The 2008 CRM Service Awards: Workforce Optimization Suite

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The Market Consolidation is all the rage in workforce optimization (WFO), the umbrella term that includes quality monitoring (QM), workforce management (WFM), performance management (PM), and e-learning. Verint Systems' acquisition of Witness Systems, as well as Nice Systems' acquisitions of IEX and Performix, has led to monumental shifts in the WFO market -- and to the Service Awards landscape. QM is no longer its own category, due to the trend toward suite solutions encompassing all (or most) aspects of WFO. "People are talking about the suites right now," explains Paul Stockford, chief analyst at Saddletree Research. "Workforce management, like most other markets now, has very few point solutions out there." Click here for full-size image

One to Watch While etalk was a One to Watch for the QM category in last year's Service Awards, the company's acquisition by Autonomy in April 2005 allows Autonomy etalk to stay relevant in the market's shift toward suite solutions -- and it's our One to Watch for the WFO Suite category. "Autonomy's platform melds very well and holds great promise for the kinds of data integration that are going to go beyond the contact center to really sophisticated analytics," Dawson explains. "I see really great promise here -- they know what they're doing." The Leaders The consolidation of Verint and Witness opens the door for a new vendor to become a leader, and Aspect Software answered the call, moving up after being One to Watch in each of the past two years. Innovation -- for example, the creation of its WFO umbrella product PerformanceEdge -- is a tremendous boost for Aspect. "They have been very innovative in the way they have put their platform together by bringing both an outbound and inbound solution to the WFO concept," Stockford says. "They are clearly the leaders in outbound technologies and solutions, and it was a smart move on their part to bring that in and make that part of an overall solution." Aspect stumbles in depth of functionality, its 3.9 score the lowest among the category's leaders. "Aspect is the market-share leader in WFM but only a minor player in interaction recording and PM," says Dick Bucci, senior consultant for The Pelorus Group. "Coaching, learning, PM, and speech analytics are largely partner-based. They do not have a survey tool, and there are no product offers for the small-to-midsize contact centers." Look for Aspect to strengthen its offerings to keep pace with other vendors. Nice Systems dropped from its spot atop the category last year to a still-respectable leader slot -- but analysts stress that Nice isn't likely to fall far. "The thing about the competition between Nice and Verint is that it has prodded both companies," says Keith Dawson, senior analyst at Frost & Sullivan. "It does exactly what competition is supposed to do: They've both made moves to amplify and improve [their] product base and customer base, and they're both better off for being in competition with each other." Last year we said to watch closely as Nice and Verint both dealt with integrating acquisitions. Analysts say that while the two are very closely matched in the WFO market, Nice is still integrating all the parts of its WFO suite with elements of IEX and Performix. "The challenge is getting these diverse applications to integrate harmoniously with the flagship Nice Perform platform," Bucci explains, adding that Nice is answering that challenge with a services-oriented architecture (SOA). "This software-design model enables design groups to operate autonomously as long as they adhere to SOA," he says. "SOA is the glue that binds them together." The Winner Verint Systems takes the winner's position in this category, sweeping all three ratings, but analysts are careful to note that it's about more than just the Witness Systems acquisition -- it's how Verint handled the acquisition and the integration. "Considering what could have been a really ugly situation, you just didn't even know anything was happening," Stockford explains, adding that the company "never missed a beat, kept right on moving, came out quickly with a strategy, and brought in some additional capabilities like the caller satisfaction survey." Depth of functionality is a tremendous strong point for Verint; its 4.8 score led the pack -- a half-point ahead of the closest competitor. "Verint has strong offerings in each WFM application," Bucci explains. "They are the market-share leaders in interaction recording, PM, and e-learning -- and the overall market leader in combined WFO sales. Its solutions are noteworthy for breadth of functionality, seamless integration, and easy-to-use, intuitive user interfaces." After a meteoric rise to the top of the WFO market, watch closely to see if Verint can stay in the winner's circle next year.
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