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Contact centre technology evolves and threatens telephony champions

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10th Dec 2008
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The evolution of the call centre into new tech-savvy contact centres is changing the sector, according to new Gartner research. And this could have big implications for telephony companies.

By Stuart Lauchlan, news and analysis editor

Telephony companies which have dominated the global contact centre market face new competitive challenges as the sector's requirements evolve, according to research firm Gartner Group.

In its recent Magic Quadrant for Contact Centre Infrastructure report, Gartner notes: "The contact centre market has traditionally been dominated by enterprise telephony vendors, which sell contact centre infrastructure as an extension of their telephony architecture. However, as telephony and contact centre functionality becomes more software-based, it becomes less tied to telephony infrastructure.

"Contact centre infrastructure decision-makers are finding that alternative providers can offer cost, capability and architectural strengths that their incumbents cannot match."

Gartner

"As the telephony-centric 'call centre' continues to evolve into a multimedia and process-centric 'contact centre', the contact centre infrastructure market is becoming increasingly open to new entrants – some focusing on technology and cost differences, and others offering contact centre infrastructure as extensions of ancillary products and services such as enterprise software applications and business process outsourcing (BPO)."

Gartner sees the enterprise communications infrastructure market, including contact centres, evolving over time from stand-alone systems ('point products') toward "tightly integrated functionality with interfaces embedded within other enterprise applications". It adds that this evolution will present many challenges to traditional telephony vendors.

"In many environments, contact centre infrastructure decision-makers are finding that alternative providers can offer cost, capability and architectural strengths that their incumbents cannot match," says the report. "Also, in some cases, these decision-makers are specifically looking to de-couple their contact centre infrastructure technology from their enterprise telephony technology, especially where the telephony decision is likely to be made separately from the contact centre infrastructure decision."

Tackling the infrastructure

Gartner's research defines contact centre infrastructure as "the products (equipment, software and services) needed to operate call and contact centres." According to the firm, this type of infrastructure is used by customer and employee service and support centres, inbound and outbound telemarketing services, help-desk services, government-operated support centres, and other types of structured communications operations.

"Companies fitting the 'early adopter' technology adoption profile are examining innovations in the areas of session initiation protocol, service-oriented architecture, mobility, rich presence and collaboration technologies."

Gartner

Organisations look to different types of technologies for their infrastructure depending on how sophisticated their contact centre strategy currently is. "Companies fitting the 'early adopter' technology adoption profile are examining innovations in the areas of session initiation protocol (SIP), service-oriented architecture (SOA), mobility, rich presence and collaboration technologies," said Gartner. "The benefits of these approaches include the extension of contact centre functionality into CRM applications; incorporation of CRM data and real-time queue status information to dynamically adjust contact routing and call treatment; and extension of the reach of contact centre functionality to non-traditional agents such as second- and third-level support staff.

However, it also says SIP-based solutions have yet to fulfil their promise of allowing organisations to use low-cost contact centre solutions from one vendor within another vendor’s SIP-based telephony infrastructure. "Companies fitting the 'mainstream' and 'late adopter' technology adoption profiles are increasingly considering virtual (distributed) contact centres, centralised infrastructure models (supporting both company-wide initiatives and operationally independent, multi-tenant deployments using shared infrastructure resources), web and speech-integrated voice portals, and hosted and managed deployment models in order to balance cost-reduction and improved-service initiatives," Gartner continues.

According to Paul Segre, president and CEO of Genesys Telecommunications Labs, named as one of the market leaders by Gartner, the report echoes findings that telephony and contact centre functionality is becoming more software-based. "It corresponds with what we're seeing in the market: a growing role for applications software and its strategic value for both enterprises and carriers," he says.

The leaders quadrant

Gartner identifies those companies which it says are leaders as high-viability vendors with broadportfolios, significant market share, broad geographic coverage, a clearvision for how contact centre needs will evolve and a proven track record for delivering contact centre products. They are also well-positioned with their current product portfolio and are likely to continue to deliver leading products. "Leaders do not necessarily offer the best-of-breed solution for every customer requirement. However, overall, their products are strong and often include some exceptional capabilities. Additionally,they provide solutions that offer relatively low risk," it says.

"There are opportunities to maximise agent and information worker productivity, improve customer-company interactions and fine-tune business processes to be more efficient than ever before, which is important in our volatile economy."

Gartner

Among the other technology leaders identified in this report is Avaya. "We believe our position in Gartner's leaders quadrant reinforces Avaya's strategy of producing contact centre products and solutions that help organisations deliver the highest levels of customer service, while maintaining an efficient cost-structure," says Bob Lyons, vice president and general manager of Avaya Contact Centre Solutions. "High-quality customer service is more important than ever for businesses in these challenging times, and it is an area we intend to continue innovating and leading in as we head into 2009."

Also cited is Aspect. "We believe being placed in the leaders quadrant by Gartner helps underscore that the industry views Aspect as a trusted partner with a solid vision for the future and as a proven products and services portfolio to help organisations achieve their strategic objectives," says Jim Foy, Aspect's chief executive officer. "With an evolving focus on bringing unified communications to the enterprise and the contact centre, Aspect sees a lot of opportunities for organisations to maximise agent and information worker productivity, improve customer-company interactions, and fine-tune their business processes to be more efficient than ever before, which is so important, especially in our volatile economy."

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By AlishaSharma
05th Aug 2015 07:22

I don't think technology is the problem, it's that organizations need to be flexible enough with budgets to implement quickly based on the ever changing needs of the customer / economy. Introduction of technology at all levels is improving supporting business growth, e.g. - universal queuing, call blending with the development of technology solutions to support multiple channel voice, non-voice on a single platform - voice recognition etc.

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