Speech analytics software vendor Verint (News
) -- which acquired workforce optimization software vendor Witness Systems earlier this year -- has integrated the contact center solutions of the two companies on a single platform.
The combined solution, called Impact 360 (named after the popular WFO solution from Witness), is “analytics-driven workforce optimization software,” with an emphasis on the word “analytics.” This tightly integrated suite of apps includes workforce management, performance management, call recording/monitoring, speech and data analytics, customer feedback and eLearning. Verint has added new functionality to all of the apps – enhancements which it claims will help organizations “improve the entire customer service delivery network, from contact centers to branch stores and remote offices to back-office operations.”
Verint has been working toward this integration for some time – in fact, it reportedly started working on it before the acquisition of Witness Systems (News
) got into the “official talks” stage, which is how it was able to complete the integration so soon after the merger was completed. The acquisition of Witness -- an already well-established brand in the contact center indistry -- and subsequent release of next generation Impact 360 means the company has become a market share leader and is well-positioned for future growth.
As explained by Erik Laurence, vice president of solutions marketing for Verint, during a visit to TMC’s (News
) offices yesterday, the acquisition is all about “creating a better and stronger company … it’s a merger of growth.”
When asked about the restructuring, and what the new company should be called (because we really didn't know), Laurence explained that the parent company will continue to be Verint Inc., and that Verint Witness Actionable Solutions, which includes Witness Systems, now operates as a separate division within the company. As he explained, Verint Inc. was previously comprised of three divisions, Video Intelligence, Communications Intercept and Contact Center. Witness Systems, he explained, was combined with the Contact Center division, thus forming the new Verint Witness Actionable Solutions. The Video Intelligence and Communications Intercept divisions continue to be run under the Verint umbrella.
Laurence said unlike other acquisitions which have resulted in the “dead-ending” of the acquired company’s product lines (leaving the customers hanging), Verint took the approach that it was going to “protect customers’ investments” and keep the Witness portfolio of “battle-hardened” contact center applications intact. As such, the new Impact 360 is a tight integration of the existing apps – there was no major rewriting of the code on either side. The revamping not only includes a host of new features and capabilities, but also an upgrade to the overall “look and feel” of the GUI. The fact that was no major rewriting of code is good news for customers using legacy Witness or Verint apps, as they now have a seamless migration path for upgrading to Impact 360 (or any pieces of it they want to use).
Laurence said other benefits of the merger include greater scale for the company’s enhanced support and services. He said the new Verint has seen a 150 percent increase in support services and service resources. In addition, the company is undertaking a concerted effort share best practices across all departments for the purpose of building a stronger support/service organization. The new Verint also has greater scale for R&D investment -- it has, in fact, seen a 200 percent increase in R&D resources. This not to mention the company’s sheer size, vast market reach and long-term profitability: Verint now has more than 5,000 customers worldwide, including about 75 of the Fortune 100 companies. It has 2,500 employees spread in offices all over the globe. It is now one of the top 30 tech firms in the U.S., in terms of revenue, having seen 24 quarters of sequential growth to the present (you might want to read that last part again so that it sinks in).
Laurence said the introduction of the new Impact 360 means the end of the IntelliFind brand, as this technology has now been absorbed into the Impact 360 platform (of course, the company continues to support its IntelliFind customers, as this is only a name change). He said company officials had pondered the idea of coming up with an entirely new name for the suite of apps, but decided to keep the name “Impact 360” because of brand familiarity (and also simply because it worked). The only dovetailing between the two solution sets is the Recording/Quality Monitoring solutions, which are now both represented in the new Impact 360.
Major improvements to Impact 360 include a new, more integrated dashboard style portal, giving managers and agents (in fact each and every user) just the views they need and just the views they are supposed to get (as defined by business rules); faster and more accurate speech analytics (including “category wizard” and “root cause clusters” to give supervisors better business insights through more sophisticated control over the speech analytics); a richer data set for data analytics (including the integration of speech and data analytics); and a streamlined architecture (including better support for enterprise wide data and improved virtual contact center support). It also sports a “single sign-on” feature which lets any user securely sign on using a single password from any end point. Also new is the “integrated customer feedback” – which includes tools for creating, maintaining, administering and analyzing customer surveys which are delivered post-transaction over the phone or on the Web. The integration also means users will be able to perform speech analytics on recordings made using the legacy Witness QM platform.
The next generation Impact 360 also adds new functionality for back-office operations. This is a key move, because, as contact centers become increasingly “virtualized,” through Web technology, many organizations are now adopting the “informal contact center” model, which breaks down the walls of the traditional center and lets other knowledge workers within an organization take on the role of “company representative.” As such, as employees working in back office operations find themselves increasingly coming into contact with customers, it has become increasingly important that they be able to have access to the same resources as traditional agents -- and they be able to deliver the same level of customer service. With the new Impact 360, these back office workers can handle more difficult customer requests, or complex or “high value” transactions, just as if they were an agent in the main center. Furthermore, their interactions can be recorded, monitored and later analyzed so that customer service can be improved across all touch points.
Another key selling point for this flexible solution is that it lets organizations use just the apps they need, and then seamlessly grow into other apps as they become larger and more successful, or as their needs change. With the next generation Impact 360, a company can start with a few basic pieces, such as workforce management, call recording/monitoring, and analytics, and then later add other pieces, such as performance management and eLearning, without the “integration headache.”
Other enhancements include:
--Outbound forecasting and scheduling
--Strategic forecasting enhancements
--Desktop application adherence
--Improved multi-week forecasting and scheduling
--Time of withdrawal and wait list
--Self assignment of lessons
--Competency-based learning enhancements
--More and better reporting
Performance Management Enhancements:
--Create and save multiple scorecard views
--Spot trends easily with flexible graphing by time period or KPI
--Backdate goal and organizational changes
QM and Recording Enhancements:
--Evaluation and scoring enhancements
--Solution that supports PCI compliance standards
Perhaps most importantly, this one of the first WFO solutions to come tightly integrated with both speech and data analytics -- therefore it not only has the ability carry out analytics on the recorded interactions on the agent side and the customer side, and to carry out analytics on the data coming from agent side and the customer side, but to carry out analytics on both speech and data, simultaneously, to get a wider (and more balanced) view of all contact center operations (Laurence said this is why the name “Impact 360” – indicating a 360 degree view—seemed appropriate).
Verint claims that with the next generation Impact 360, “organizations can uncover valuable, previously undiscovered information, gaining a new level of visibility into contact center and enterprise performance for faster, improved decision-making.” With these new insights, they can “streamline processes” and “ensure consistency in new ways for maximum customer service effectiveness.” Organizations can also “better understand contact center growth trends through tighter links between strategic planning and tactical daily forecasting and scheduling functions, so users can combine their strategic forecasts with their tactical forecasts to increase forecast accuracy.”
With its performance management software, agents can have a window on their desktop showing how well they’re performing, in terms of key metrics or KPIs, in real time and compare their performance with the rest of the group. If an agent isn’t performing well, he or she might trigger an alert, which the manager will get, whereupon the manager can atake appropriate action. This might include additional coaching or training which can be delivered directly to the agent’s desktop via Impact 360’s eLearning component. In addition, with its sophisticated workforce management software, training and coaching can be delivered automatically, via the eLearning system, with training modules delivered directly to the agent’s desktop at off-peak times. This not only increases productivity, as agents no longer need to be shuffled off the contact center floor into a training center, it also leads to better customer service, as agents are trained right at their desks and can thus apply what they learned immediately – while it’s still relevant - on the very next call they handle.
And these are only the more basic capabilities which this flexible, powerful platform delivers.
All existing customers of Verint Witness Actionable Solutions have a seamless upgrade path, regardless of which legacy product they have installed. Companies using Verint’s ULTRA 6.x, ULTRA Select, ULTRA 8.x, ULTRA 10.x and Balance R5.x, can upgrade to Impact 360 version 10, while customers using Balance R5.x, Balance/CS R6.x, Witness Impact 360 7.x, Contact Store TDM/IP
, and WFM Director Enterprise can upgrade to Impact 360 version 7.8. Both offer the same new applications and integration capabilities.
“We are very proud to be able to offer our customers and the market at-large a unified suite in such a short period of time after announcing the Verint combination with Witness Systems,” said Dan Bodner, president and CEO, Verint Systems, in a press release
. “The new combined business remains strongly committed to all legacy solution sets – so much so that we unified capabilities from across our portfolio to create the next-generation Impact 360 suite.”
“It’s clear that by capturing customer intelligence and improving workforce performance, organizations have the greatest opportunity to leverage technology to optimize the customer experience and achieve competitive advantage,” added Nancy Treaster, senior vice president and general manager, Verint Witness Actionable Solutions. “Building on our base of industry leadership and experience, Verint and our partners are squarely focused on delivering tangible business outcomes for our customers. We are engineering the components customers want and expect from a single provider to work together in a unified way.”
“Regardless of an organization or contact center’s size and requirements, we have an offering designed to meet its specific needs today, as well as a path for growth as the company advances its customer service objectives,” Treaster explained. “We designed the next-generation Impact 360 with our global customers’ needs in mind.”
The next generation Impact 360 is available now. For more information, visit
Patrick Barnard is Assignment Editor for TMCnet and Associate Editor for Customer Interaction Solutions magazine. To see more of his articles, please visit Patrick Barnard’s columnist page.