Convergence in the Contact Center Market

Concerto Software has acquired CenterForce Technologies for an undisclosed price, and Convergys has purchased a pair of Singapore firms, also for an undisclosed amount. Contact center solutions provider Concerto and CenterForce, which offers performance optimization and workforce management software, have been partners for nearly a decade. The acquisition will solidify Concerto's offerings, according to Steve Herlocher, Concerto vice president of marketing. CenterForce's workforce and contact center management software work well with Concerto's contact channel products, including ACD, IVR and email solutions, Herlocher says. "We're looking to become one of the top providers in the contact center industry," Herlocher says. "We feel we have a number of strengths, and some holes to fill." Existing integration between their products will be significantly expanded, according to the two companies. "We're already integrated with most of our products," Herlocher adds. "This acquisition will provide incremental value." Katrina Howell, industry analyst for Frost & Sullivan, agrees: "Over the past few years there's been a trend toward integrated end-to-end suites, with integration of technologies to deliver calls and technologies to help manage agents." According to Howell, purchasers of these products--particularly smaller companies providing call center services--prefer to buy from a single vendor, because they tend to receive better prices and have fewer integration challenges with the technology. However, the acquisition will present some challenges for Concerto as well, according to Steve Blood, an analyst for Gartner. "This is an interesting acquisition in that it enables Concerto to emulate solutions of competitors, such as Aspect and Genesys, both of which also provide comprehensive contact management and workforce management solutions for enterprises," Blood says. "The challenge for Concerto will be to integrate CenterForce to become a valuable component of its portfolio." This marks the second recent business deal by Concerto, which merged with Melita International in late February. The CenterForce software applications also integrate well with the Melita contact center technologies, Herlocher states. In other acquisition news Convergys, which provides integrated billing, employee care, and customer care services, purchased two Singapore-based firms, Out-Smart and i-Benefits. Out-Smart is an independent provider of human resources, payroll, and benefits administration outsourcing to companies operating in the Asia Pacific region; i-Benefits provides human resources and benefits services in the same part of the world. According to Howell, these deals are part of a trend toward larger outsourcing companies acquiring smaller ones. Howell also says that potential clients prefer to purchase most, if not all, of their outsourced services from a single supplier. According to Convergys the acquisitions leverage its integrated technology platform for its global clients. The goal is to expand its payroll and benefits outsourcing capabilities internationally. Out-Smart and i-Benefits have a diverse group of more than 100 clients covering all industry segments throughout the Asia Pacific region with offices in Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Singapore.
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