NICE Smartens Up
NICE Systems has juiced up its initiatives to combine its native NICE Perform functionality with the workforce management (WFM) capabilities it acquired from IEX and the performance management (PM) competency it nabbed from Performix Technologies. NICE today announced NICE SmartCenter, its effort to integrate its compliance, quality management, WFM, interaction analytics, coaching, customer feedback, and PM solutions, by leveraging a service-oriented architecture (SOA). NICE SmartCenter will be generally available in Q2 of this year; the timing of the general release will coincide with the releases of NICE Perform Release 3, IEX TotalView Version 3.12, and Performix 4.0. Separately, NICE also unveiled strong 2006 financials including 2006 non-GAAP revenue of $418.1 million, representing year-over-year growth of 34.4 percent.
Among the platform's capabilities are unified user administration, unified reports, a coaching package for scheduling through IEX TotalView, and an advanced key performance indicator (KPI) library. NICE SmartCenter also includes My Schedule components within the My Universe portal (using information derived from IEX TotalView and displayed on the My Universe portal from NICE Perform), and KPI views within My Universe.
While NICE's acquisition approach with IEX and Performix has been to allow them to operate as independent business units, it decided early on that the best way to develop any joint products would be to leverage SOA principles, according to Yoel Goldenberg, director of contact center and enterprise solutions at NICE. "With NICE SmartCenter we took the first steps in that direction," he says.
An SOA-based framework will enable NICE to integrate with third-party solutions. "Customers can pick whatever they want from the SmartCenter offering, although the most beneficial solution would be to have everything come together," Goldenberg says. "We understand and respect customer decisions to say, 'We like quality management, recording, and interaction analytics from NICE, and the IEX workforce management. However, for performance management we've [made] the decision to go with somebody else.' We do not force our customers to take the entire suite."
With an open architecture, NICE can also enable the solutions to evolve independently. "For example, once there is a new version of IEX coming out it will be very easy for us to make sure it will be fully integrated," Goldenberg says. "So, customers should not be concerned if they are using SmartCenter today and tomorrow IEX or NICE Perform will have a new version. That will be a seamless upgrade."
Another core component of the release, Adaptive Interaction Analytics, will extend NICE's focus on analytics. Adaptive Interaction Analytics analyzes interactions to help identify trends, anticipate opportunities, adjust to processes to meet business objectives, and to take action at the right time, according to the company.
NICE's approach to integration is notably different from the strategy taken by Witness Systems, which acquired Blue Pumpkin and is set to be acquired by Verint Systems. NICE's method is an SOA framework, whereas Witness has been "very aggressive in making plans to merge their applications and put them all into one suite," says Donna Fluss, principal of DMG Consulting. "The concept of an overarching [SOA] framework is a very good concept, but we need to see them execute."
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