirely Web-based. The shift to Web-based delivery, he says, "allows us to say that if we're not going to be the only application you want to bring in to this framework -- if you need to bring a third-party recording or analytics package into the framework -- you can do it with [a] channel partner or resellers," he says. "It doesn't have to be a science project." To coincide with this architectural shift, the company will also change the name of its workforce optimization (WFO) suite from Calabrio Unified Interaction Suite to Calabrio One. "We believe that the WFO world, traditional QM and WFM is being integrated more and more everyday with supervisor and agent CTI applications, screen pop, and other things we do," Kraskey explains. "We're bringing those two worlds together, and so it's time for a new name. 'Calabrio One' means you can bring whatever services you want to tap into onto one interface, one container, one stop." When asked if the name and resulting architectural change would confuse existing customers, Kraskey admitted that while customers don't like to be surprised or have to react overnight, they were prebriefed on the shift last November. "Every release moving forward, including today's, will start to make changes to [Calabrio's previous] interface and name it Calabrio One," he adds. "As we build the [user interface], it will take some customers six months to a year to adopt those changes and understand what it means to them." (It's not the only name change that Calabrio customers have faced lately: In November 2007, according to Calabrio's Web site, the company formally spun off from Spanlink Communications along with Spanlink's product development group; Spanlink had acquired Calabrio in 2006.) Also at VoiceCon, Calabrio announced new features for its QM and WFM offerings, as well as integrations for Cisco Agent Desktop and other defined desktop integrations for three additional CRM applications, including Salesforce.com, Oracle, and Microsoft. Kraskey says the releases are part of new paradigm at Calabrio. "All of these new releases sit under the Calabrio One umbrella; the power is around bringing them all together," he says. New features in Calabrio Quality Management Release 2.5 include:
  • knowledge worker recording;
  • graphical dashboard;
  • on-demand recording;
  • extended screen recording for after-call work; and
  • custom metadata for recordings.
In addition, Calabrio Workforce Management Release 8.3 now features enhanced vacation planning and a strategic planning module. Calabrio's announcement is yet another indication of the growing trend toward integrating WFO solutions into integrated suites, says Paul Stockford, chief analyst at Saddletree Research. The WFO market is becoming increasingly defined by these suites, he says, rather than by point solutions from different vendors. "In WFO, as these technologies come together and these point solutions become suites, pretty soon integration becomes so tight that it's just a given that if you've got workforce management, of course you'll have quality monitoring and performance [management]. If you have quality monitoring, of course you'll have e-learning because you'll need it for follow-up training. Eventually workforce optimization suites will be a single platform everyone will insist on having." Landoline believes Calabrio's announcement is an essential step forward for the company. "To reach the top level of effectiveness and excellence, contact centers will require tight integration of contact center applications, including agent and supervisory desktops that combine a 360-degree view of customer information and [key performance indicators] for monitoring and performance management, in a pre-integrated suite," he says. "What impresses me is that it is [now] at the forefront of their directional statement. It's a bold move by Calabrio."

Related articles: Workforce Management Expands, But Fails to Satisfy All Growth may not equal success: One study finds more than one-third of businesses using WFM in the contact center are not satisfied with the WFM process or with the available software. Feature: Checking the Pulse of the Contact Center Contact center performance management provides a holistic view of agent performance; use that data to spur desirable behaviors that will help reps beat center and corporate goals. Feature: Intensive Care Learn these WFM lessons to breed the best contact center forecasting, scheduling, and managing efforts Spanlink Acquires Calabrio The VoIP solutions provider gains the established multisite, multichannel, and multilingual functionality of Calabrio, and a customer base spanning Africa, Europe, and South America. Untying Contact Center Supervisors Roughly two months after Spanlink acquired workforce management specialist Calabrio, Spanlink unveils its Mobile Supervisor Workstation product, arming contact center supervisors with a tool to monitor and manage agents without having to be in front of a desktop. Scheduling-Tool Traction A contact center outsourcing company had its own workforce management forecasting tool for more than 20 years before finding a workforce scheduling tool that was more intuitive, easy to use, and fit its needs, from a company called Calabrio. Viewpoint: Leveraging Workforce Optimization for Contact Center Success Rethink long-established contact center practices and roles. Verint Makes a Speedy Impact The company's acquired Witness arm launches its latest workforce optimization suite, Impact 360, stressing analytics prowess and integration.
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