Call Centers

Microsoft, Alcatel Partner on Contact Center Offering

Microsoft and Alcatel expect to deliver a product next month that will target mid-sized companies with contact centers around the world. The two companies announced their intentions on Wednesday.

The new product will be based upon Alcatel’s OmniTouch Contact Center Premium Edition and Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0. Also slated for integration with this offering is Genesys Gplus Adapter for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, which enables voice interaction management for both Internet protocol and traditional circuit switched telephony and multimedia.

A Fresh Initiative

Microsoft has been targeting the upper end of the small and medium-sized business (SMB) and mid-market space for some time; indeed it has been said that its longstanding partnership with Genesys was formed for that reason.

Microsoft will face reinforced competition as it launches a fresh initiative to penetrate this space, Sheryl Kingstone, a Yankee Group CRM analyst, told CRM Buyer.

“The hosted contact center providers like Echopass and Fivee9 offer a viable alternative,” she said. Much of the buying decision, of course, is based on the individual firm’s needs. Companies that require standard or basic contact functionality should be satisfied with the hosted providers’ offerings — assuming they want a hosted application.

Another new source of competition are those CRM vendors that have begun offering their own integration hooks to the contact center. Previously, such functionality was strictly an equipment provider play.

Emphasizing Relationships

The alliance offers more to customers than product functionality, Robert Bernard, general manager of the Global ISV Group at Microsoft, told CRM Buyer. Buying companies do not necessarily base their purchases solely on features and functions, he pointed out.

Microsoft’s new initiative with Alcatel is part of the company’s broader push to maximize its partner relationships, Bernard explained.

“Customers decide just as much on the relationship and where it will go in the future,” he noted. “They know they are buying a relationship — and the innovation it will bring — as well as a product.”

Extending Investments

Better optimization of contact center applications and business processes, simplified configuration and installment methodologies, and faster time to market will be among the benefits the new product is expected to deliver, according to the partners.

“Alcatel brings expertise in the development and implementation of advanced multimedia contact center solutions to mid-size companies,” said Thierry Seignol, vice president of communications applications for Alcatel enterprise activities, “while Microsoft’s innovative platform technologies enable customers to build on and extend their existing IT investments to deliver breakthrough services for their customer base.”

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