New cloud contact center capabilities strengthen Aspect’s market position

Aphrodite Brinsmead, Senior Analyst, Customer Engagement

At its industry analyst conference in Phoenix, Arizona in January 2014, Aspect proudly discussed its newly refocused business. Two years ago the vendor was working closely with Microsoft and struggling to gain new business in a saturated contact center infrastructure market. However, Aspect begins 2014 with new products, strong financials for 2013, and a positive growth forecast.

The strategic acquisitions it made in 2013 have helped Aspect get back on track. Most significantly, the decision to acquire Voxeo in July 2013 and take on some of its business practices means that the company is now better poised to respond to enterprises’ demands for multichannel capabilities, analytics, and flexibility in deployment options.

The Voxeo acquisition changes everything

The Voxeo acquisition appears to have been the turning point in securing Aspect’s future success. Aspect gained a robust IVR solution, cloud expertize, and new data centers, as well as inspiration for internal cultural changes. One of the key discussions at the event was around how Aspect plans to continue shifting its corporate ethos, using Voxeo as a prop.

It intends to adopt the cloud-vendor mentality by becoming more responsive to enterprises’ needs. Aspect will need to change and train its sales teams and spend more time talking to existing customers, but it is headed in the right direction. It has highlighted the importance of a more streamlined professional services strategy and a reevaluation of its own employee-engagement techniques.

Aspect also gained Qivox and Voxeo CXP from the acquisition. Qivox offers a multichannel outbound communication and fraud protection platform, and Voxeo CXP is the former VoiceObjects self-service application design and management tool. Aspect will now be able to differentiate through its ability to provide both inbound and outbound multichannel cloud services. It should emphasize its mobile self-service application design capabilities within CXP as enterprises seek to focus their smartphone application design more on customer care and improving self-service functionality.

Aspect is betting big on cloud

Following the Voxeo acquisition, Aspect has made its position clear: cloud is not just an alternative for existing customers but a core part of its new strategy. In addition to offering its Unified IP contact center platform with cloud or hybrid deployment options, the vendor has also announced a new SME contact center product, Zipwire, which will available from January 20, 2014.

The new solution is targeted at contact centers with up to 250 agent seats, and, taking inspiration from Voxeo, Zipwire customers will have the opportunity to trial the product for free for 30 days before subscribing on a monthly or annual basis. This move suggests that Aspect is serious about competing in the cloud contact center market, and Voxeo’s knowledge will again come into play in helping it to its expand range of channel partners in order to reach smaller contact center customers.

Aspect has gained an advantage over its traditional contact center infrastructure competitors by acquiring Voxeo’s six global data centers and scalable cloud capabilities. However, it still needs to prove itself against “pure play” cloud vendors such as Five9, LiveOps, and inContact that have already made significant headway in the space.

It is likely to take a number of years before Aspect can replace its large product and maintenance revenues with corresponding monthly subscriptions from cloud customers. Although many of its large, established customers are interested in cloud, they are likely to remain premise customers for at least another couple of years, and Aspect must not neglect their needs.

There are still some gaps for Aspect to close

Aspect has additional plans for social customer service, realtime analytics, and CRM integrations through partnerships with Nexidia, Moxie, Salesforce, and Lithium. It has a good grounding in workforce optimization, with well-established workforce management and performance management tools, but is yet to tap into the market for packaged, suite workforce optimization tools. It is behind its competitors in offering analytics capabilities, and pricing, integration, and packaging will be vital in ensuring it catches up.

Despite these gaps and the need for a focused new sales strategy, Aspect is in a positive position. It seems set for a year of growth and leadership in the contact center space.

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