Call centers: workforce management software to boom

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Datamonitor predicts that the market for call center workforce optimization solutions will be worth $1.5 billion by 2007.

More and more call center operators are using technology to improve staff performance and retention. Applications such as workforce management, quality monitoring and eLearning can improve customer service while also saving money. The best way for IT vendors to capitalize on this trend is to create integrated workforce optimization solutions; the market will be worth $1.5 billion by 2007.

According to Datamonitor's new report, "Workforce Optimization Technology Markets to 2007", the combined market for workforce management (WFM), quality monitoring (QM) and eLearning applications will grow to $1.5 billion by 2007 from $550 million in 2001 - an average annual growth rate of 18%.

These apps, known as workforce optimization applications, have evolved from standalone products to become part of an integrated contact center solution. Companies are adopting workforce optimization solutions to nurture and retain quality agents and, thereby, boost customer satisfaction levels. The solutions can also improve the bottom line because better agent efficiency and retention result, respectively, in reduced operational expenses and agent hiring/training costs.

To create and market integrated solutions, many vendors are partnering. For example, QM developers Witness, Envision and NICE (through a partnership with eLearning vendor, Knowlagent) now offer software that allow call center managers to identify and resolve problems through an integrated QM/eLearning solution. WFM vendors, such as Aspect and Blue Pumpkin, also partner with eLearning developers.

The nascent workforce optimization market is itself witnessing the rise of agent analytics software; Ireland's Performix is the highest-profile vendor. This software analyzes agent behavior, allowing call center managers to enhance agent performance by comparing actual agent activity to predefined business objectives.

The software integrates with data from both call center and non-call center sources, such as ACDs, CTI, WFM, QM and CRM software. Datamonitor estimates that in 2001, companies spent $14 million and $11 million on agent analytics solutions in North America and Western Europe, respectively; this figure is on the way up.

Workforce optimization solutions are most suited for those markets that have large agent pools and a high propensity for deploying contact center and CRM solutions such as financial services, telecommunications and outsourcing markets.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to learn more, you may be interested in Datamonitor's "Workforce Optimization Technology Markets to 2007" report.

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