A few months ago, I evaluated Zeacom CommunicationsCenter (ZCC), which provides a multichannel contact center that is integrated closely with business process automation. This allows organizations to build a contact center tied to their interaction-handling processes and deliver any form of interaction to the person most qualified to handle it. At the time of my review, the product ran alongside products from the likes of Avaya, Cisco and NEC, and was resold and supported by the partner networks of these suppliers. There was also a beta test under way that supported integration with Microsoft Lync, which provides an alternative to using PBX products from these vendors.
Microsoft is not especially well-known in the contact center market, except perhaps with its CRM product,MicrosoftDynamics. Microsoft Lync is what most people term a unified communications platform. It provides integration of voice, instant messaging, audio and Web conferencing capabilities, all accessible through a single user interface. It also includes “presence,” which allows users to see who is available on the network so that they can collaborate on the resolution of interactions, and provides tight integration with Outlook so users can share email and calendars. This integration is key for organizations that choose to run ZCC for Lync, because its user interface resembles Office’s, and Office users therefore have a familiar experience.
Organizations that use ZCC for Lync can choose between two implementation modes: They can run in a hybrid environment alongside their existing PBX, or, because Lync effectively replace the PBX, they can run it stand-alone. The latter lets organizations obsolete existing equipment that has reached the end of its useful life or build a new center entirely based on software. This can be attractive to organizations with no more than 400 seats, but as with any new software, prospective purchasers should make sure that the system can deliver against their SLA requirements.
Recently Zeacom announced that the beta trial completed successfully, so the Lync product is generally available. Zeacom sells through indirect channels such as the Avaya, Cisco and NEC partners. The same is true for the Lync option; Zeacom is one of six partners that Microsoft works with in this space. As adoption of Lync grows, this partnership is likely to prove beneficial to Zeacom and give it more market presence.
As I said in my previous blogentry on ZCC, building a contact center used to be a complex task involving the integration of proprietary pieces of technology, followed by configuration to support specific interaction-handling processes. Products such as ZCC make this task a lot easier. ZCC should be one of the options organizations consider as they begin to build a new center or upgrade their existing ones.
Have you upgraded your center to support multiple channels of communications? If so, tell us how it went, and collaborate with me on this topic.
Richard Snow – VP & Research Director