Workforce Optimization Is Poised for Big Changes
To get a better sense of the vendors competing in the WFO market, DMG segmented the industry into four tiers of vendors.
1. Market leaders. NICE and Verint.
2. Emerging vendors. Competitors that are making investments and/or are picking up momentum; these include 8x8, Avaya, Calabrio, inContact [Editor’s note: Since the column’s submission, NICE has agreed to acquire inContact], Interactive Intelligence, and ZOOM International.
3. Competitors. Vendors whose revenue has remained relatively consistent for many years; these include ASC, Cacti, ComputerTel, Coordinated Systems Inc., dvsAnalytics, HigherGround, Mitel, OnviSource, TantaComm, TelStrat, VPI (acquired by NICE in March 2016), and Xarios.
4. Vendors in transition. Vendors that are positioning themselves for change; these include Aspect (which at press time was expected to come out of its prepacked bankruptcy in early summer 2016), Enghouse, Envision, Genesys, OpenText (which acquired HP WFO Software in May 2016), West Corporation (which recently acquired Magnetic North), and VirtualLogger.
One way to differentiate the vendors is to analyze their research and development (R&D) investments. Vendors that are aggressively pursuing the market are actively making enhancements, whether by building new capabilities or pursuing integrations and partnerships. Others are making investments only when necessary to win deals.
ANALYTICS IS THE FUTURE
The WFO market is in transition, and change is necessary for the sector to return to its glory days. The cloud is key; the two market leaders have to get on board and adopt this new mind-set, implementation, and revenue model. The WFO market will also need to deliver practical innovation in the form of analytics. The process has begun; speech, text, desktop, and customer journey analytics are all high-value solutions that have the potential to deliver great benefits to their users. The challenge is to get enterprise customers to adopt and use these applications. End users are showing interest in some of these capabilities but want vendors to deliver “fail-safe” applications, a need that can be better addressed in the cloud, where product fixes and new functionality can be delivered overnight.
We are in the midst of the Big Data revolution. The data is available and the WFO solutions are an important source of information. It is now a question of how to use this data to achieve top enterprise servicing goals, specifically to provide an outstanding customer experience, make it easy for customers to conduct business, and deliver personalized service cost-effectively. Vendors that figure out how to harness the vast amount of data and apply their solutions to address end-user needs will win. WFO vendors, which have access to mission-critical data, are positioned to come out on top, but they must evolve their solutions to meet the needs of their customers. Business dynamics are changing; enterprises no longer want to buy big WFO suites with the promise of potential benefits. Instead, they want to buy customized systems that give them the information they need to deliver a personalized and differentiated service experience.
Enterprises need to improve the performance of their complex back-office and branch operating areas, but they don’t know how or what to change. Businesses are concentrating on reducing the cost of these areas, while their customers and prospects are telling them to improve the ease of doing business. (In fact, reducing complexity will decrease costs and improve service.) Customers/prospects care about the overall journey, not the specific department that provides the service. This means that enterprises are going to need to break down organizational silos that they have spent the past 20 to 30 years building. WFO solutions that are customized to the needs of back-office and branch operating areas should be in strong demand, but are not. This is because the current generation of back-office/branch WFO suites does not fully meet the unique needs of these highly complex businesses, and the vendors are not effective in selling these solutions. But the opportunity is great, as the addressable back-office/branch market is 2.5 times larger than the contact center WFO market, based on the number of employees.
THE FUTURE OF WFO
The WFO market has a great opportunity to return to a high rate of growth, but it is expected to experience serious growing pains along the way. Leading and contending vendors have to migrate their portfolios to the cloud to allow them to accelerate the pace of innovation and adoption, although DMG expects many companies to continue to use on-premises WFO solutions in the near future. Analytics will play a major role in the future of the WFO market, as vendors deliver practical and actionable solutions that empower enterprises to engage their customers and employees.
Donna Fluss (firstname.lastname@example.org) is founder and principal of DMG Consulting, a provider of contact center and analytics research, marketing analysis, and consulting.
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