The 2012 Service Leaders
Customer Case Management
This year we are introducing the Customer Case Management category—one that recently saw a few power plays. "Oracle buying RightNow Technologies [for $1.5 billion] was certainly a wake-up call that Web-focused customer support and service needs to be integral in a much-larger picture," says Ian Jacobs, principal analyst at Ovum.
In short, it's no longer good enough to go it alone in the game of support, or to silo your Web self-service, social, and live-agent service. "You need to be able to put all of them together in a holistic picture," Jacobs adds. But don't assume enterprises are lapping it all up yet. While 2010 saw an introduction to and early implementations of social and text-based support options, this year marked some maturity in firms melding them with more traditional support channels.
Oracle, which earned a coveted customer satisfaction score of 4.2, will be charged with keeping the high score next year, especially from its newly acquired RightNow Technologies customers. John Ragsdale, vice president of technology research for the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA), remarks that he's pleased to see the company "investing in tools such as RightNow, which can finally give them a dominant play for the mid-market." But its relevancy for a smaller company must be mentioned, and, as Jacobs says, "The bigger Oracle gets, the more trepidation there is about the cost of doing business with them." Many RightNow customers selected the company for a technology with laser-focus on customer service, Jacobs says, and "will have to re-evaluate whether the Oracle approach makes sense for them."
Rivaling Oracle's impressive customer satisfaction score is Parature, which garnered a 4.1. Paul Greenberg, president of The 56 Group, says this is a "little engine that could" kind of company. The maker of on-demand customer service and social engagement software has had a particularly loyal following of "gaming companies, with increasingly sophisticated capabilities and visionary leadership," Ragsdale notes. Parature crept onto the CRM magazine radar in 2009, when it took home a Rising Star award. The company continues to be recognized by satisfying customers with its "comprehensive set of customer service solutions," one analyst says.
SAP also scored well, earning a 3.9 in depth of functionality. Ragsdale was not shy in calling SAP's launch of the Web Channel Experience Solution "one of the sexiest product launches of 2011," a cross-enterprise solution that "incorporates customer-issue tracking and even self-service into the e-commerce process." Another analyst touts SAP's customer management solutions as "well-rounded" with deployments that are "large and complex."
Salesforce.com came out on top, with the highest company direction score (4.4) in this category. Analysts' praise for the company ranged from solid "time and resources earmarked to the advancement of their customer service and support product set" to "most visionary vendor" in overall direction, with an admirable execution of the Radian6 acquisition in November. The latter naturally amps up Salesforce.com's social media monitoring efforts. "With a fast, go-live, intuitive user interface, innovative features like Chatter and ideation, a rich ecosystem of partners, and low cost, Salesforce.com is leading the pack for incident or case management," Ragsdale notes. Though it is inherently a B2B vendor, Jacobs remarks that this was the year Salesforce.com really got serious about going after the B2C sector, independent even of the Radian6 acquisition. Another analyst agrees, citing a lack of "significant business-to-consumer workflows and functionality," but notes a rapid improvement on Salesforce.com's part. What the $276 million Radian6 transaction did indicate to Jacobs was that "they [Salesforce] were more serious about having a full suite where sales, marketing, and service" were integrated across the board.
Ones to Watch:
Pegasystems and eGain closely tailed the rest of the case management pack, dually earning strong customer satisfaction scores. The analyst consensus appears to be, "For what they do, they do it well." Pegasystems earned a 3.8 in customer satisfaction, but one analyst reports "deep email, chat [and] knowledge management capabilities are missing." For Pegasystems' core verticals, Ragsdale thinks it's a "strong showing [with] process-thinking that could play equally well in other industries." As for eGain, which also scored a 3.8 in customer satisfaction, Jacobs maintains the recent deployment of eGain 10 for Cisco Unified Contact Center Express foreshadows "where they need to be going."
Contact Center Infrastructure
The recent economic collapse drove many companies to rethink their approaches to contact center routing and queuing technologies, paving the way for strong growth in the hosted contact center infrastructure market.
Furthermore, many enterprises are now identifying synergies between their customer-facing contact center infrastructure and software solutions and have started rolling out fax, email, chat, and voice, video, and Web conferencing together. Contact center infrastructure vendors are responding by expanding their solutions portfolios to incorporate capabilities that include interactive voice response (IVR), outbound dialers, contact center workforce management, recording, e-learning, Web chat, email response management, live and prerecorded video, desktop collaboration, analytics, and workflow.
The contact center infrastructure market has reached maturity in North America, Western Europe, and developed portions of Asia/Pacific, where most installments are expansions or replacements of existing systems. However, contact center infrastructure is still an emerging technology in many up-and-coming markets, most notably Brazil, Russia, India, and China, where analysts expect to see double-digit compounded annual growth rates through 2015.
Avaya lays claim to the largest share of the contact center infrastructure market, so it should come as no surprise that it leads the industry in depth of functionality, with a score of 4.2, just a fraction of a point ahead of its closest competitors. It took a hit, however, in cost, with a low score of 3.0, and continues to struggle in company direction. Part of the reason is that it "continues to work through infrastructure rationalization issues," according to Paul Stockford of Saddletree Research. Sheila McGee-Smith, president and principal analyst at McGee-Smith Analytics, adds, "Its road maps look good, but customers will look for Avaya to do a better job meeting published dates in 2012 than it did in 2011."
Cisco Systems, which took the top spot in the contact center infrastructure field last year, fell this year after taking a hit on cost as well. Nonetheless, the company, which scored a 4.2 in depth of functionality, continues to break new ground in its support for Web 2.0 architectures and browser- and network-based offerings, and its efficient integrations. Couple that with what McGee-Smith calls "lots of we'll-be-number-one bravado," and Cisco is in a much stronger position today than it was a year or two ago.
"In the past couple of years, Cisco has rocketed past the competition with a sharp focus on the future of the contact center and the demonstrated ability to deliver on its vision," Stockford adds. "Cisco seems to be committed to keeping the leading edge of its infrastructure offering razor sharp."
Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories reappears on the leaderboard this year after a tumultuous 2011 that saw it finish as a one to watch. A big reason for the changing sentiment toward the perennial contact center powerhouse this year is its emergence from the shadows of Alcatel-Lucent following its acquisition by British private equity firm Permira in late 2011. With that move, the company "has some catching up to do," and needs to update its strategy, Stockford maintains. Nonetheless, it scored very well in depth of functionality and customer satisfaction, with scores of 4.2 and 3.8, respectively.
Interactive Intelligence has finally emerged as a serious contender in this category, with the top scores in the industry in company direction (4.3), customer satisfaction (4.2), and cost (3.9). And while its depth of functionality score was a fraction of a point behind Genesys, Avaya, and Cisco Systems, McGee-Smith says it still wins her vote for best-in-class. "From a solutions perspective, it's the broadest in the industry," she says. "And from a thought leadership position, [Interactive Intelligence] is always expanding the reach of core contact center technologies into the enterprise."
One to Watch:
Purely cloud-based contact center solutions provider inContact is this year's dark horse, having never before appeared as a blip on the analysts' and consultants' radar screen. Keith Dawson, an analyst at Ovum, says the company, along with a few other hosted players, like LiveOps and EchoPass, is a "really strong infrastructure choice for contact centers in a way that they weren't five years ago." He says the company will help lead the industry to a greater on-premises/hosted parity in the next couple of years. As that dynamic develops further, McGee-Smith expects inContact to double in size this year. She already calls it "the standout hosted-only player of the year."
Interactive Voice Response
After disappointing growth in 2009 and moderate growth in 2010, the global interactive voice response (IVR) market is rebounding nicely and is expected to reach $2.78 billion by 2017, according to Global Industry Analysts (GIA). The world market for IVR systems is currently valued at about $1.5 billion and is projected to see roughly 10 percent compounded annual growth during the next five years, GIA's research found. That growth will be driven by a strong upswing in outbound IVR technologies, new pricing strategies that place a greater emphasis on hosted offerings, and greater development using open standards like VoiceXML, GIA reports.
The United States remains the largest IVR market, growing at a rate of slightly more than 10 percent per year, but increasing opportunities from developing markets—especially in Asia and the Pacific—bode well for the market, GIA concluded.
While large enterprises have traditionally been the sweet spot for the IVR systems market, small and midsized businesses are expected to drive future growth. Opportunities among call centers with 25 to 46 ports represent the fastest-growing product segment, the analysts reported.
After taking the top spot for the past seven years, Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories lost its standing as the category winner this year. As is usually the case, Genesys earned very high marks in both depth of functionality and company direction, but its scores of 4.0 in both judging criteria could not top those of the category winner. Paul Stockford of Saddletree Research thinks the company has some catching up to do as it breaks away from Alcatel-Lucent. "I believe they have shown the wherewithal to regain market leadership; they just need to be allowed to do it," he says.
Genesys's main release this year was Conversation Manager, a tool designed to help businesses integrate their IVRs into other parts of the customer communication process and to use customer context and business rules to better steer the conversation. Sheila McGee-Smith, president and principal analyst at McGee-Smith Analytics, has high hopes for the company because of it. That solution, she says, will take deployments "beyond the technology to full functionality."
Microsoft/Tellme entered the leaderboard for the first time this year with an industry-leading score of 4.0 in customer satisfaction. It also ranked high in the other criteria. Even on cost, where the company fell short in the past, it saw a turnaround this year. As with most Microsoft products, the Tellme IVR platform did take a hit in the ratings this year as it continues to struggle with customization and integration with other software outside of the Microsoft domain.
Voxeo continues to impress, and this year led the industry in company direction, with a score of 4.2, and cost, with a 3.9 score. The company's greatest sphere of influence in the market, though, is in the area of multichannel self-service—integrating phone, text, mobile, Web, chat, and social network interactions—and multiple deployment options, including fully hosted, on-premises, or a hybrid of the two. Analysts and consultants also like the company's strong focus on personalizing applications and enabling cross-channel analytics via one source. The company pushed the technology envelope just a bit in 2011 with the release of Prophecy 11, which adds high-definition audio and fax support.
Cisco Systems captures the top spot in the IVR space after making the leaderboard in 2009 and being named one to watch in 2010. This year's category winner makes a significant leap in one year, as it did not even place in the top five in 2011.
The company stood out this year in company direction and depth of functionality, with scores of 4.1 and 4.0, respectively, and analysts expect Cisco to make an even deeper push in the IVR market this year. "As part of [Cisco's] Customer Collaboration Suite, Cisco IVR will be a force to be reckoned with," Stockford predicts. "Cisco's commitment to leadership in the contact center industry is apparent in its Web 2.0 strategy that brings traditional solutions, such as IVR, together with customer collaboration solutions, such as social media channels."
One to Watch:
Aspect Software is this year's surprise story, with a 4.2 score in depth of functionality. Stockford notes that its standalone, proprietary product rivals that of other large IVR companies, but calls it "the most open platform" among them. The company also competes on cost, with a solution set that doesn't require a lot of hardware, middleware, or infrastructure. But its strengths go beyond that. "Aspect has clearly put a lot of thought and effort into the development of its IVR solution," Stockford says. "Not only is it well-positioned for the future, I think Aspect represents the future of both inbound and outbound IVR."
As more consumers go to the Web for customer support, demand continues to rise for solutions supporting social media, email, Web chat and forums, and FAQ pages. Expect significant growth in the Web support market, says Aphrodite Brinsmead, analyst of customer interactions technologies at Ovum. "Enterprises need to support customers…ensuring that self-service and community tools are easy to use and provide accurate, consistent information," she says. "This is creating a demand for Web support tools, and Ovum expects significant growth within the Web support market over the next couple of years. There will be further integration and consolidation among knowledge management, social media, CRM, and workforce optimization providers."
EGain came in strong with a 4.2 for customer satisfaction and a 4.3 for depth of functionality. For company direction, it struggled once again with a 3.2, compared to last year's 3.3.
"EGain has done an amazing job of building out their suite to achieve 'best of breed' status across…knowledge management, multichannel support, social media, and enterprise search," says John Ragsdale, vice president of technology research for the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA).
Kate Leggett, senior analyst at Forrester Research, says eGain offers "an excellent and complete Web support solution which is particularly strong in knowledge management." She also notes that eGain gives customers "flexibility of choice" with its on-premises and on-demand deployment models. In January 2012, eGain Chairman and CEO Ashutosh Roy and CFO Eric Smit rang the closing bell at the NASDAQ MarketSite, marking the company's listing on the stock exchange as EGAN.
Analysts boosted last year's one to watch, Moxie Software (formerly nGenera), onto the leaderboard this year. The company saw an increase in depth of functionality from 3.8 to 4.0. Its company direction also zoomed up, from 3.3 to 3.9.
"Moxie's continual push to add sophistication…is finding success with larger deals at larger companies," says Ragsdale.
Mitch Kramer, senior vice president of the Patricia Seybold Group, calls Moxie's knowledge management system rich and flexible. "It has a strong Autonomy-based search engine and social channel integration.…[and] knows where it wants to go with social media, Web support, and [KM] capabilities."
RightNow Technologies was last year's winner, and once again received 4.0s in customer satisfaction and depth of functionality. "RightNow's platform has been an easy choice for consumer firms," Ragsdale says. "It will be interesting to see if they will beef up the platform to appeal to Oracle's more enterprise-class customer base."
For company direction, RightNow saw a decline from 3.5 to 3.0. Several analysts pointed to their uncertainty about Oracle's acquisition as the reason behind the score. Although Leggett says RightNow is "particularly strong in the social channels due to their HiveLive acquisition [and has] a very loyal fan base," she admits Oracle's acquisition worries her.
"There is a mismatch between the Oracle and RightNow company cultures," writes Leggett in a blog post. "This threatens to put RightNow employees and customers at risk unless this culture gap is bridged." Leggett says Oracle must decide how to invest in its overlapping solutions, including RightNow.
Salesforce.com edged past RightNow with a 4.0 in company direction, a 3.8 in customer satisfaction, and a 3.5 in depth of functionality. This is the first time the company has won a Service Leader award (in fact, two). Salesforce.com previously won awards in the Service Elite and Rising Star categories.
Salesforce.com expanded its offerings through several acquisitions in 2011, including Radian6, Rypple, and Model Metrics. It claims to have hosted the largest conference in the enterprise software industry at Dreamforce 2011, with 46,000 registrants.
"Though Salesforce.com is missing some complexity around knowledge management solutions," Ragsdale notes, "their market share continues to grow as companies love their quick and easy implementations and intuitive UI design."
Ones to Watch:
Parature and InQuira both fell off the leaderboard this year. Parature trailed behind this year's leaders by a mere 0.1. "Parature has matured its platform, adding additional sophistication to meet the needs of enterprise firms….They are showing up on more short lists and for larger firms than in the past," notes Ragsdale. InQuira took a large hit in company direction, falling from 4.0 to 2.9. "As with many Oracle acquisitions, it takes nine to fifteen months before it's clear what's happening with the acquired company," Kramer says. "So everything is still up in the air."