Customer service used to be relatively simple – when customers had a question or problem, they called a call center. But technology has evolved, so have the customers, quickly taking hold of mobile, social, and multichannel communications capabilities in their daily lives, extending those expectations to their customer service demands. No longer is a simple call center enough to deliver a valuable customer experience. The game has changed, and the ability to integrate mobility, multichannel capabilities, and self-service into the customer service environment has become an imperative.
“It’s the sweet spot of the innovation that’s occurring in the transformation of the customer experience,” says Chris Koziol, president and general manager of the Interaction Management division at Aspect. “Customers want to be able to interact with their brands wherever, whenever, and however they choose, and companies that restrict that ability or can’t accommodate that request are really going to be left by the wayside.”
That understanding is a key reason why Aspect is spending $150 million to acquire hosted/cloud and on-premises IVR and multichannel platform provider Voxeo (News - Alert). The two already have many common deployments among the 2,000 Aspect and 700 Voxeo customers but, more importantly, the opportunity is an opportunity to heighten Aspect’s position in what has been a transformational customer experience market, by combining the two businesses’ offerings to create an integrated product offering addressing the holistic needs of any business.
Aspect has long understood the importance of a unified communications strategy in the contact center, but the mobility, IVR and self-service capabilities on which Voxeo has built its business fill some holes in the Aspect portfolio, now enabling it to expand its addressable market with a combination of on-premises, hybrid, and cloud offerings that will meet the needs of Fortune 100 enterprises all the way down to the lower end of the SMB market. Likewise, Aspect’s contact center capabilities are highly complementary to Voxeo’s business, which, somewhat ironically, has struggled to make major inroads in the contact center space.
Perhaps the greatest value, as cloud computing continues to grow and as many contact centers look to the cloud as an alternative, comes in Voxeo’s six global data centers and two NOCs, allowing Aspect to extend its cloud and managed services offerings. Koziol and Voxeo CEO Bob Ingalls agree that cloud is here to stay, making the ability to support customers looking to migrate partially or fully into a cloud or managed services environment critical to continued growth.
“Cloud has allowed us to grow some small customers into big customers,” notes Ingalls. “The nature of the business world, with things moving as quickly as they are, makes it impossible to pick who the winners will be, so you have to be able to allow smaller customers to try out [the software in cloud model], with the ability to eventually roll that software onto an on-premises solution, or a hybrid environment, or a bigger cloud.”
Certainly, Aspect could have built its own IVR and multichannel solutions, but the pace of change in the market demands the vendors be able to act swiftly. This deal allows Aspect to accelerate its growth in the integrated contact center market while increasing flexibility with multiple deployment and payment models.
“We have seen considerable evidence that the market sees a significant value proposition in the combination of Voxeo and Aspect solutions,” notes Koziol. “We see it as a way to accelerate our overall offering and build positive momentum to drive organizational top- and bottom-line performance.”
While there will be tight integration between the two solution sets beyond the APIs Voxeo has developed, the acquisition furthers Aspect’s strategic position that success requires an ability to thrive in a multivendor environment. While full integration will increase the value of the combined solution for many customers, the ability to coexist in competitive environments with the likes of Cisco, Avaya, Genesys (News - Alert), and others will help Aspect accelerate the deployment of many capabilities its customers require, whether that includes IVR, outbound dialing, mobility, WFM, integration with Microsoft (News - Alert) enterprise solutions, or any of the other capabilities from either solution. The flexibility of being able to integrate with competitive vendors only increases Aspect’s value proposition, allowing customers to leverage their existing communications investments while building out their customer service capabilities.
Despite its commitment to a multivendor market, the acquisition positions Aspect well in the competitive landscape as a full replacement to existing implementations. With the combined portfolio, it is able to match its offerings squarely against any vendor in the market, including the self-service and mobile offers from Avaya (News - Alert) and Genesys, the call distribution capabilities of Cisco ICM, the cloud capabilities of Interactive Intelligence, as well as the offerings from pure-cloud players like Five9 (News - Alert) and InContact.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi