Aspect Software Acquires BlueNote Networks

Sometimes, the change you need is closer than you think. Just ask the folks at Aspect Software: Turns out that the next step in the Chelmsford, Mass.-based company’s strategy to deliver unified communications (UC) for the contact center was just a quick 15-minute drive away -- Tewksbury, Mass.-based BlueNote Networks, which Aspect announced today it has acquired. Several industry pundits have characterized the buy as a decidedly positive move.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but in a subsequent conversation with CRM magazine, Serge Hyppolite, Aspect's director of product management, explains that his company acquired all of the intellectual property of BlueNote's SessionSuite technology as well as 15 of its engineers -- a group that Hyppolite says made up "the bulk" of BlueNote's small staff. (The engineers will now be working at Aspect’s headquarters.) Hyppolite certainly thinks much of the value in the deal will be found in the talent pool his cpompany is absorbing: "The people brought forward from BlueNote are very knowledgeable,well-engaged, and immersed within the organizational body and we planto take advantage of that to lead the market."

Drew Kraus, research vice president for Gartner, says that he considers the talent and experience of the former BlueNoteengineers a great boost for Aspect. Another of the employees making the transition is BlueNote cofounder andvice president of engineering Michael Regan, who becomes the vicepresident of unified IP development for Aspect. "I am thrilled to bejoining Aspect in the midst of its strategy to inform the market abouthow UC for the contact center can really transform the way companiesinteract with their customers," Regan said, in a statement.

Speaking of customers, Aspect also inherits BlueNote's clients -- "a
fairly small customer base," according to an Aspect spokesperson, representing around two dozen or so companies. Hyppolite admits BlueNote is hardly a large acquisition, but he says it's an important one nonetheless. "This reinforces our vision to truly deliver UC capabilities for companies and empower business applications [that] enterprises already use today," he says. For Aspect's own existing customers, BlueNote's technology -- which according to information released by Aspect, comprises "IT-ready, software-based products that communications-enable business processes (CEBP)" -- provides the ability to extend to enterprise users the kind of functions that are made possible by a service-oriented architecture (SOA): session initiation protocol-based voice, video, and other real-time interactive communication services.

Hyppolite says the technology will also positively impact Aspect’s plan to build a UC-centric global services practice by incorporating some of BlueNote’s Web-service components as professional services toolkits. "This will augment our technology expertise in this space," he says. 

Sheila McGee-Smith, president and principal analyst of McGee-Smith Analytics, says the move is a good step for Aspect, bringing it closer to -- but not ahead of -- other communication-software players such as Avaya, Nortel Networks, and Cisco Systems. "As a contact center-specific firm, the acquisition helps [Aspect] stand more on a peer level, helping to lead where the market is going as opposed to following," she explains. "Aspect hasn’t leapfrogged anybody -- however, just like it was the first contact center vendor to break out with a very specific UC message, it now also has a very specific CEBP message." 

Gartner's Kraus agrees with McGee-Smith. "This is a very forward-thinking acquisition on Aspect’s part," he says. "It shows its commitment to the whole UC opportunity." Kraus concludes that the acquisition will have some immediate benefit for Aspect, but that the real impact will be over the long term. "As UC takes off within the contact center and in larger enterprises, this will give Aspect a real leg up," he says. "These kinds of tools really help to accelerate the market as well as the vendors that hold them."

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