The 2017 CRM Service Leaders: Workforce Optimization

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The contact center workforce optimization (WFO) software market has reached a turning point. According to DMG Consulting’s 2016 “WFO Mid-Year Market Share Report,” the total company revenue for the top 42 competitors dropped almost $6 million between mid-2015, when it peaked at $1.75 billion, and mid-2016. And as revenue has fallen, mergers and acquisitions have risen—big time. DMG expects this activity to continue well into 2018, causing smaller vendors to play it safe and focus more on setting themselves up for a sale rather than innovating and investing in their futures.

Still, there are also opportunities for market expansion, particularly as WFO solutions move out of the contact center, which has traditionally been the key market for such solutions, to back offices and branch locations. Based on the success of such solutions in customer service, companies are now looking to the technology to help them lower costs, improve service quality, and improve customer experiences in other departments.


Aspect Software continues to hold a spot on the leaderboard, standing out for its company direction, where it earned its highest score (3.8). Paul Stockford, president and chief analyst at Saddletree Research, says the company is “pushing the envelope in the field of employee engagement, which will be critically important in 2017.” However, despite handling its Chapter 11 filing “about as well as any company possibly could, it still faces many challenges in expanding into a unified provider of WFO and routing,” says Ian Jacobs, senior analyst at Forrester Research. He mentions that the outfit has moved in some interesting directions, “building virtual assistants for agents to help them handle such chores as schedule requests, for example.” Dick Bucci, chief analyst at Pelorus Associates, adds that the company is “clearly in its ascendancy,” having beefed up its WFO functionality.

Calabrio earned good marks for direction (3.8) and overall functionality (3.7). Stockford calls the vendor “the rising star in the WFO market,” noting a laser focus on its market segment and a leadership that can get the company where it wants to go. “The sky’s the limit for them,” he states. “Calabrio is poised for continued growth and success. I’d advise their competition not to blink an eye or these guys will pass you by.” Jacobs lauds the company for its strong technology and relationships with customers. “Calabrio has also forged some interesting partnerships that expand their addressable base,” he says.

Genesys scored highest in company direction (3.4), but Bucci maintains that its true place in the WFO market is still unclear. “Genesys does not qualify as a true WFO vendor,” he holds, but its August acquisition of Interactive Intelligence “will add some much needed functionality.” Jacobs says the acquisition is helping Genesys expand its customer base. “Genesys’s workflows cross its WFO and routing solutions, allowing routing decisions to be based on an agent’s schedule state,” he says. “More companies need to recognize how powerful it can be to link routing and WFO.”

NICE posted its best scores for company direction (4.5) and depth of functionality (4.3). Analysts identified its acquisition of inContact, another WFO leader, as having a major impact on the sector. But, according to Stockford, the impact of the acquisitions on its WFO suite “remains to be seen.” Still, he expressed confidence that the company has the leadership that will lead it in the right direction. Its “focus on moving WFO to the cloud is a good indication of where NICE is headed in the future,” he says. Jacobs adds that the company stands out for its “unrivaled breadth” and “heavy-duty functionality.”


Verint Systems continues its long reign as the category leader, and for good reason, analysts agree. The company has been “relentless in [its] continual quest for WFO innovation and leadership,” Stockford notes, and represents “the gold standard” for the category. He singles out Verint’s Voice of Employee solution as one that pushes it “a nose ahead of the competition.” A measure of Verint’s overall strength: Its score in customer satisfaction (3.6) was only its third-highest, but it was the highest satisfaction score on the leaderboard. “When we talk to Verint customers about why they chose the vendor, many of them specifically cited the unification of its WFO suite,” Jacobs says. “Verint has knitted together all of the tools brands need to manage their customer service organizations into a unified whole.” 


ZOOM International emerges as this year’s one to watch. “Too few people have heard of them,” Bucci says, maintaining that, while it is a relatively small company, it is “an innovation leader in the WFO space.” Among its recent additions are video and telepresence recording and performance analytics.

[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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