Call Centers

Report: Rough Weather Ahead for Contact Center Market

The contact center and software and service market continues to remain fragmented, according to Gartner’s latest report on the industry, with various applications in the space addressing only a portion of users’ needs.

In large part, that is because the leading functions users want from such applications — analytics, business rule engines and collaboration technologies — are rarely available in an enterprise suite, with Siebel and Microsoft the notable exceptions.

Knowledge management is another function that is becoming increasingly important.

“The complexity of managing the customer’s intentions and expectations in a cross-channel environment is straining the capabilities of core customer service applications and making the use of these agent knowledge-augmentation solutions a critical feature in most contact centers,” Gartner said.

Best of Breed Leads

For these reasons, the next generation of customer service tech innovation is likely to spring from the best of breed vendors, Gartner concluded. Packaged applications from enterprise suites, meanwhile, are expected to undergo retooling with little impact felt on customer service operations.

That said, Gartner identified Siebel, now under Oracle’s family of applications, as the leading vendor in the marketplace.

The application’s ability to span multiple locations and coordinate multiple channels has been a key driver behind its position in the marketplace, Oracle Vice President of Service Products Mike Betzer told CRM Buyer.

He pointed to one Fortune 500 customer, Ingersoll Rand, as an example of a company using the application to link together its multiple contact centers and to share customer data information.

More recently, the application has been developing functionality aimed at the mid-market, Betzer added.

New Demands

However, the enterprise approach to customer service will fail to meet market demands in the coming 18 to 24 months, Gartner predicted. These demands include handling complex interactions; outsourcing low-complexity customer service tasks to outside firms; migrating other simple tasks to a self-service environment; and embedding intelligent device management capabilities in all electronic goods.

“The impact on developers of call center/contact center software for customer service and support (CSS) is enormous and disruptive,” the report said.

“User organizations seeking advanced decision support and complex knowledge-management capabilities will be best served in one of two ways: 1) supplementing the gaps in the offerings of major business application providers’ CSS offerings; or 2) creating composite applications through a combination of in-house development and best-of-breed CSS vendors,” Gartner concluded.

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