The 2014 CRM Service Leaders
The contact center workforce optimization (WFO) solutions market continued its growth streak through much of 2013, increasing 3.7 percent to go from $615.4 million in the first half of 2012 to $638.4 million in the first half of 2013, a rise of 3.7 percent, according to DMG Consulting. The analyst firm expects growth to continue through 2016, particularly as vendors invest to make their products easier to use and look toward incorporating analytics, mobile, and video into their suites.
As the market grows, analysts expect vendors to continue adding substance to their offerings. In today's climate, companies expect their contact center WFO vendors to offer quality monitoring and assurance and interaction recording, as well as at least two additional applications, DMG concluded in its "2013 Workforce Optimization Mid-Year Market Share Report," adding that, increasingly, companies are also expecting these modules to be integrated so that they can share data.
Aspect Software, in a repeat visit to the leaderboard, continues to impress, with scores of 4.3 in company direction and 4.1 in customer satisfaction, though analysts did point to limited functionality within its offering; its average score there was 3.5. But that is starting to change under new company leadership. "Aspect continues to have a strong offering that it is continually improving upon," says Paul Stockford, chief analyst at Saddletree Research. "Expect to see Aspect's WFO...evolve this year. I continue to be impressed by the direction Aspect's management is taking the company."
Calabrio, last year's One to Watch, moved up in the rankings this year to take a leadership position, bolstered by scores of 3.9 in depth of functionality, company direction, and cost. "For a midsized company, Calabrio continues to make a lot of noise in the market," Stockford says. "This is a company that is on the move, and it's moving in the right direction."
An important factor in that move, says Dick Bucci, principal analyst at Pelorus Associates, was the strategic decision to expand not only in the Cisco contact center environment but also to include other providers, such as Avaya. An early adopter of the Web 2.0 architecture, most analysts agree that the company is the hands-down leader in ease of use because of that as well.
NICE Systems, a perpetual fixture on the WFO leaderboard, made some creative moves in 2013, which proved to be a dual-edged sword with some analysts. While its depth of functionality score was 4.0, Stockford likened NICE's WFO offering to "a jigsaw puzzle with pieces that don't fit together well."
But that's starting to change, according to Bucci, who says NICE is "doing a much more effective job of integrating the functionality and operation of acquired technology."
Beyond that, its greatest strength is in company direction, where it scored a 4.3. Its score in price, however, was among the lowest in the industry, at 3.2. And that could adversely affect the entire market. "As a market leader, NICE tends to be a price setter rather than a price follower," Bucci comments.
Verint Systems, which some analysts have credited with pioneering the WFO concept, consistently takes the top spot in the industry, and this year is no exception. "Verint is a company at the top of its game," Stockford says, "with a strong product line, brilliant strategic acquisitions, and a clear vision of the market and where [it] intends to fit into that market."
The company garnered an industry-leading 4.6 in depth of functionality, 4.7 in company direction, and 4.4 in customer satisfaction. John Ragsdale, vice president of technology research at the Technology Services Industry Association, calls Verint's offering "an impressive analysis platform for voice, text, sentiment, etc."
"Verint has an offering for every WFO application and market segment...and provides superior integration and ease of use," Bucci adds. "Verint is ahead of the game with its new applications for addressing specific business problems and what it is doing with mobile."
ONE TO WATCH
Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, a company that made the leaderboard in the past two years, fell a bit as analysts tried to pin down its company direction, where it only scored a 3.5. "I cannot classify Genesys as a WFO company, largely because it lacks a quality management application and [voice-of-the-customer] capability," Bucci contends. "Its primary product focus is on self-service, workforce management, and call distribution." Stockford agrees. "WFO doesn't appear to fit into Genesys' current market strategy, with the exception of the questionable acquisition of Utopy," he says. But Genesys has made some good moves as well. "It's good to see some focus outside large enterprises, with new products for small and medium-sized contact centers," Ragsdale says.
Contact Center Search
As companies continue looking for solutions capable of searching and analyzing customer data across multiple channels, vendors are stepping up their game to deliver powerful yet practical offerings. With search becoming more advanced, ease of use now plays a crucial role. Regardless of the in-depth search capabilities on the back end, "agents [still] need to be able to find accounts, cases, and knowledge items—typically the things that they really need most," Mitch Kramer, senior vice president and analyst at the Patricia Seybold Group, says. Companies that struck a balance between complex and intuitive solutions excelled this year, as did those that delivered solid indexing functionality to complement search capabilities.
Coveo returned to our leaderboard this year, performing impressively across all categories. The company has become a "must-have" technology for support organizations, according to John Ragsdale, vice president of technology research at the Technology Services Industry Association. "Their technology automates much of the implementation, lowering cost and speeding up the process," he says. "Coveo's continued expansion, particularly the Salesforce.com plug-in, brings the vendor to a larger audience with each release, Ragsdale adds. Still, despite earning a respectable 3.9 in company direction, Coveo "has struggled to explain its very powerful technology and make its value resonate in the marketplace," according to Kate Leggett, principal analyst at Forrester Research.
Since we named it our One to Watch last year, eGain has been gathering momentum. The company's search capabilities round out its fully featured platform and enable customers to extend eGain's already strong knowledge management features to the rest of the content in the enterprise, according to Ragsdale. "EGain continues to be one of the only knowledge management vendors that pushed back at acquirers to maintain their own product direction and ownership," he adds. The company received a 3.8 in customer satisfaction and a 4.0 for depth of functionality, but earned only a 3.5 for company direction. "Though a very good product, it is not customer-customizable, and not a core selling feature," Michael Maoz, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, says.
Last year's winner, InQuira, fell short this year, largely because the company has lost much of its visibility since Oracle acquired it in July 2011. Though analysts were optimistic last year, this year most are more cautious. "InQuira has a very powerful and very complex search engine, but its technology is essentially unchanged since the Oracle acquisition, so it's hard to say anything about company direction," Kramer says. Still, the company continues to earn high marks for depth of functionality, dropping only slightly, from 4.8 to 4.5 this year.
Though it was a leader in the contact center search category for the first time last year, Salesforce.com beat out the competition this year, earning its highest mark—a 4.6—in the company direction category. "Salesforce.com's platform vision takes it to a usage far beyond traditional CRM. Even though its execution has changed over the years, it has stayed true to its vision," Leggett says. With the introduction of the Salesforce1 Service Cloud at Dreamforce in November, Salesforce.com continues to innovate in the customer service space. Though still fairly new, the Salesforce1 Service Cloud promises to improve search capability and make the process even more practical and intuitive for agents.
Analysts have shown excitement about Salesforce1's new Service Cloud 1 Touch solution, which, thanks to Salesforce1's Customer Platform APIs, enables companies to build and embed a service component into any product, app, or other customer-facing experience. Once it is fully rolled out, the Intelligent Service technology will allow agents to resolve cases faster by providing them with actionable insights, determining relevant experts, and offering related resources from databases. Salesforce.com is innovating heavily in this realm, and analysts agree that the company's future in the contact center space looks bright.
ONE TO WATCH
Oracle RightNow slipped off our leaderboard but secured a spot in the One to Watch position. Some analysts state that following the acquisition of InQuira, Oracle is working toward de-emphasizing the search engine and slowly weaning users off. "Oracle is not moving toward development with any momentum," Maoz says. As a result, the company's score for overall direction remained stagnant at 3.5, despite an impressive jump from 2.9 to 3.5 between 2011 and 2012. Though Oracle's plans for RightNow are unknown, analysts suggest it's worth keeping an eye on where the company is headed.