The 2010 CRM Service Awards: Service Leaders -- Workforce Optimization Suite

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The market for workforce optimization (WFO) suites—which include analytics, e-learning, performance management, quality monitoring, and workforce management—is rapidly maturing in its third year as a category. So much so, argues Ian Jacobs, senior analyst of customer interaction technologies at Ovum, that companies are looking to utilize WFO outside the contact center. “Clearly that’s a good business for the vendors, as it greatly increases their addressable market,” he adds. The shift also opens the door to new players, such as Envision Telephony and Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories. 


Aspect Software keeps its place on the leaderboard for the third straight year, making great gains in its depth of functionality (3.7) after coming in last among the leaders in 2009. Its multiple acquisitions to expand the PerformanceEdge product in the past couple of years are starting to pay off. “Aspect has always been very aggressive in its functionality and pursuit of being best-of-breed…and has done a good job of making the switch to Internet Protocol,” says John Ragsdale, vice president of technology research for the Technology Services Industry Association. The strong score for functionality helped buoy the vendor, as it slipped in company direction (3.7), dead last among the leaders. Several analysts worry Aspect’s aggressive unified communications (UC) push means the company is moving away from its roots in the contact center. 

After its WFO category debut last year as our One to Watch, Envision Telephony bursts onto the leaderboard with scores of 4 or higher in each segment, making it a true threat to dethrone perennial market leader Verint Systems. Catering largely to small and midsize businesses, Envision jumped nearly a quarter point in its depth-of-functionality score, compared to 2009, a move analysts attribute to its rebranded Customer Centricity suite and the addition of InteractionIQ, a speech analytics component. “These guys are to the underserved midmarket what Verint is to the higher-end market,” says Paul Stockford, president of Saddletree Research. “The company is an absolute leader, with highly efficient speech analytics and workforce management products that will have a significant impact on the market.” 

For leaderboard mainstay Nice Systems, this year’s results are an example of “one step forward, one step back.” After being dinged in 2009 with the lowest customer satisfaction score among the leaders, the company at least moved ahead of Aspect this year, with a score of 3.9. Analysts say the vendor’s concerted effort—establishing a single point of customer contact, Web-based training—is paying dividends. Where the company slipped, though, was in depth of functionality, its score of 3.2 a half point behind the other leaders. Dick Bucci, senior consultant of The Pelorus Group, says there’s no doubt Nice has offerings across all of WFO—the problem is unification. “Nice does not offer a unified, single-platform WFO suite,” he says. “Product integration, in terms of product administration and user interface, is not as strong as Verint [Systems’].” 


Speaking of Verint Systems, the company may be making itself comfortable in this spot, notching its third consecutive win here. Having outpaced the competition in two of the three rating segments in 2009, this year Verint swept all three. After almost coming in third among leaders for customer satisfaction in 2009, this year’s score of 4.4 reflects vast improvement. Stockford says Verint’s addition of speech analytics and its recent partnership with SAP—the only WFO company to partner with the German giant—carries weight with clients. “Verint powered through the recession with the type of confidence that resonates with and creates trust among buyers,” Stockford says. “It has a state-of-the-art product, strong partnerships, clear vision for the future, strong management, and innovative [research and development]. These guys have it all.”  


The appearance of Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories in this category may surprise some, but the company has slashed its way into the One to Watch spot this year, with scores higher than 3 in each rating segment. While a low customer satisfaction score (3.1) kept Genesys from rising to the leaderboard, Ovum’s Jacobs says the company is well positioned to take advantage of the move to extend WFO beyond the contact center. “Genesys is trying to help companies get a handle on how work flows through processes at all stages,” he says. “Tying WFO technology into that is a natural fit.”

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