The 2015 CRM Service Leaders: Workforce Optimization

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The Market

Growth for contact center workforce optimization (WFO) carried on throughout 2014, though to a lesser extent than it had the previous year. According to DMG Consulting's 2014 "WFO Mid-Year Market Share Report," revenue for this market grew by 12.8 percent, from $638.4 million in the first half of 2013 to $720.3 million by the first half of 2014.

Analysts agreed that while WFO remains a necessary offering for organizations that are concerned with optimizing customer experience and streamlining staffing, two prominent areas—quality assurance and recording—are mature, and solutions are prevalent. Growth trajectories will likely be influenced in the coming years by replacement cycles and the rising use of cloud-based solutions.

The Leaders

Aspect Software continues to be an influential force, showing improvement in functionality, where it scored a 4.1. Analysts agreed that this was largely thanks to its decision to focus on entering the cloud, which Ian Jacobs, senior analyst at Forrester Research, called a "smart play" in an email, even though it is still only in its early stages. In an email to CRM magazine, Paul Stockford, senior analyst at Saddletree Research, called the company "one of the great comeback stories of the industry, with current management driving the company back to prosperity and industry leadership." Leslie Ament, senior vice president and principal analyst at Hypatia Research Group, listed Aspect as one of her "big three" along with NICE and Verint, in an email, pointing out, though, that one area Aspect and the others struggle with is cost.

Calabrio hangs on to its spot on the leaderboard for the second straight year. It earned scores of 4.0 in both customer satisfaction and depth of functionality. According to Stockford, Calabrio "has earned the reputation as an innovator and proved it again in 2014 with the introduction of Dynamic Scheduling."

Though direction was Calabrio's lowest score, at 3.9, and the lowest of any company to make the leaderboard as well, analysts were optimistic about its future. The company's "partner relationships...have the potential to take the company as far as it wants to go," Stockford said. "They are well-managed, fiscally sound, and [have demonstrated] exceptionally high growth over the past year," Jacobs stated, adding that it is "perhaps the most intriguing company in WFO right now."

NICE Systems makes an unsurprising appearance on the WFO leaderboard, as it continues to provide solid functionality. In this criterion, it scored 4.5. Sheila McGee-Smith, president and principal analyst of McGee-Smith Analytics, noted in an email that "NICE's approach to customer journey management has been market-leading."

Other analysts lauded the company for its "expanded analytics" and "focus on real-time" efforts that they claim make the company stand out in the market.

Though NICE showed slight improvement in the price department, lifting last year's 3.2 cost score to a 3.6, it was still the company's lowest score. According to Jacobs, it's "always [been] seen as an expensive option."

The Winner

Verint Systems maintains its streak as the titleholder in this category, continuing to "be the gold standard for WFO," as Stockford puts it. John Ragsdale, vice president of technology research at the Technology Services Industry Association, stated in his 2014 Global Technology Survey that Verint's solution is most used by large enterprises. The company led by a wide margin in both direction and depth of functionality, scoring 4.5 and 4.7, respectively. Stockford maintained it is "highly innovative, with a keen sense of understanding exactly what the market is looking for in order to optimize the customer experience." Though the company was a little behind in customer satisfaction, with a 3.4, he added that "their market-leading engagement analytics platform is setting the standard for understanding the customer."

"Verint keeps adding real strength to its product portfolio, has smart partnerships, and has begun to explain (and actually demonstrate) the benefits its Kana acquisition can bring to its traditional customers—and vice versa," Jacobs stated in an email. Still struggling with cost, the company weighed in at 3.8 in that category.

One to Watch

InContact, though not quite in the top four, scored highest of all vendors in customer satisfaction, at 4.1. Its second highest score is 4.0 for company direction, which analysts attributed in large part to its acquisition of Uptivity in May 2014. The company will likely see more WFO adopters, Jacobs stated, because increasingly customers have been turning to a company's WFO offerings if they're already using the vendor's cloud-based contact center. This puts the company in a good position moving forward. "It's inContact's time to shine in WFO," Jacobs added.

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