Witness the future of the call center

With its purchase of Blue Pumpkin Software, Witness Systems is positioning itself for workforce management in the call center.

Witness Systems, a maker of quality monitoring and performance optimization systems, is buying Blue Pumpkin Software, a leader in contact center Workforce Management (WFM) applications. The deal is expected to close in 1Q05.


The Bottom Line: When integrated, the combined applications move contact center operations toward a technology platform that enables better control of annual labor expenses, increases productivity, and improves customer service.

What It Means to the Market: A leader in the quality monitoring market, Witness Systems has been rounding out its product to improve e-learning, performance management, and analytics over the past two years. One of its most interesting features is call mining technology, which creates a searchable database of recorded calls. Users can then search for particular words such as "problem" or "complaint" to identify issues, or words like "accept" or "blue campaign" to find marketing and sales opportunities. @8133

Meanwhile, Blue Pumpkin has risen as a leader in the contact center WFM with a system that is designed to optimally allocate the appropriate available agents based on forecasted call volume. Blue Pumpkin's Advisor suite integrates with contact center telephony systems. One particular functional standout is the ability to award unique non-cash incentives, such as preferential scheduling, for good performers. In addition to performance management and workforce management, the suite also has integrated forecasting, time record management, and agent adherence management.

While profitable, Blue Pumpkin has had trouble growing the past few years because of the number of WFM point products in the market. The two companies will operate independently through the first quarter of 2005.

What It Means for Contact Centers: With roughly 100 customers in common, the combined organization has momentum to build a fully integrated product. The integration point that delivers the most value to customers is in the scheduling of training. With Blue Pumpkin's scheduling capabilities, users should be able to schedule exactly when the training information developed in Witness is delivered to agents. E-learning is growing in importance to increase the effectiveness of agents. Automated training delivery stops the common practice of pulling agents off of the phone for a live meeting, and allows companies to develop and distribute training and information as needed within each agent's schedule.

What It Means To Retail: According to recent AMR Research Reports, 61% of retailers currently use WFM products. Nearly a third of those are planning to upgrade their product, and an additional 20% plan to implement soon. This vision of an integrated WFM and contact center platform is consistent with strategies of retail store operations executives, who are trying to streamline the interrelated processes that manage customers, products, and employees.

By moving toward a fully integrated contact center platform that contains automated workflow and data integration, companies can accelerate their evolution to fourth generation workforce management maturity.

Further, the combined application rounds out the process areas within the employee efficiency component for Six Sigma retailing. (Employee efficiency components consist of recruiting, knowledge management, learning management, task management, workforce management, and performance management. Recruiting remains the only hole.)

Recommendations

  • Current Blue Pumpkin customers—Even if another quality monitoring system is already in place, consider Witness e-learning and analytics products to increase agent effectiveness.

  • Current Witness customers—If you are having difficulty with advanced scheduling, consider Blue Pumpkin workforce management functionality once the two tools have been integrated.

  • Prospects of either company—Expand the selection process to include the footprint of both companies: mainly in workforce management, quality monitoring, analytics, and e-learning. Even if some of these processes are not a high priority today, it provides the opportunity to grow into the complete solution over time.

All materials copyright © 2004 of the AMR Research Inc.

AMR Research, Inc. is a source of analysis and advice for executives responsible for delivering performance enhancement and cost savings aided by technology. AMR Research aggregates best practices from leading global companies and provides tailored, actionable advice and research reports to every client. More information is available at www.amrresearch.com.

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