The 2013 Market Leaders
Speech Self-Service Suite
Spurred by growing pressure on companies to increase their use of self-service automation as a way to curtail contact center costs, investment in interactive voice response systems has remained strong, even during the worst of the recent recession. Now companies that were initially attracted to hosted and managed IVR solutions will continue to demand cloud-based solutions. "It is clear that companies that offer a hosting option, either exclusively or as a hybrid, are growing more rapidly than vendors that primarily sell on-premises IVR solutions," says Dick Bucci, president and principal analyst at Pelorus Associates.
Additionally, "the fastest-growing companies are broadening their market reach by using the cloud to move down market, by reducing initial costs and speeding implementation, and by developing function-specific modules that can be sold as turnkey installations," he mentions.
In general, Bucci expects IVR vendors to take great pains to broaden their market potential beyond just the larger contact centers. "Today there are less than 4,000 contact centers in the world with 1,000 or more agents, and all of them have some form of IVR installed," he says.
Contact Solutions, which won the category in 2009, reprises its role on the leaderboard this year after solid performances in depth of functionality (4.3), ability to customize (4.2), ability to integrate (4.0), and cost (3.9). Its risky guarantee of results is paying off for the company, which this year launched Adaptive Solutions, a patented behavior-based personalization tool. Bucci says this is a good example of the innovation that the company has shown.
Last year's category winner, Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, dropped down a notch, but still led the industry in the variety of delivery methods it offers (4.3) and in customer satisfaction (4.4), and garnered impressive scores in depth of functionality (4.1), ability to customize (4.3), and ability to integrate (4.0). Following its acquisitions this year of cloud-based contact center solutions providers Angel and SoundBite, Sheila McGee-Smith, president of McGee-Smith Analytics, says the firm now has "the broadest combination of premises and cloud-based offerings in the market." Bucci was also intrigued with how Genesys uses its Intelligent Customer Front Door to collect and interpret customer data, which then empowers personalization.
Voxeo, a market leader in 2012 after taking the top spot a year earlier, this year is back on top after pulling down an industry-leading score of 4.4 in depth of functionality and impressive scores of 4.1 in its ability to customize, ability to integrate, and customer satisfaction, and a score of 4.0 in the variety of its delivery methods. Bucci singled out the company, which at press time was in the process of being acquired by Aspect Software, as a leader in innovation, saying it was "among the first to provide personalization," but really broke the mold by incorporating location-based services into its platform, making it easier, safer, and more convenient than ever for mobile customers to access information and services. Also helping the company is a revamped CXP platform (formerly named VoiceObjects), with expanded multichannel and mobile capabilities.
Cisco Systems, which last year was a Vendor Contender as well, stays ahead of the curve on the strength of its customer satisfaction (4.2), depth of functionality (4.0), and variety of delivery methods (4.0). Paul Stockford, principal analyst at Saddletree Research, says Cisco "continues to demonstrate its commitment to the contact center market through the functionality of its solutions," and called its speech self-service "exceptionally accurate and user-friendly."
7 finished a fraction of a point behind the leaders. Its score of 4.3 for ability to customize was the highest among all vendors. The company also scored high in depth of functionality (4.0) and customer satisfaction (3.9). It launched a visual speech product that extends multimodal interactions to smartphones, and introduced an innovative outcome-based pricing policy.
While speech analytics was once considered a sleepy segment of the speech recognition market, more companies are realizing its benefits, and forecasts reflect its popularity. According to recent figures from DMG Consulting, the market is expected to grow by 20 percent in 2013 and 18 percent in 2014.
"Speech analytics is a very exciting application that has great potential for its users," says Donna Fluss, president at DMG. "These solutions are maturing rapidly and delivering a rapid payback to organizations that also invest in the best practices and resources required to realize the benefits. Companies are using speech analytics in many ways, including [to help] them comply with new regulations."
Toward that end, speech analytics has experienced growth in the financial and insurance markets, thanks to government oversights and compliance issues, says Dick Bucci, principal analyst at Pelorus. "There are a lot of very specific exposure requirements associated with compliance. As a result, we're seeing some substantial penalties assessed against credit card issuers, and that's enough to get people's attention. The industry is much more cognizant of the need to record calls and, more importantly...to analyze what was actually said."
Analysts praised Utopy for its solutions and appeared particularly impressed by its accuracy and depth of functionality. "Utopy provides a best-of-breed solution with the best analytics for voice and text that I've seen," one analyst says.
In early 2013, the company was scooped up by Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, which said the union now provides Genesys with a much-needed interaction analytics piece. In spite of this, one analyst questions whether Utopy's solutions will be optimized by the contact center solutions powerhouse. "As a standalone company, Utopy established itself as an industry innovator," the analyst says. "Now that Utopy is part of Genesys, I wonder whether that innovation will be nurtured or if Utopy will be neglected as Genesys pursues its contact center cloud objectives."
Nexidia and Verint are in a dead heat, with Nexidia ranking number one for the seventh year in a row, and Verint moving up from third place in 2012. Both companies rated highly for providing accuracy and depth of functionality.
"Nexidia continues to be the gold standard in the industry; it's highly functional and accurate," says an analyst. "Nexidia continues to be a pioneer in analytics applications in the contact center and elsewhere in the enterprise."
Paul Stockford, chief analyst at Saddletree Research, singled out Nexidia's solutions and the company's organization in general. "I...was impressed by the results obtained by using Nexidia's dictionary-independent solution," Stockford says. "According to customers, it is highly accurate, along with being fast and efficient. It has a high degree of scalability and is very cost-effective. On top of that, Nexidia...is a well-managed company, and they have a comprehensive understanding of the industry and what is needed for an effective speech analytics solution. Analytics is all they do. When the focus is that sharp, the outcome tends to be very positive."
"Verint is the dictionary-dependent counterpart to Nexidia's solution," Stockford says. "[Its] solution is highly accurate and...extremely easy to use and administer, and the ROI has been proven and well-documented over the past several years. I speak to many end users in my work, and Verint is highly regarded in the end-user community. [Its] reputation for customer satisfaction is exemplary."
Israel-based NICE Systems garnered high marks, especially for its depth of functionality and accuracy. NICE has expanded its offerings in the compliance arena with products such as its Proactive Compliance Suite for Consumer Protection, which integrates speech and desktop analytics to help financial institutions comply with regulations and the audit process.
Companies and Suppliers Mentioned