Most people involved with contact centers know of NICE Systems and its SmartCenter suite of workforce optimization products that support key contact center management capabilities such as call recording, quality monitoring, workforce management, customer feedback management and a variety of performance management and analytics tools. NICE recently received the top ranked Hot Vendor rating in the Ventana Research 2010 Value Index for Agent Performance Management.
All the buzz in the contact center market these days is about the “contact center in the cloud.” I have written on the subject, in particular “Is a Contact Center in the Cloud a Reality?” and “Will Cloud Computing Finally Bring Innovation to the Contact Center?”. In considering this issue my thinking focuses on what goes into a contact center and then what vendors offer these systems in the cloud. At the risk of oversimplifying things, I believe a contact center has two core components – communications management and agent and process management.
I have written a couple of pieces this year about the exciting news that a few vendors are now able to provide companies with a call center they can access in the Internet cloud – Will Cloud Computing Finally Bring Innovation to the Contact Center? and Is a “Contact Center in the Cloud” a Reality? There is currently a lot of hype around any kind of cloud-based computing, and the same is true of the contact center. From my perspective, people should be clear about what this phrase really means. Anyone that has been involved in building an on-premises contact center knows it typically involves integrating complex call-management systems (such as PBX, ACD and IVR) and several computer systems including call routing, call recording, workforce management, CRM, agent quality monitoring and performance management, reporting and analytics. The idea is that calls or other types of interactions are delivered to the company’s call center location and then the combination of these technologies determines the best agent to handle the interaction and delivers it to that person. The contact center in the cloud shifts some or all of these systems to a third party, and the company accesses them over the Internet. The difference is that instead of going to the company’s location, an interaction is directly delivered to the best person to handle it, regardless of whether that person is in another location, in a contact center, in another line of business, working at home or even out of the office using a mobile phone. In addition, users are in control in the sense that rather than depending on in-house IT, they can access the service from anywhere with an Internet connection and get new features and functions without waiting for IT to upgrade.
Among the important findings of our latest benchmark research on contact center analytics were these two: 88 percent of companies said they can use analytics to improve the performance of the contact center (41% said they could make significant improvement), and the main issue holding them back from doing that is an excessive reliance on spreadsheets (90% indicated they use spreadsheets on a regular or universal basis).
Aurix is not a widely recognized vendor in the speech analytics market even though its technology powers products provided by companies such as CallCopy, KnoahSoft, NewVoiceMedia and OnviSource. In fact its strategy is to provide the engine that these and other partners use in market-facing speech analytics solutions. Its main product, Aurix speech search SDK, is a search engine that searches through call recordings to find specified words, terms and phrases. It uses advanced phonetic search technology rather than the more common technique of large-vocabulary continuous speech recognition (LVCSR) and thus allows users to avoid setting up a library of the words they want to search for. This approach makes it easier to work with different languages and to pick out slang, jargon, product and place names, and other words not normally found in a dictionary.