Talking UC with Aspect & ShoreTel


Talking UC with Aspect & ShoreTel

By Rich Tehrani, CEO, Group Editor-in-Chief, TMC  |  May 15, 2014

Aspect (News - Alert) has made a bunch of investments and acquisitions, and it now has an extremely comprehensive omnichannel contact center capability in the cloud and on-premises. The company has multichannel self-service, agent assist in the contact center, workforce management, backoffice optimization solutions, and more.

TMC (News - Alert) has been covering Aspect since the eighties, and it is pretty amazing how many companies it has purchased during that time. Aspect was actually a company that was acquired, and then changed its name from Concerto. Some of my favorite acquisitions made by the company were of PackNetX, who produced the first ACD on a CD, and Cell-IT, the first IP contact center solution provider.

Nowadays, the company is finding it increasingly important for customers to enable consumers to communicate with them in the channel of their choice, said Jim Freeze, CMO and senior vice president, who added that cloud is becoming an important deployment alternative for customers. The company has been able to expand its omnichannel capabilities in part due to its Voxeo acquisition. Omnichannel self-service and proactive outbound were becoming important to customers so Aspect acquired the leader in the space.

In addition to Jim, I had a chance to speak with Spence Mallder, senior vice president and general manager of workforce optimization, and Tim Dreyer (News - Alert), director of analyst relations.

They discussed the new Aspect Proactive Engagement Suite. Similar solutions can let customers know via SMS when something happens – like when power will be restored after an outage. Aspect's solution, however, can turn this notification into a dialogue. A customer could use it, for example, to reschedule a delivery. In other words, you get a notification that your dentist appointment is tomorrow at 2 p.m., and you can interact with the alert to change it to a later time.

Another recent announcement from Aspect was the release of its Workforce Optimization 8.0 Suite, which provides icons, widgets and customizable dashboards as part of a new more intuitive graphical user interface designed to improve agent engagement. It promises higher productivity because day-to-day administrative tasks take less time,

simplify tasks such as vacation requests, add WFO features, ease remote agent deployments, and more.

I also recently had a chance to meet with Mark Roberts, CMO of ShoreTel (News - Alert) to a get a handle on what the company has been up to lately. We started the conversation by discussing how companies with cloud communications solutions are valued far more highly than those with customer premises-only solutions. In fact, the more cloud, the higher the valuation.

ShoreTel has been ahead of this curve, purchasing M5, one of the leading cloud players in the space, almost two years ago. However, Roberts doesn’t see cloud being something all his customers implement immediately. He said: "We don't see it as a flash cut, people moving from the prem to the cloud. But we do see a huge growth opportunity for the cloud and are configuring ourselves to take advantage of that.”

To leverage the fact that the cloud is a cost-effective way to get a solution into the hands of the customer, but in recognition that companies aren't going to throw away their existing solutions, ShoreTel is developing more cloud-based solutions that work with its premises-based hardware. Think of this as new apps and features/functions.

From there he discussed the company’s new 400 series phones, which allow customers to have the same phone features and functions regardless of whether they use a cloud- or premises-based communications solution. Roberts said the channel is especially happy about not only the phone but the story that one company can help them solve their communications needs from the prem to cloud.

We also discussed how the communications platform has a new role to play – it will enable you to get higher value from the myriad apps your corporation relies on. And as this happens, we can only expect the value of your communications solutions to increase. In fact, ShoreTel is hoping this ecosystem of communications systems and apps makes its solutions that much stickier.

Edited by Alisen Downey
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