Sanjeev Aggarwal's Blog

July 22, 2009

Avaya-Nortel will prove to be a formidable competitor for Cisco in the SMB Voice & Unified Communications Market

Avaya will be runaway market share leader in the SMB and Mid-Market Voice Communications Segment with the purchase of Nortel Enterpriser Solution business

Avaya has been in heavy competition with Cisco for the SMB and Mid-Market Unified Communications market, with Cisco steadily gaining market share in the SMB IP-communication segment. However, the combined Avaya-Nortel will position them with roughly twice the market share in the worldwide SMB market – close to 30%, almost 2X of Cisco.

Sure there is product overlap between Avaya and Nortel SMB and mid-market products on the TDM and IP telephony side. However, the Nortel BCM product line is very strong and appealing to the SMB sector. Avaya has no products on the data networking side.

Avaya has been facing problems competing with Cisco on the IP-Telephony side, as Cisco can address both the IP-telephony side and the data networking product requirements of this market segment. Now that Nortel enterprise solutions include a strong data network portfolio – WLAN, secure routers, wireless access points, firewalls, etc.; Avaya will be able to offer a much more complete and competitive solution to the SMB market.

In addition to the products, Nortel will bring Avaya:

  • Large and loyal customer base
  • Leading partnerships with a large number of country leading telecom service providers like BT, Bell Canada
  • Significantly expanded routes to market with stronger portfolio of data-centric distributors and VARs (in most cases there is not much overlap in the channel)
  • Expanded geographic coverage

The current tough economic conditions have prompted SMB to somewhat slow-down the rate of migration from TDM to IP based voice communications and unified communication solutions. As the economy improves in 2010 and SMB’s again start to review their migration to IP-based solutions – the Avaya-Nortel combination will present a much stronger competitive front to Cisco.

June 3, 2009

The next generation Contact Center – Social Networking + Traditional Contact Center

The traditional contact centers now support more real-time communications technologies – VoIP, IVR, e-mail, IM. However, the intelligence and information repositories that are leveraged by these contact centers is very much static and internally focused.

With the growing popularity of social networking and community knowledge, where contact center agents can take advantage of consumers/customers helping each other with issues and queries – reducing the number of inquiry interactions the contact center service reps have to make, delivery real cost savings and improving the contact center ROI. The issue is – the lack of a comprehensive easy-to-use solution that integrates blogs, social networking sites (Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, etc.) and search to easily aggregate the desired knowledge and mesh it with the internal knowledge repository, including the customer information stored in the enterprises CRM systems.

I was at the Salesforce.com CloudForce.com seminar some time ago, where they showcased their service cloud strategy. This Service Cloud showed an elegant and easy-to-use dashboard to present and search the popular social networking sites to the contact center agents – this will help them take advantage of all the community knowledge without spending a lot of time and effort following individual solutions like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, WordPress,

Traditional contact center solutions when integrated with an easy-to-use comprehensive community knowledge solution – presents a market disruption elevating this new contact center solution to one that provides significantly higher ROI and customer satisfaction. The Salesforce.com ServiceCloud can be integrated with the traditional contact centers solutions that have primarily relied on static internal information to service the customers, and have been separated from the community knowledge in the cloud from social networking conversations, blogs and Google. The Service Cloud presents an excellent dashboard to bring these two disparate clouds to establish a cloud-based customer service platform and knowledge for contact/call centers – for customer service agents, customer self-service portals and partners. SIP and presence enable this cloud service platform, and it is ready for some very significant communication and collaboration – via VoIP phones (click to call), e-mail, or IM based conversations.

Why is this of value to Customer Contact Center solutions companies? The current leading Contact Center solutions from the leading telecom equipment vendors like Avaya, Cisco, and Nortel are more along the lines of the traditional on-premise solutions and do not present an easy solution to integrate the cloud-based community knowledge, except in some cases they have integrated search solutions by integration with Google. The Salesforce.com Service Cloud platform can be used to provide an integrated internal knowledge base and the community knowledge/social network (enterprises can define the scope, and members of their communities) from Twitter, Facebook, blogs, Google search, etc. In addition, one can include CRM to monitor customer satisfaction, address any questions/concerns, resolve problems quickly, provide product tips and tricks, and send out information in the customers’ preferred way of communication – without long waiting times or endless forwards and escalations. This could present a disruptive service solution which has the capability to significantly improve customer satisfaction and at the same time reduce the cost to provide this service.

This presents a good partnership opportunity for the traditional contact center application vendors to integrate with the social networking/community knowledge cloud-based service platform without the long internal development cycle. Adopting the Salesforce.com Service Cloud platform will provide a 1-2 years time-to-market advantage vs. the vendors that choose to do it themselves.

 


 

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