Siemens Delivers Unified Communications to the Contact Center
Customer Svc/Call Ctr: 3
Enterprise CRM: 2
Industry News: 3
Unified Communications (UC) is becoming all the rage these days in the CRM space, as more contact center and customer service managers seek out one solution they can leverage to help serve customers faster and more efficiently on any channel, at any time. While a lot of ink was given to the Microsoft/Aspect announcement stating they would join forces to deliver a UC solution, Siemens Communications is ready to ship its contact center offerings, which will be globally available on June 30. The voice portal solution, according to the company, is generally available today.
Siemens' newest offering, the OpenScape Contact Center solution, is based on Siemens' UC software foundation, OpenScape Unified Communications Server. According to company information, the server removes the "artificial legacy barriers between today's traditionally separate voice, video, and unified communications systems to enable a comprehensive suite of UC applications." There are two new contact center packages--the first, rich contact center solution is packaged for SIP-based OpenScape UC Server foundation. Key features include:
- open standards-based software communications model;
- an "on-demand" software deployment; and
- high availability carrier grade voice infrastructure, scalable to 7,500 agents.
The second contact center offering from Siemens is a self-described, "self-contained UC-enabled contact center solution," with:
- simplified software value packages--"one part number, one price";
- deploy with any IT or communications environment; and
- unique aggregated presence and collaboration to drive first contact resolution (FCR).
The drive for FCR, explains Al Baker, Siemens' vice president of global CRM/CI solutions sales, is extremely important to cater to today's customer. "Customers want to call one time and get all of their questions answered on that call," he explains. "They don't want to be put on hold, routed throughout the company, or asked to call back at a later time. People just don't have time for that anymore."
Baker goes on to say the fact that the company is ready to come out of the gate with a contact center offering on a UC server is a tremendous competitive advantage. "Microsoft and Aspect announced that they're going to work toward a UC solution, but we're ready to go to market now," he explains. "It's a key differentiator for us." Sheila McGee-Smith, president and principal analyst of McGee-Smith Analytics, agrees. "Microsoft and Aspect have a working demo, but a working demo isn't shipping product," she says.
McGee-Smith is also impressed with the speed with which Siemens delivered the OpenScape Contact Center after announcing its plans in March at the VoiceCon Conference to bring contact center mobility to its new UC server. "What stood out to me most is about how quickly it came on the heels of its unified communications server and unified communications voice coming together," she says. "[Siemens executives] said [at VoiceCon] that the contact center mobility would come soon. Usually, when a vendor tells you its coming soon, it could be a couple of years--so I was pleasantly surprised to see it come on the heels of the other announcement so quickly."
The third component to Siemens' announcement lies in its new voice portal solution, which according to company information is a fully speech-enabled self-service solution that can either be a standalone or integrated solution--scalable up to 100,000 users. McGee-Smith explains that while the company may not have highlighted its new voice portal solution as much in today's announcement, it is a big step for Siemens and really sets it apart from companies like Avaya and Cisco. "This carrier-based product, the scalability and SIP-based nature of it is pretty differentiating in the market right now," she says.
Siemens' new contact center offerings underscore an architectural shift that McGee-Smith says all companies will have to make moving forward, but that they will have to play catch-up now. "Everyone's moving toward this, and Siemens is really out in front," she says. "Five years from now, look at Avaya's architecture--it'll be a single framework with SIP-based applications. Five years from now, look at Cisco and the same thing will be true. Siemens have it today."
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