IP Telephony for Everyone
Avaya and Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories both announced IP-focused contact center solutions today geared for organizations of different sizes, Avaya for the midmarket and Genesys for the enterprise. Both solutions aim to lower costs while enhancing the customer experience for their respective targets.
The enhanced IP-based Avaya solution features more detailed reporting, easier email handling and spell-checking, improved customization capabilities, and simplified management tools. It also links to Microsoft. Contact Center Express, which integrates with Microsoft applications, features a new Microsoft CRM connector that identifies incoming calls and presents a pop up with the customer's history on the CSR's screen. The connector enables agents to click a button on their Microsoft CRM screen to place outgoing calls. Additionally, Contact Center Express now handles and routes instant messages from customers using Microsoft Messenger. Pricing for Contact Center Express ranges from $425 per concurrent agent for voice, to $1,000 per concurrent agent for all channels.
The play also is part of Avaya's push into the midmarket, according to Lawrence Byrd, the company's director of communication applications. "They want intelligent routing, they want to be able to use IP-telephony, [and] they want to be able to use Web and email interactions, as well as voice, and Contact Center Express provides all of that," he says. "We're trying to bring [our functionality] to smaller businesses so that they can get the benefits that large businesses have, but at a cost and a simplicity that's appropriate for a medium-size contact center."
Daniel Hong, CRM analyst at Datamonitor, says that contact center vendors integrating with CRM providers "happens left and right," but contends that the announcement demonstrates how serious Avaya is about the SMB space. "By partnering with Microsoft they're able to leverage both strength [and] Microsoft's appeal in the SME market. Avaya is clearly one of leaders in the market for large enterprises, so in order to leverage the strength of Microsoft I think it's the right strategy." The announcement is consistent with the growing trend for leveraging IP telephony in the contact center. Hong says that large enterprises are rapidly adopting an IP infrastructure to support VoIP and now "it should spill over to the SME market."
Also flexing its IP muscle, Genesys released an IP-enabled version of the Genesys Voice Platform (GVP). Genesys currently has two editions of GVP, its network edition and its enterprise edition. Genesys already supported IP for the network edition, which Hong says was primarily for service provider customers. With this announcement, however, Genesys is adding IP support for the enterprise sect.
Nicolas De Kouchkovsky, senior vice president of marketing and business development at Genesys, says the announcement coincides with a maturity of voice processing on IP. "With IP we provide the ability to deliver the solution with less hardware, so the solution is made much more cost-effective. You can completely virtualize the way IVR is delivered, and it provides great flexibility to enterprises."
According to Hong, however, Genesys' support for IP in its enterprise edition platform is a much-needed enhancement. "[It] will open up new opportunities and establish greater presence for the vendor," he says. "Genesys is one of the largest global Voice-XML platform providers in the market, and this announcement shows its dedication to support its enterprise customers and their migration to an IP environment."
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