by Lisa Guerriero
Enterprises obtain workforce software to organize employees, improve customer experience, and more effectively allocate resources.
Workforce optimization (WFO) software focuses on ensuring quality, managing performances, and deriving actionable data insights. Often, it incorporates components of workforce management (WFM), such as call recording and schedule coordination. However, WFO takes these automated processes and taps into the information generated.
Software Magazine examines developments driving the WFO market, offerings from selected WFO providers, and trends shaping the industry.
A Growing Market
The WFO market is growing. Brian Spraetz, solutions marketing manager, WFO, Interactive Intelligence, points to a 5.7 percent growth rate predicted in 2013 in a five-year report by Ovum, a telecommunications and IT analysis firm. “According to the report, WFO technology is mature in North America and Western Europe, but the market is still growing overall with an emphasis on analytics, performance management, upgrades to Internet protocol recording solutions, and integrated quality monitoring and analytics solutions to address compliance requirements,” he observes.
Two industry leaders—Verint and NICE—continue to dominate, representing more than half of the market’s revenue. However, industry analysts, such as Gartner and DMG Consulting, observe an increased number of software providers in this space and as such, a more competitive landscape.
DMG Consulting released a report in Fall 2014, based on 45 WFO competitors, and found their total company GAAP revenue increased from $1.5 billion in the first half of 2013 to $1.7 billion in the first half of 2014.
Optimization software is popular in numerous industries, including government entities and vertical markets such as healthcare, transportation, and financial services.
For years, large corporations have used software to automate processes and monitor quality within contact centers. These businesses often rely on legacy systems in need of updates. “Many contact centers have older WFM, quality monitoring, and recording systems in place, so we will likely see significant spend as those customers go through a replacement cycle,” predicts Mike Bourke, SVP/GM, workforce optimization, Aspect Software.
Large corporations often need these upgrades to attain full WFO functionality. For example, automated call distribution and scheduling are still important, but companies need to take the next step. Software must execute these functions for multiple locations, languages, time zones, and laws—especially with a growing work-at-home contingent. Managers expect solutions to know an agent’s skills and match them to the customer’s needs.
Smaller companies also embrace WFO solutions, including those contact centers with as little as 50 agents. Just like large corporations, many small- and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) expect WFO software to deliver tools for analytics, quality and performance management, as well as components such as recording and scheduling.
Software providers say SMBs are a growing part of the market. Previously under served, SMBs now benefit from targeted and scalable solutions that increasingly tailor to their needs. “We see that many WFO solutions are specifically targeted and enhanced for enterprise-level users due to the misconception that SMB contact centers will not yield a return on investment (ROI). While it may take a little longer, SMBs will yield ROI from WFO processes and tools if properly implemented and managed,” observes Mariann McDonagh, CMO, inContact.
The WFO market has much to offer, with software providers designing solutions for different business settings and needs.
Appian provides an application development platform that allows businesses to manage data and optimize internal processes using a single interface. Appian focuses on enterprise-wide implementations at global companies in a variety of industries, including financial services, pharmaceuticals, retail, and government.
Samir Gulati, VP, marketing, Appian, says agility is the company’s hallmark. “With Appian, there are no pre-packaged solutions or versions that force a business to upgrade regularly or be confined to one operating system or device. Whether the system is on premises or cloud-based, our model approach allows for real-time updates that publish across all devices and platforms.”
Aspect Software offers products and services for contact centers as well as back-office departments. These include performance and quality management, call and screen recording, eLearning and coaching, and speech and desktop analytics. “Enterprises are just now coming to realize that many of the tools used in the front office can also be used in the back office—with a few changes—for significant labor savings and quality improvements,” notes Bourke.
The company targets contact centers with more than 75 agents, or back-office operations with more than 50 agents, in various industries. It also works with larger entities. In fact, according to the company, one of its clients operates a contact center with over 40,000 agents.
Aspect Software’s WFO solutions are deliverable on premises or in the cloud.
Calabrio’s suite includes cloud and on-premises options that fall into one of three categories—WFM tools, analytics, and quality management. Most clients select a solution for quality management and analytics, notes Tom Goodmanson, CEO, Calabrio, while 30 to 40 percent acquire the entire suite.
Calabrio takes a multi-tenant approach and built gamification into its platform to incentivize employees and provide access and oversight to senior executives. The company created an easy to learn and use widget-based dashboard. “Everything needs to be three clicks away,” suggests Goodmanson.
The company started with smaller contact centers and now works with larger clients, including internationally. Calabrio tailors solutions for clients and accounts with regards to cultural differences when setting up systems outside of the U.S.
inContact has two solutions for optimization. inContact WFO targets contact centers with more than 150 agents. From interactions to staffing to customer insights, McDonagh says inContact WFO also provides visibility into performance, operations, and customer intelligence across an organization.
Discover WFO targets SMBs with contact centers of 150 agents or fewer, and focuses on functions such as call recording, quality management, performance management, and speech analytics. Both are available as on-premises or cloud-based products and integrate into inContact’s automatic call distributor system. The inContact platform offers a carrier-grade network, and its interfaces are user friendly and adjustable as a contact center changes.
The Interactive Intelligence WFO suite is available on-premises or as a cloud service. Spraetz says its products are integral to the overall Interactive Intelligence communications platform. “This provides several key benefits—faster and less complex deployments, no additional hardware requirements, a single point of administration, and no reliance on external data feeds. This all results in a more reliable, maintainable, and cost-effective WFO solution,” he explains.
The all-in-one solution scales from 25 to thousands of employees. Spraetz says it’s suited to a variety of industries. Its WFO suite includes products for multi-channel recording, speech analytics, customer feedback, quality management, and performance monitoring.
KnoahSoft’s WFO solutions “give contact centers enterprise-level interaction recording; quality, performance, and WFM; and analytics functionality,” says Mike Butts, director of product marketing, KnoahSoft.
Capabilities include call recording, coaching and eLearning, and dashboards and scorecards for reporting. KnoahSoft Harmony is Web-based, mobile-enabled, and available in several versions for different sized businesses. It can be deployed on-premises or delivered as a Software as a Service (SaaS)-based subscription service. KnoahSoft serves contact centers in a variety of industries, with anywhere from 50 to thousands of agents.
NICE WFO is a suite of integrated solutions enabling individuals within an organization to understand their impact on customers, own their schedule, and use best practices and coaching to increase effectiveness. Every component in the suite and individual solutions are available on premises or via SaaS.
TelStrat International’s Engage WFO solution offers call recording, live monitoring, desktop and speech analytics, quality management, and WFM with coaching and eLearning. It is available for on-premises and cloud deployments by perpetual license or annual subscription.
Engage WFO’s users range from small businesses to global enterprises, and work in a variety of industries. TelStrat coordinates both single and multi-center deployments. Dave Ditmars, director, market intelligence and business development, TelStrat, says Engage WFO delivers an intuitive contact center optimization system that simplifies the handling customer interactions efficiently and effectively, mining interactions for business insights, maximizing agent performance, and streamlining WFM.
Verint offers a WFO solution comprising quality monitoring/recording, performance management, eLearning and coaching, desktop and process analytics, and voice of the customer analytics such as data from speech, text, and enterprise feedback management. “Verint’s solution goes beyond data integration. It is truly unified with unique business process workflows that deliver actionable intelligence,” explains Rajeev Venkat, senior director, solutions marketing, Verint. It also provides features to help clients manage employees and processes across contact centers, back offices, and branch operations.
Solutions are available on-premises or through a global network of partners that offer cloud-based subscription services. The company’s typical client has between 200 and 2,000 agents, though they can scale solutions for contact centers up to 40,000.
VPI offers WFO applications under its VPI Empower suite, a flexible solution that includes performance management, quality assurance, multi-channel call and screen recording, speech analytics, and eLearning and eCoaching. The suite unifies large amounts of data and metrics, while informing managers via reports, dashboards, and mobile alerts. Empower is available as an on-premises solution or cloud-hosted through a third-party VPI partner.
“Organizations may mix and match any number of integrated software modules in this suite—with any existing technology they may have,” says Patrick Botz, VP, WFO, VPI.
The company works with a variety of sectors, with contact centers ranging between 50 and thousands of agents, including single and multi-site environments. WorkForce Software focuses on WFM with EmpCenter, a cloud-based suite. It works with companies managing 1,000 or more staff members. However, over the past two years, its clients’ average employee size was more than 10,000. Client priorities usually fall into two categories. The first is automating and optimizing transactional data—ensuring pay processes, preventing non-compliance with human resource policies, or automating scheduling. The second is enhancing daily operations—delivering labor data to applications like business intelligence, sharing time-off insights with employees, and automatically applying situational pay conditions.
Marc A. Moschetto, VP global marketing, WorkForce Software, says EmpCenter is a single platform that enterprises can deploy globally, yet still make configuration changes at each individual location. “The result is a custom fit without custom code, expensive consulting, or a rip-and-replace attitude,” he says.
The call center is now a contact center. Customers communicate by phone, email, online chat, social media, and text message. This requires a system to organize the data and make it available regardless of the channel. “Omni-channel is a servicing strategy that seeks to deliver a consistent, seamless customer experience across all customer interaction channels. Businesses are looking to WFO vendors to provide comprehensive, multi-channel performance optimization solutions that help them better manage the customer experience across all contact channels,” notes Spraetz.
Data drives the WFO market. In a WorkForce Software survey, 43 percent of respondents named labor analytics as the primary component that would lead them to select a new system, says Moschetto. For many companies, it is not enough to evaluate the workforce and the volume and type of contacts they handle. The content of the contact must also be processed, which makes desktop and speech analytics increasingly popular. Goodmanson considers each call, email, or text message a unit of data that it must render dynamic for the client. “It’s analytics at its heart,” he says.
Analytics affects how providers design WFO software, as well as how the contact center functions. “Agents are informed via personalized information feeds, and motivated with creative rewards systems, including performance-based scheduling or a game-based approach to team competition. Managers are empowered via personalized, interactive, actionable reports, Web dashboards, as well as mobile alerts and insights,” explains Botz.
Enterprises increasingly want mobile delivery of information. “Having 24/7 access to monitor contact center operations using a smartphone or tablet is essential, especially when they participate in offsite meetings, training, business travel, are at home, or even on vacation. With the right mobile access, contact center leaders can see how many agents are busy, talking on the phone, or ready to take a call,” observes Butts.
Managers want to monitor calls in progress, record calls on demand, and flag calls for quality assurance. They also want actionable intelligence on the go, such as alerts to identify service trouble spots before they become a problem. “Anywhere, anytime contact center activity management and customer contact handling promises to improve first call resolution and customer satisfaction,” notes Ditmars.
Some software providers introduced WFO systems for back offices. Verint cites a 2014 survey completed by Saddletree Research and the National Association of Call Centers that says “66 percent of U.S. organizations now have the contact center and back-office reporting up to the same internal department.”
Bourke predicts back-office optimization will be one of the fastest growing segments over the next few years. “We have spent decades optimizing the front-office operations of many organizations, but the back office has been severely under attended. Enterprises are just now coming to realize that many of the tools being used in the front office can also be used in the back office—with a few changes—for significant labor savings and quality improvements,” he says.
It is also no surprise that cloud-based services are pervasive among workforce solutions. “Business units like cloud services because they are easy and fast to roll out. IT teams increasingly look at cloud platforms for the applications that they must develop in house. The primary value is the same for both camps—accelerated time to market,” states Gulati.
WFO software also presents an opportunity for agent satisfaction. “For many organizations, the key to keeping agents happy means meeting scheduling requests. In fact, staffing can account for up to 70 percent of contact center and back-office operating costs,” points out Venkat.
Agent satisfaction is now a priority for many contact centers. Components for eLearning and coaching are increasingly common, as well as built-in incentive programs to motivate employees.
Enterprises expect sophisticated optimization tools that organize information as well as put it to use. Software providers strive to deliver more functions and features to businesses of all sizes. As a result, the workforce software market is growing. SW