Nice and Verint Remain the Forces in Workforce Optimization
Just as CRM magazine debuted the workforce optimization (WFO) suite category in its April 2008 Service Awards issue, the analyst community has likewise been paying more attention to the umbrella term, releasing several studies on this burgeoning space -- following in the recent footsteps of Gartner, New York–based research firm Datamonitor has now released its first Decision Matrix on the WFO space, which it terms as workforce optimization technologies (WOT).
The addition of WOT to Datamonitor's repertoire is a direct result of demand from the research firm's client base, according to Daniel Hong, a lead analyst at the firm. "We needed to take a look at what exactly the strengths are for these vendors," he says, explaining the report measures market impact, technology assessment, and customer sentiment.
Not surprisingly, the two leaders in the WOT space according to Datamonitor's matrix are Israel-based contact center solutions provider Nice Systems and Melville, N.Y.–based WFO company Verint Systems. "They are really the clear leaders and have the greatest depth in terms of products," Hong declares.
That said, the two vendors were not able to put much distance between themselves in the matrix. According to Hong, Verint's most-compelling attribute is that it has a strong, integrated solution set. Nice's products, he says, is designed more along the lines of a best-of-breed offering. "For Nice, if it went ahead and had better integrations with IEX and Performix" -- two vendors that Nice acquired in 2006 -- "it could make for a much stronger offering than they have now," he says. "I think [Nice] will rectify this; it's on the vendor's radar."
Other vendors included in the matrix include ones to consider, the primary challengers:
- Aspect Software; and
- Autonomy etalk.
The report also has a segment for vendors that prospective WFO users may want to "explore":
- Envision; and
- Voice Print International.
Hong says that Aspect or Autonomy etalk could alter the competitive landscape if either company suddenly gets more aggressive in its strategy. "[Autonomy] etalk already has good speech analytics, and intends to partner to fill the product gaps it does have," Hong says, adding that etalk's acquisition by the larger Autonomy means it now "has more resources to put behind marketing and execution."
On thye other hand, Hong says that Aspect could also be a "credible competitor" to the current market leaders if the company decides to invest more money into its WOT solution stack. "This company has extremely strong brand equity because it is essentially an all-in-one contact center provider," he explains. "It also has a pretty large installed base of customers to work with."
One trait all the players profiled in this report share is that they are primed to continue growing as the mature WFO technology begins to penetrate emerging countries. The report predicts a compound annual growth rate of 10.9 percent for the WOT space between 2008 and 2013 -- a figure, the report adds, that is "significantly higher than the growth rate in most of the other contact center technology markets over the same period."
The expectation of positive growth despite the current economic situation can be attributed to several trends, according to Hong. He notes that companies must continue to remain compliant, and consequently have to invest in quality monitoring and call-logging tools irrespective of any budgetary constraints. Additionally, in emerging countries there are contact centers in desperate need of workforce management tools and basic CRM operations -- providing ample opportunity for growth among the established WFO vendors.
Last, Hong says that there is a mantra of doing more with less in today's economy. According to his research, this means increased interest in optimization technologies -- and workforce optimization is near the top of the list. "Exploit what resources you do have," Hong says. "We did a survey earlier this year and asked what [the] top priorities were, and ranked number one was contact center optimization."
For companies looking to make further investments in WOT, Hong says that, while the Decision Matrix profiles the leaders in this space, ultimately each business has to decide whether its specific needs are best served by an entire suite or various point solutions -- essentially, the age-old battle pitting best-of-breed versus best-in-class. "For basics like call-logging, go with the larger vendors," he advises. "Where you get to more innovative [investments] like analytics or performance management, take a look at smaller vendors because they may have a unique offering that will better benefit your organization." The key concern, he warns, is making sure that these smaller vendors' offerings integrate into your other WFO technologies
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THE 2007 Service Leaders, Part 1
The customer care market in 2006 evolved at an enthralling rate, as providers of service-and-support technologies and services toiled to bolster their capabilities through strategic partnerships, head-turning mergers and acquisitions, and deepened research and development--all with the goal of helping companies provide stellar service. At the forefront of these developments are our 2007 Service Leaders--the contact center market's leading vendors in seven areas: computer telephony integration, interactive voice response, Web-support services, workforce optimization, quality monitoring, agent-facing universal desktop, and outsourcing services. The results are based on a blend of weighted criteria comprising analyst ratings for customer satisfaction, depth of functionality or services, and company direction, coupled with financial strength throughout the past year evidenced by revenue and revenue growth.
Workforce Optimization Giants Continue Patent Battles
For the second time in as many weeks, Verint gained a victory over Nice Systems in the long-running patent-infringement cases over speech analytics and IP recording in the contact center.
Wouldn't Better Scheduling Be NICE?
IEX's first product release since NICE acquired the company is designed to meet scheduling requirements and represents the continuing move towards workforce optimization.
Tech Solution: Workforce Optimization Tools
Business Problem: Managers cannot staff and manage their contact centers effectively.
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.
The 2008 CRM Service Awards: Workforce Optimization Suite
Consolidation is all the rage in workforce optimization; Verint Systems takes the "optimal" spot.
A NICE Way to Handle Cranky Holiday Calls
As the shopping season approaches, retailers can expect disgruntled customers.
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.
IEX and Performix Find a NICE Home
NICE Systems will acquire IEX and Performix; is it the start of a major trend in the contact center solutions industry?
The 2006 Service Leader Awards, Part 1
The contact center industry was hot in 2005, as providers of customer service and support technologies and services strengthened their commitment to delivering first-class service. Many of the industry's players made their presence felt with forward-thinking mergers and acquisitions, while others upped the ante by growing from within and extending strategic alliances. We honor the industry's top-three leaders and one company to watch in the following categories: computer telephony integration, interactive voice response, Web-support services (formerly the Web self-service category), workforce optimization (formerly the workforce management and optimization category), quality monitoring, agent-facing universal desktop, and outsourcing services. The results are based on a weighted formula that includes analyst assessments for customer satisfaction, depth of functionality, and company direction, as well as fiscal health over the course of 2005.
Calling It Quits
Contact center agents are leaving in massive numbers -- attrition and absenteeism run rampant -- but there are ways to stem the tide.
Feedback: October 2008
Readers suggest a few other reasons that contact center agents are quitting.
Customer Demand Drives Gartner Workforce Optimization Magic Quadrant
The research firm's debut report on this market puts Nice Systems and Verint Systems on top, and says we can expect more vendors to join the WFO party in 2009.
Verint Looks to Resuscitate 9-1-1 Centers
The company's new public safety-specific solution is a shot in the arm for an industry "15 to 20 years behind in contact center technology," according to one pundit.
Autonomy Acquires Interwoven for $775 Million
The move looks to extend Autonomy's reach into the legal profession's document management sector.
Is Workforce Optimization Recession-Proof?
A new study finds WFO had a very good 2008, despite the economic downturn.
Workforce Management Market Set to Double
According to new research from Pelorus Group, the market will jump from $268 million to $533 million by 2014.
Nice Systems Sticks with Eglue — Permanently
The customer interaction specialist acquires longtime partner eglue, a manager of real-time decision-making and guidance for agent desktops, for at least $29 million in cash.
Buyer's Guide Companies Mentioned