Convergys to Acquire Intervoice

Convergys, a provider of customer care and billing services, announced today that it will acquire  voice systems provider Intervoice for $335 million. The deal is targeted to officially close in August.

Mike Betzer, senior vice president of relationship technology management at Convergys, says the choice to buy Intervoice rather than to forge partnerships with it was all about long-term commitment and stability. "Customers want to be able to buy products from strategic partners and suppliers they can count on for years and years," he says. "Partnerships could get dicey. We believe there is a tremendous amount more synergy by owning the assets.

"By integrating Intervoice’s complementary speech automation, Web self-care, and mobile applications, Convergys will be able to offer a comprehensive array of automated and live agent services," he continues. "Intervoice’s products and services portfolio provides [Convergys] with an expanded offering, reduced time-to-market, and enhanced differentiation in the large and growing automated services [industry]."

Convergys also receives from Intervoice all 5,000 customers and approximately 700 employees. According to Betzer, there are no plans to reduce Intervoice’s current staff or current product portfolio, though an official road map is due to be released when the deal close,. "This acquisition is about growth, not about consolidation," he says.  

According to several industry analysts, the deal offers each vendor great potential to complement the other’s offerings. "The acquisition addresses some of the challenges we saw for Intervoice, predominantly around scalability," says Gartner Research Director Steve Cramoysan. "For Convergys, there are some key scales and capabilities which I think they will need going forward, and Intervoice brings some of those to them," he added, citing the area of voice self-service in particular.

The devil, however, is in the execution of the deal, Cramoysan says. That's a sentiment echoed by Daniel Hong, lead analyst of customer interaction technologies at Datamonitor. "It won’t be easy," Hong says. "Convergys says it's a solutions company, but it still has to overcome the mindset of being a services [vendor] acquiring a product company. It will have to keep an open mind when integrating Intervoice."

Betzer stresses that Convergys is taking great care to ensure that the integration process is as smooth as possible, explaining that there are teams from both companies specifically devoted to integration.

Matthew Goldman, a Gartner research vice president, says only time will tell if Betzer's hopes pan out. "If you look at Convergys’ history in their effort to grow and expand services, they have an understanding of how to align and manage people as part of their own service and part of the organization. How quickly [Convergys] addresses these challenges [in the next few quarters] will be quite telling."

Looking ahead, Betzer says Convergys is extremely focused on making sure that its integration with Intervoice is complete before considering any other moves. "The plan is to take a break on the acquisition front and make sure this one is done the way our customers want," he says.

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