The 2016 CRM Service Leaders: Workforce Optimization

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Growth for contact center workforce optimization (WFO) stagnated in 2015, as the major IT market segments—quality assurance and recording—have been substantially penetrated. According to DMG Consulting's 2015 "WFO Mid-Year Market Share Report," revenue for the first half of 2015 totaled $712.7 million, a dip from the $720.3 million tallied during the same period in 2014.

Optimizing staff performance remains key within contact centers, but the market is shifting toward a desire for analytics-driven solutions that enable companies to improve and personalize each customer interaction. The coming years are expected to be slow in WFO, both for established leaders and up-and-comers, with most of the growth originating from the back-office sector.


While Aspect Software has been busy expanding into market areas outside of WFO, analysts agree that the vendor continues to provide a solid offering in this department. Introducing user interface updates and improving usability last year, Aspect posted its highest score in customer satisfaction (4.1). But as Ian Jacobs, senior analyst at Forrester Research, sees it, some customers are "getting a little impatient" waiting for the company's "transformation." He does note that enhancements to Aspect ZipWire show promise, and Aspect's partnership with LiveVox shows "a willingness to tackle the cloud from numerous angles." Paul Stockford, principal analyst at Saddletree Research, notes the company’s reliable reputation in the market, remarking, "No one will ever get fired for recommending Aspect WFO."

Genesys—a "longtime innovator," according to John Ragsdale, vice president of technology and social research for the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA)—has landed back on the leaderboard after dropping off last year. The company's highest score came in customer satisfaction (3.8), yet like many of the category's leaders, Genesys still struggles with cost (3.3). Another issue has been functionality (3.3)—Stockford laments some of the company's acquisitions, as they are "pushed into the same portfolio without any real thought behind how they will work together." Jacobs, on the other hand, commends the company's direction, noting that linking WFO and routing solutions "shows huge promise." Also important, notes Sheila McGee-Smith, principal analyst at McGee-Smith Analytics, was the company's investment in a knowledge management system last year.

InContact struggled this year more than any other vendor to satisfy its customers, evidenced by its comparatively low score in customer satisfaction (3.5). Eighteen months after its 2014 acquisition of cloud-based contact center services provider Uptivity, the company "has gotten better at market segmentation between its Verint-based offer and its own offer (based on the Uptivity acquisition)," Jacobs says. Stockford says that this makes inContact hard to judge, as Verint "is state of the art," whereas inContact's native offerings are "basic at best." Dick Bucci, founder and president of Pelorus Associates, notes that "the attempt to transition legacy customers to the cloud model has met with resistance, particularly among Uptivity channel partners."

NICE Systems posted the lowest cost score (3.1), which the vendor made up for with a high score in functionality (4.2). More than one analyst referred to NICE’s technology as "sophisticated," with Jacobs noting that the company's "full slate of WFO functionality" has scaled up to the very largest of contact centers. McGee-Smith notes that the company is missing a strong cloud offering, which has prevented it from reaching small to midsize businesses. Jacobs adds that the company is "working on overcoming its 'customer-friendliness problems,' but this change will be a slow process."


Verint Systems continues to hold the title, scoring highest among the leaders in depth of functionality (4.7). Stockford says that the vendor is "leading the market in the evolution of WFO to customer service management and customer experience optimization." Jacobs agrees, saying that Verint "has been a leader in showing the future direction of the customer service technology market in which WFO, routing, and customer service apps vendors will all be converging." The company "continues to strengthen its already robust product line and has recruited and maintained partners that add real value to customers," Jacobs adds.


Calabrio may have been bumped from its spot on the board this year, but it is on the right path, analysts maintain. "Calabrio is…undergoing rapid growth, much of it due to their innovative approach to WFO," Stockford says. Analysts say that Calabrio has benefited from close ties to companies like Cisco, Avaya, and Interactive Intelligence. "They provide their WFO solution to Cisco on an OEM basis as well as offering it as a Calabrio-branded solution," Stockford points out; this has lent the company extensive market reach. The company earned its lowest score in depth of functionality (3.7), but Jacobs notes that its "unified suite approach has helped it in competitive displacements of the big boys in several key accounts." 

[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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