Best Workforce Optimization Software: The 2018 CRM Service Leaders

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Workforce optimization—which DMG Consulting defines as a set of solutions that comprise at least three of the following complementary applications: workforce management, performance management, speech analytics, text analytics, desktop analytics, enterprise feedback management, e-learning/coaching, gamification, customer journey analytics, and robotic process automation—is undergoing a rapid transformation. Chief among the changes is a movement from suites to full, next-generation platforms, but no less important is the addition of functionalities that can take solutions beyond the contact center into back offices and other business operations. The market has also matured, growth has slowed, and the number of workforce optimization vendors has shrunk due to some very notable acquisitions in the past year or two.

Still, despite all of the turmoil, Research and Markets asserts that companies will need workforce optimization more than ever, and vendors that innovate with new architectures and intelligent automation will be in the best position to succeed. 


Just two years after declaring bankruptcy, Aspect Software “is firmly back on track” with new management that “has crafted a clearer version of where it wants to go in the contact center space,” according to Dick Bucci, chief analyst at Pelorus Associates. It also didn’t hurt that the company posted strong scores in depth of functionality (4.4) and customer satisfaction (4.0). Aspect “knows how to leverage workforce optimization to the benefit of both employees and customers,” adds Paul Stockford, president and chief analyst at Saddletree Research, who adds that the company is made up of “not only pioneers but visionaries and thought leaders.”

Calabrio earned high marks in cost (4.1) and customer satisfaction (4.0). It also scored a 3.9 in company direction and a 3.8 in depth of functionality. According to Stockford, the company “is on a rocket ride to the top.” Ian Jacobs, senior analyst at Forrester Research, offered a more measured view, saying the company “is still just spreading its wings and has lots of growth potential.” Jacobs also expects the company to “land in new customer ecosystems” thanks to several key partnerships that it signed recently.

Genesys posted scores of 3.8 in company direction and customer satisfaction, as well as a 3.7 in cost. And while it has “really stepped up its work on its user interfaces, both in mobile and web,” according to Jacobs, other analysts, like Sheila McGee-Smith, founder and president of McGee-Smith Analytics, are anxiously waiting to see how it incorporates its Kate virtual assistant platform into its WFO product. WFO, she adds, has been identified by Genesys as an asset that will be built once and deployed across all three of its larger contact center platforms: PureEngage, PureConnect, and PureCloud.

Last year’s winner, Verint Systems scored a 4.5 in depth of functionality, a 3.8 in customer satisfaction, and a 3.6 in company direction. “Over the years, Verint has continued to grow both organically and through strategic acquisitions,” Bucci says, pointing out that Verint “pioneered the workforce optimization concept in 2005 and has continued to refine the design and add new applications, such as analytics, enterprise voice of the customer, and voice authentication.” Stockford agrees, saying that Verint “continues to be the trailblazer and innovator” in WFO and adding that it has “essentially mastered the art of workforce optimization to the benefit of the industry as a whole.” He and others expect Verint’s acquisition of Next IT in December to lead to even more revolutionary WFO solutions.


NICE moves into the top spot this year after posting scores of 4.5 in depth of functionality, 4.3 in company direction, and 3.9 in customer satisfaction. According to McGee-Smith, “the addition of workforce optimization to the NICE inContact CXone platform was a great accomplishment in 2017” and “having NICE workforce elements tightly integrated with NICE inContact’s cloud contact center application is what many types of customers are looking for.” Bucci adds that it “has a complete product line that is well integrated and stands out for its innovative use of advanced analytics technology.”


Once again, ZOOM International falls just short of the leaderboard. It posted a 4.1 in customer satisfaction and scores of 3.6 in company direction and cost, but it struggled in depth of functionality (3.2). To its credit, the company “has been successful by basically sticking to the fundamentals, providing a complete suite of reliable, economical, easy-to-use workforce optimization applications backed by outstanding customer care,” Bucci says.

[Editor's note: The overall award rating is based on a composite score of analyst ratings for customer satisfaction, depth of functionality, company direction, and cost. For the cost score, analysts gave the highest marks to vendors with the lowest expected costs. Company revenues were also factored into the overall score, but these numbers are not included in the chart above.]

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