CUSTOMER Announces Winners of the TMC Labs Innovation Awards


CUSTOMER Announces Winners of the TMC Labs Innovation Awards

By Tom Keating, Chief Technology Officer and Executive Editor  |  October 01, 2012

This article originally appeared in the Sept. issue of CUSTOMER magazine.

This year marks the 13th installment of the prestigious TMC Labs Innovation Awards, for which TMC Labs analyzes dozens of applicants to find the most innovative products.

Optimization of business processes and improving customer service are core goals of every business, but especially contact centers, which are constantly looking to increase agent productivity, reduce costs, and improve customer satisfaction. By utilizing innovative products within the CRM and contact center space, businesses can improve customer loyalty and improve agent morale.

Just like last year, we have quite a few hosted offerings, but this year we’ve seen a marked increase in social media integration offerings, which is in response to the need to track and gauge customers viewpoints of your business in the social media world, including Twitter, Facebook, and others. As a result we gave awards to a few text analytics products, which can even analyze customer sentiment, but we also recognized traditional CRM products like workforce management and CRM software solutions.

We are proud to bestow this award to 19 worthy products from 18 companies. OpenSpan (News - Alert) was granted two awards for two different products, which is a rare feat indeed.

The awards are broken into two parts to allow for our in-depth write-ups. The first part, in this issue, starts with ac2 Solutions and ends with NICE. The second half, which you’ll find in CUSTOMER’s October issue, will start with OAISYS and end with Virtual PBX.





ac2 Solutions Inc.

Advanced Workforce Optimization (AWO) Portal

Aegis Ltd.


Allegiance (News - Alert) Inc.

Allegiance SpotLight

Concentric Cloud Solutions

Concentric High Volume OutDial HVOD

Confirmit (News - Alert)

Confirmit Horizons

Coupa Software

Coupa Spend Optimization System

Drishti-Soft Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

Ameyo Communications Suite


KANA Software

KANA Social Listening & Engagement Solution


NICE Mobile Reach


OAISYS Talkument & Tracer Version 7.2

OpenSpan Inc.

OpenSpan Desktop Analytics

OpenSpan Inc.

OpenSpan Desktop Automation


Pega’s Unified Marketing solution

Presence Technology

Presence for Healthcare


ShoreTel 13

Siemens (News - Alert) Enterprise Communications

OpenScape Cloud Contact Center

Verint Systems Inc.

Impact 360 for Back-Office Operations

Virtual PBX

Virtual PBX Complete with VoIP Anywhere

ac2 Solutions Inc.
Advanced Workforce Optimization Portal Workforce Optimization Portal (AWO Portal) is a powerful workforce management solution with unique mathematical algorithms to provide more accurate scheduling than traditional Erlang C and other algorithms. Available via in-house licensed and hosted models, AWO Portal leverages a browser for its user interface. The AWO Portal optimizes schedules simultaneously to determine the work/off days, daily start and end times, daily coffee and lunch breaks for your agents together to meet your service level objectives and minimize costs. Concurrent schedule optimization achieves excellent efficiency levels and, according to ac2 Solutions, lowers total agent costs by 6 to 12 percent (i.e. fewer agent FTE) over other WFM systems.

The AWO Portal offers several technology innovations proven to improve WFM accuracy and efficiency in call centers. These innovations include advanced time series models for WFM forecasting, integer-linear-optimization for agent scheduling, staffing model analyzing customers’ abandonment behavior in determining required staffing levels, a call-by-call discrete event simulator for skills-based scheduling, an integrated strategic planning module for comprehensive planning, multi-criteria shift and vacation bidding, skills and routing manager, performance optimizer in addition to standard tools such as scorecards, dashboards, and agent workstation. 

ac2 Solutions told TMC Labs, “All WFM solutions use weighted moving average methods for forecasting. The original moving averages method was originally developed in the 19th century. While fairly simple to apply, these methods are outdated and have major flaws. Weighted moving average methods are known to have poor forecast accuracy due to their reliance on simple weights rather than rigorous statistical models that capture trends, day of week and week of year patterns, and correlation in the data accurately.”

The company then explained how the AWO product uses advanced time-series forecasting algorithms including Box-Jenkins ARIMA, one of the most powerful forecasting algorithms known today, Holt-Winters with additive/multiplicative seasonality and various trend models. It also has more advanced methods such as Transfer Function/Dynamic Regression that analyzes call drivers to provide future looking forecasts and superior accuracy. The AWO Portal combines them with an artificial intelligence-based expert system that automatically chooses for customers the forecasting method that optimally fits their particular environments.

Aegis Ltd.
Tracking and engaging in the social media chatter that discusses your business can open up opportunities pertaining to sales, service and reputation management. Businesses must engage with their consumers on social networks to gain insights into customer experiences, discover businesses weaknesses before customers defect to competitors, and improve their reputation with customers. AegisLISAn is a cloud-based social media engagement solution, providing the ability to listen, interact, socialize and align with the online community of a brand. Aegis Ltd. told TMC Labs, “Social media presents a distinct approach to tap into end user sentiments in real time, addressing and responding to service issues, sales opportunities and gathering market intelligence. The accuracy of speed with which brands responds to their end users is a key differentiator AegisLISAn brings to the table.”

The intelligence is generated by accessing and analyzing thousands of news, social networking, blogs, and other user-generated content sites of web 2.0 on a real-time basis. It further enables brands to manage interactions with social media users and generate intelligent reports through analytics. The proprietary Aegis software tracks and monitors conversation threads from a large number of streams across various channels such as Twitter, Facebook, discussion boards, YouTube (News - Alert), news forums, blogs, review sites, e-commerce sites, and other niche sites related to your business. After the conversation and information is processed, the system stores the complete intelligence in a custom made database structure.

Features include sentiment analysis, dashboard and business intelligence reporting, classifying and responding conversations, and volume trend analysis across social and consumer review websites. Responses on social media that leverage similar, canned response scripts can make customers feel like they are getting an automated cold shoulder. To address that potential problem, the platform has hundreds of response scripts/templates. Another challenge is identifying which responses on Facebook are important to reply to with a comment. The Aegis LISAn solution helps to overcome this challenge by intelligently allowing the user to make responses to each comment, easing monitoring, auditing, and reporting.

Allegiance Inc. 
As companies leverage CRM and ERP systems to capture more and more data, extracting valuable insights becomes increasingly more complex. Allegiance SpotLight enables clients to uncover high-value insights hidden in large datasets.

SpotLight uses proprietary, patent-pending data mining technology to exhaustively but efficiently analyze every possible pattern in a dataset. Then it automatically prioritizes and displays the patterns that represent real opportunities – areas where clients should focus to get maximum lifts in their key customer metrics. SpotLight mines billions of patterns and delivers prioritized results in a few seconds. According to Allegiance, a large B2B firm recently used the product to evaluate a dataset with 177.5 undecillion (1036) patterns, and it delivered results in four seconds.

SpotLight doesn’t just analyze survey data, it also analyzes pre-populated business data associated with customer records, so clients can discover patterns from a broad range of inputs. Allegiance explains, “SpotLight is built for business users, not statisticians. A simple configuration wizard helps each user select the data she wants to mine. She just needs to pick her dependent variable (the main outcome she wants to understand, such as customer loyalty or lifetime value). Then she picks the independent variables she wants to mine in relation to that dependent variable (the potential drivers of the outcome).”

SpotLight’s superb performance speed is made possible by a patent pending software process that intelligently pre-classifies raw data to make pattern discovery extremely efficient. In more technical terms, SpotLight distills data into binary classifications that are used to identify correlated patterns, which allows the system to compare two patterns in just one CPU clock cycle.

Concentric Cloud Solutions
HVOD, High Volume OutDial Volume OutDial (HVOD) is a web-services accessible platform that can initiate an amazing 38,000 simultaneous outbound dialing sessions, located in six different cities, connected to the largest carriers in the United States. HVOD offers a cloud-based services model for

outbound calling on a massive scale. Concentric has developed complex algorithms to optimize pacing and connection quality across its carrier partners.

Concentric told TMC Labs, “Our services enable anyone with web programming skills and a vision to drive a massive, carrier-grade infrastructure with critical, time-sensitive communications.” The company added, “HVOD offers unparalleled capacity and the highest connection rates. (Since we spread calls across a myriad of carriers, if there’s an open line, we’ll nab it.) The system enables organizations to communicate clearly and rapidly at a pace of 38,000 calls every minute (2.2 million calls per hour – 611 phone calls per second). Our system has been under the hood of several of the largest successful outbound emergency calling press releases of the past two years – including one day where we delivered in excess of 10 million calls.”

The platform is fully SIP based with high quality RTP using the G.711 codec – fully uncompressed voice. It leverages SOAP web services and to ensure high reliability is geographically redundantly (NEBS-compliant facilities are in Beaverton, Ore.; Dallas; Los Angeles; New York City; and Philadelphia).

Since HVOD is part of the Concentric integrated cloud solutions, customers can easily interoperate with contact center, ICR, hosted PBX, enterprise cloud and an extensive selection of cloud-based products.

Confirmit Horizons 
Confirmit Horizons Version 17 provides businesses with opportunities to engage customers, employees and research respondents in feedback/survey programs across multiple channels, particularly mobile. The platform that can be used as an on-premises or on-demand offering. Confirmit Horizons offers users enhanced collection and processing of unstructured data using a sophisticated text analytics suite. Many organizations often ignore text-based data sources such as e-mail, social media and verbatim survey responses because they involved an ineffective and laborious manual process to interpret results, but Confirmit’s sentiment and text analytics makes analysis much easier. It also offers the ability to view media captured on mobile devices, such as photos and video clips, from within Confirmit’s reporting suite.

In September 2011, Confirmit acquired Techneos, a technology company specializing in mobile feedback, survey and market research solutions. The acquisition helped bring to market a product with a broad range of data collection channels, giving customers rich features through its mobile offering. Confirmit explained, “For companies that want to gain a holistic view of their customers, mobile research offers very specific benefits that allow businesses to develop a two-way conversation with customers, creating a shift from monologue to dialogue. Customer opinions can be captured ‘in the moment’, closer to the point of purchase or experience with less bias, recall issues and influence from the brand.”

Just months after acquiring Techneos, Confirmit introduced updates to its mobile Survey On-Demand Application platform for creating, deploying and managing multi-lingual wireless and offline surveys on mobile devices. SODA delivers real-time results for companies to engage customers at the point of experience with SMS, mobile browser and app-based data collection and a robust reporting suite. Using mobile survey, feedback, panel, ethnography, face-to-face and digital diary solutions, Confirmit customers can gather data about peoples’ expectations, motivations and intentions on any mobile device.

In 2011, Confirmit recorded 100 percent platform uptime with over 500 million surveys completed over the past three years, and nearly 200 million surveys completed in 2011, a record high. Companies benefit from Conformit’s innovative technology that allows them to gain insight from a multi-channel platform that integrates data across all channels, eliminates data silos, and provides a single view of customer experience.

Coupa Software
Cloud Spend Optimization System
Coupa’s Cloud Spend Optimization Platform is a cloud-based procurement solution for managing all non-payroll expenditures in the cloud. The hosted locations consist of approximately 22 data centers strategically located throughout the U.S. to avoid blackouts. Coupa’s multi-tenant cloud architecture connects executive dashboards and alerts, e-procurement, expense management and real-time benchmarking into a single user interface. Coupa’s platform covers all the steps from procurement to invoicing including RFQs, contracts, requisitions and POs, budgets, invoicing and inventory management. Coupa Expense Management is used for expense reporting, budgets and auditing.

Importantly, all transactions have the options of multiple currencies and languages. The platform enables companies to promote a culture of responsible spending by all employees and gives employers full visibility into all the non-payroll spend transactions.

Coupa makes innovative use of the Amazon EC2 cloud and Ruby on Rails, which makes the application end-user configurable – an improvement over hosted and on-premises alternatives that are customizable only by IT developers. Coupa’s cloud-based application provides transparent pricing with a platform that leverages Amazon’s pay-for-what-you-use cloud, which thereby eliminates capital outlay as well as traditional professional service fees and IT maintenance costs. Ruby on Rails has allowed Coupa to build prototypes and iterations very quickly.

For example, within the last five years, Coupa has released more than 20 functionality updates to its system, while competitors may only release a single update per year. Lastly, Coupa has superb mobility features and offers accessibility on any mobile device. Decision makers can even verify budget availability on their mobile devices before approving a request, hence avoiding delays or bottlenecks.

Drishti-Soft Solutions Pvt. Ltd.
Ameyo Communications Suite
Ameyo is a SOA-based communications software that combines capabilities of predictive dialer, ACD, IVRs, voice logging, reporting, quality monitoring, CRM and CTI, campaign management and multimedia (e-mail, SMS, chat, fax, web) communications in a single platform. Ameyo brings together features of inbound, outbound as well as blended communication technology on a single reliable and scalable platform.

Part of the suite includes Ameyo Personal Agent Routing, a unique automation tool primarily for inbound processes. Ameyo Personal Agent Routing automatically matches the customers to the respective agents they’ve been dealing with in the past, allowing agents who are familiar with customers and their particular cases to build a rapport and resolve queries quickly, thereby reducing average handling time and increasing customer satisfaction.

For inbound campaigns, Ameyo provides businesses with Virtual Queue Pass and Agent Assisted IVR. VQ Pass enables customers to keep their place in a waiting queue as they disconnect the call and rejoin at a prescribed time; this eliminates calls lost on the IVR level. Agent Assisted IVR increases the efficiency and service quality of lower skilled agents. Enabling them to provide consistently high quality service through real-time playback of pre-recorded messages, this has the added benefit of minimizing agent fatigue through repeated customer interactions in a single day.

The platform also has intelligent outbound features to connect with customers. Ameyo ProActive Call Enhancer utilizes different strategies in various situations to reach customers in different categories based on their response patterns. Through pattern analysis, the intelligence determines the appropriate strategy to connect to a customer; this technology is ideal for outbound processes including collections. Additionally, Ameyo Parallel Predictive Dialer provides for real-time customer-agent connections based on specific calling lists and agent skills. Ameyo PPD optimizes multiple campaigns calling into a single campaign and is ideal for processes that require reaching out to different customers under distinct categories based on specific agent skills.

The product has implemented various API’s that enable a unified knowledge base and integration of various data across disparate applications onto a single screen, thus ensuring that customers have efficient customer service. Additionally, Ameyo Stats Wallboard and Supervisor GUI have been developed to address the need for viewing of process-specific performance in real time with the aid of graphs and charts for easy data interpretation.

KANA Software
KANA Social Listening & Engagement Solution
The KANA Social Listening and Engagement cloud-based solution combines the benefits of social media with customer service. Combining the advanced natural language processing and text analytics capabilities of KANA Experience Analytics with KANA’s adaptable service experience capabilities, the solution provides the ability to accurately listen to and identify important social conversations, derive meaningful insights, and enable agents to effectively engage customers with context-driven workflows and knowledge.

It features the ability to reliably identify important customer conversations in social media and customer communications in real time. It also has powerful text analytics algorithms to identify sentiment, topics, and issues in social and customer communications and automatically route to appropriate persons within the organization. It can also automatically create a case based upon social and customer feedback data sources. And it features contextual charting to display relevant topics, trends, and sentiment in the agent workflow. From an agent perspective knowledgebase articles are delivered to the agent based on sentiment and topic for faster case resolution. Also, links to contextual knowledge and relevant answers are sent to customers through their preferred interaction channel.

KANA told TMC Labs, “KANA integrates social CRM tools such as voice of the customer listening, conversation mining, and sentiment analysis with collaborative case management into the fabric of the customer service contact center environment. This enables organizations to grasp the power of social media channels to support the customer service experience within the constructs of these business demands.”

The solution features advanced analytics that support NLP-based analysis, whereas many competing solutions are only keyword based. Further, the KANA offering is multi-channel, analyzing social media, e-mail, SMS, and web feedback, as well as social media content. KANA integrates analytics, BPM and CRM, incorporating knowledge management, web self service, chat and co-browse and e-mail management for a comprehensive picture of the customer relationship.

NICE Mobile Reach
NICE Mobile Reach bridges enterprise self-service mobile offerings with assisted customer service over smartphones and tablets. NICE Mobile Reach includes the Mobile Reach Agent Desktop Client that resides on agent desktops in the contact center, the Mobile Reach mobile module that is integrated into the enterprise’s mobile iOS and Android apps, and the Mobile Reach Server that is available in both hosted and on-premises models. It is integrated with and complements existing service provider apps to seamlessly bridge between self-service mobile apps and live agents.

Importantly, it features analytical real-time analysis to understand the customer’s intent based not only on behavior in the app but also on additional customer information, such as the customer account, status, past interactions with the contact center, and customer activity in other channels. The solution understands customers' intents in real time and recommends to them which channel would be the most appropriate to address those needs. When needing agent assistance, the solution connects the customer to the right agent, bypassing the IVR, and transfers the customer intent and context collected on the mobile device directly to the agent’s desktop. As the agent and customer start to interact, the solution provides multimedia collaboration options, such as textual chat, image exchange and document sending, in parallel to the voice conversation.

Edited by Braden Becker
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