- Managers of customer service organizations are realizing that integrating discrete supporting applications with core contact center ACD functionality is a time consuming and often very expensive method of completing their solution suite.
- Contact center providers are reacting to the market change from “best-of-breed” solutions to “all-in-one”, pre-integrated suites by acquiring the assets of interactive voice response (IVR), speech analytics, customer survey, and data analytics best-of-breed providers or developing deep partnerships to complement their contact center suite offerings.
Less than a decade ago contact center executives were beating the bushes looking for best-of-breed solutions in the areas of workforce management, IVR, customer surveys, speech analytics, proactive outbound customer contact, and more to complete the functionality of their customer service suite and optimize their service offering. At the same time, there was a groundswell of start-ups focused on offering the best-of-breed solution in each of these areas to fill the product gaps of the major contact center vendors that had solid ACD offerings but lacked solutions focused on these high-growth peripheral areas of customer care and support. Enterprises were fixated on finding and buying the best of breed solution to meet their needs and give them a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Well, times have changed. It seems that the contact center vendors, as well as the providers of best-of-breed applications that support their contact center solutions have come to the reality that the marketplace is now seeking a single provider to interface with that can provide the totality of their needs without a great deal of time consuming and expensive integration work after the products are bought. As a matter of fact, there seems to be a consensus among purchasers that buying solutions that are “good enough” to get the job done from their contact center provider is superior to finding and integrating a best-of-breed solution from another provider that can be very expensive and require additional headcount and months of time to implement effectively. For these reasons the industry has been hit with a recent rash of acquisitions of smaller solution providers that can quickly supplement the suites of the major contact center providers such as Aspect Software, Interactive Intelligence, Genesys, NICE Systems and Verint among others.
Aspect acquired Voxeo (IVR/self-service), Interactive Intelligence, a longtime believer in internal development of its all-in-one contact center solution, acquired Bay Bridge Decisions (performance metrics and forecasting) and Latitude Software (Outbound/collections). NICE bought Causata (real-time analytics) and Fizzback (customer surveys) to add to its previously purchased Merced (performance measurement), while Verint acquired KANA (self-service/social media) and long-ago-purchased Witness Systems (Workforce management and recording) to supplement its capability set in the marketplace. Adding to the industry consolidation Genesys only just recently purchased Angel.com (cloud IVR), Utopy (speech analytics) and Soundbite (proactive multi-channel messaging and collections) to bolster its contact center portfolio.
There is no doubt that the customer care marketplace is consolidating and will continue to do so. The result will be a smaller set of major providers, each offering a full suite of contact center functionality that will offer tightly pre-integrated solutions to meet the demand of a marketplace that has grown disillusioned with the prospects of interfacing with a dozen or more suppliers to meet their needs, and long and expensive integration processes that require resources they no longer have. The bottom line is that contact center vendors not moving toward offering a complete solution, including enterprise-facing and customer-facing applications, should be embarking on plans to do so, and enterprises building customer care solutions should seek single source providers with broad capabilities that can more effectively meet their needs. Dealing with best-of-breed start-ups will soon be a disappearing practice.