• November 1, 2011
  • By Leonard Klie Editor, Speech Technology and CRM magazines
  • FYI

Alcatel-Lucent Unveils Mobile Capabilities for Genesys

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While Alcatel-Lucent was reportedly entertaining offers for its Enterprise Business Unit, one piece of that unit, Genesys Telecommunications Labs, received the equivalent of a corporate makeover that places it at the forefront of the mobile revolution.

Alcatel-Lucent in late August unveiled its strategy for Genesys, the one shining star in its poorly performing Enterprise Business Unit, which also offers technologies for unified communications, IP telephony, security, and networking.

Called Genesys Mobile Customer Engagement, the new strategy positions Genesys to help companies move from transactional applications to mobile conversations. It also seeks to bring conversations to mobile customer service applications by intelligently linking contact center agents and customer care resources from across the enterprise, including the back-office and branch locations.

The strategy will add capabilities to many Genesys applications, including its popular G8 suite, which brings together Conversation Manager, an app to bring agent conversations to iPhones; integrated mobile customer care apps; and UC Connect, linking mobile customers to back-office and mobile experts. The new capabilities will include the following:

  •  Contact Me, providing seamless and secure click-to-call capabilities with context from smartphone applications and immediate agent support or scheduled callbacks;
  • Connect Me, delivering mobile customers to the best resource, from the contact center to back-office departments and branch locations, across any voice, text, or chat channel; and
  • Know Me, providing personalized, mobile experience-based service tasks and proactive contact that could provide targeted offers and location-based services.

"Today's consumers rely on their smartphones and tablets to be their windows to the world. Businesses need to be creative in offering apps that integrate into all areas of the enterprise, from sales and marketing to customer care," said Tom Burns, president of Alcatel-Lucent's Enterprise Business Unit, in a statement.

"Our mobile solutions featured in the G8 suite are bringing our core cross-channel routing and application openness together with the power of our Genesys Conversation Manager to provide the context and presence information needed to deliver the next-generation mobile experience," Burns continued.

Alcatel-Lucent expects to incorporate these elements into many of the Genesys products, according to Mayur Anadkat, product marketing manager at Genesys. Those product additions could be available as early as this month.

Anadkat welcomes the new strategy, which he says takes advantage of the growing popularity of new, more powerful mobile devices.

Yet, despite the popularity of mobile devices—smartphones in particular—many applications for the mobile space today are strictly "transactional," offering users the same services they could do on a company's Web site, he adds.

The new apps "will evolve into something conversational. They will allow the back-and-forth that's missing today," Anadkat says.

They will also provide greater personalization, Anadkat adds.

Anadkat also sees possibilities to incorporate the strategy and corresponding capabilities to outbound applications. "There is a natural progression into push notifications," he says.

Is this strategy designed to restructure and grow Genesys and Alcatel-Lucent's Enterprise Business Unit or to make it look more attractive to potential buyers? According to a few published reports, at the same time that it was unveiling its latest Genesys strategy, Alcatel-Lucent was working on a deal to sell all or part of its Enterprise Business Unit to Permira Advisers, a London-based private equity firm.

At press time, Permira was close to a deal with Alcatel-Lucent to buy only the Genesys portion of the unit for $1.5 billion, according to an October 13 Financial Times of London article. The same article said that if the Genesys acquisition went through, Alcatel-Lucent would invest heavily in the rest of its enterprise phone business to make it more attractive to other suitors, which could include Siemens, Aspect Software, Huawei, Cisco Systems, HP, and Avaya, according to some sources familiar with the negotiations.

Talk of the sale heated up in mid-July when Alcatel-Lucent posted a statement on its Web site saying it was "exploring strategic options to enhance the future opportunities of the enterprise business. All options are being explored, including discussions with third parties."

Steve Hilton, principal analyst at Analysis Mason, says a sale of the whole business unit is likely soon. Alcatel-Lucent "should have sold the division two years ago, and I'm sure they would have sold it had the markets been stronger," he wrote in an email.

The Enterprise Business Unit reportedly accounts for less than 10 percent of Alcatel-Lucent's total revenue. Genesys, which Alcatel-Lucent acquired in 2000, is an established vendor in the contact center space and the only piece of the enterprise portfolio to consistently turn a profit. Genesys's contact center software business brings in roughly 75 percent of the unit's total revenue.

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