• August 28, 2017
  • By Donna Fluss, president, DMG Consulting

As the WFO Market Evolves, Will Vendors Adapt?

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For most of the past 30 years, the primary target for WFO-oriented applications has been contact centers. But this should no longer be the case. DMG research has found that in the United States alone, the back-office market has more than 2.5 times the number of employees as the front-office market, making it a much richer target audience. And given the dominance of Millennials in the workforce, employee engagement is now more than just a buzzword. Private and public institutions and companies are investing to improve employee engagement, a challenge that WFO applications are well suited to address. Here are a few of the people-intensive target verticals for WFO-related applications.

1. Contact centers, internal and external help desks, and other customer service–related functions

2. Back-office operating departments

3. Auditing, compliance, and legal functions

4. Branches

5. Retail

6. Field service and dispatch


For years, WFO was sold on the basis of “one size fits all”: QA solutions, for instance, have been targeted toward contact centers and have been functionally the same for all companies. It was possible for a creative company to expand the use of a QA solution beyond a contact center, but this rarely happened. However, if flexible workflow capabilities were to become a core component of a WFO suite and a QA application, for example, and vendors were able to customize their sales pitches for different target audiences, the addressable market for these solutions would expand greatly.

There is great potential to expand the use of WFO applications throughout the enterprise. For example, as internal and external fraud increases, the need to audit activities and transactions by employees in many departments has grown. A lot of auditing is done manually, but QA solutions are an ideal fit, particularly now that workflow can be used to kick off what is currently referred to as “QA” for non-phone-related activity. Companies should use QA applications for both QA and auditing, but to be successful they need different evaluation tools, rules, and processes to identify and capture relevant transactions. The auditing department must convert the QA solution into an auditing tool and customize it for every department and function that they monitor. Taking a broader view, there is a great opportunity to tailor the use of QA solutions for a variety of functions in an enterprise.

QA is a small piece of the WFO opportunity. To mitigate risk for an enterprise, recording should be used for all customer-facing activities to the full extent permitted by law. Speech and text analytics solutions should be used to identify insights and opportunities from all external-facing activities. Coaching and e-learning should be used to help all employees improve their performance. Workforce management should be used to improve employee engagement by helping to build a flexible workforce. Desktop analytics should be used for its robotics and real-time guidance capabilities. WFO solutions can be used throughout enterprises to help build employee engagement cost-effectively.


Given the broad applicability of WFO throughout enterprises, these solutions should be part of many suites and sold by a variety of vendors. Contact center infrastructure vendors have recognized this opportunity, which is why many of them now sell WFO capabilities to their customers. But enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), and human resource information system (HRIS) providers are also viable candidates to sell WFO capabilities. This means that WFO modules should be embedded in the suites that these vendors sell to companies. To accomplish this, WFO vendors need to rethink their sales models, which is both a major opportunity and a significant challenge.


The 1.6 percent growth rate for the WFO market in 2016, following the 5.7 percent market contraction between 2014 and 2015, is a call to action for vendors. The WFO market has reached a critical juncture, and to get back on track, it needs to reinvent itself. The addressable market for WFO capabilities is large and expanding, but to capture new business, WFO vendors will need to transform their companies, strategies, products, and resources.

Donna Fluss is president of DMG Consulting. For more than two decades she has helped emerging and established companies develop and deliver outstanding customer experiences. A recognized visionary author and speaker, Fluss drives strategic transformation and innovation throughout the service industry. She provides strategic and practical counsel for enterprises, solution providers, and the investment community.

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