• August 10, 2007
  • By Colin Beasty, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

NEC's Buy o'Sphere Expands the Ecosystem

NEC has acquired U.S.-based Sphere Communications, a unified communications software developer, for an undisclosed amount, the companies said Thursday. NEC will use Sphere as a core technology in its new communications services for business and to bolster its unified communications portfolio. Sphere Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Charles Pearson, who came out of retirement to launch the company in 1994, will leave and Sphere's 38 employees will be retained, according to NEC. Sphere Communications provides open access to its unified communications capabilities utilizing industry-standard Web services that adapt to a services-oriented architecture (SOA), according to the company. "As a leader and visionary, NEC continues to drive the changes that are necessary to offer the market's most advanced and innovative solutions," said Yasuhiro Watanabe, general manager, UC Software Development Division of NEC, in a statement. "Sphere Communications is [now] a part of NEC's global network of companies. [Its] cutting edge technologies will further strengthen NEC's enterprise network software offerings and allow us to continue our position as a market leader." "We are excited to become part of NEC's enterprise solutions business," said Graeme Robinson, president of Sphere Communications, in a statement. "It's clear that our combined strengths will deliver innovative technologies that can deliver the most powerful suite of enterprise communications solutions available in the market." Ian Jacobs, a senior analyst with Frost & Sullivan, says the acquisition is a continuation of an industry trend: vendors beefing up their unified communications offerings via acquisitions. Jacobs cites SAP's acquisition of Wicom Communications in May as another example. "Both companies are essentially getting the same thing," Jacobs says. "Only SAP with Wicom is approaching it from the business-applications side of things while NEC is coming from the telephony side of things." The acquisition of Wicom, a privately held provider of IP-contact center and enterprise communications software, allowed the German software giant to offer organizations the ability to better integrate communications technologies and business systems to more effectively serve customers, according to SAP. The transaction is also expected to help customers streamline the integration of disparate hardware and software components while allowing them to centrally manage and report dispersed resources and processes. Each firm's newly acquired technology will make it possible to "add flexibility to their product offerings," Jacobs says. "While IP PBX and related technologies [aren't] the final answer to unified communications, it's providing NEC customers with yet another option when it comes to unified communications and linking CRM systems into the contact center." Related articles: SAP Zeroes In On the Contact Center With M&A
The company acquires Finland's Wicom Communications. Oracle Gets to Work The software giant acquires Telephony@Work for its IP-based technology, a move that might represent a shift within the call center industry, according to one analyst. SAP and Microsoft Will Duet Again The two juggernauts are deepening their partnership, making available future versions of Duet software for Microsoft Office and SAP. Cisco and Salesforce.com Get Connected The communications infrastructure vendor and the on-demand CRM provider announce Unified CallConnector. Avaya Launches Unified Communications ''Editions'' A suite approach to offerings and the acquisition of a mobile unified communications solutions company will strengthen Avaya's presence.
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