Enghouse Systems Ltd. is not one of the best-known brands in the contact center market, but if it keeps acquiring vendors at the rate it has been doing then it might soon be. It was founded in Canada in 1984, and from what I can see it is grown largely by acquisition to revenues of more than $120 million. It has morphed into Enghouse Interactive, which now represents nearly 90 percent of its parent company’s business. A quick look at its website shows that over its lifetime it has acquired six brands that operate in the contact center market: Arc Solutions, Cosmocom, Datapulse, Syntellect, Terex and Trio; and this doesn’t include its latest acquisition, Zeacom. After my first briefing with the company I reported on three of these acquisitions: Cosmocom, Syntellect and Zeacom.
During a more recent briefing I got to see Cosmocom and Syntellect in action, and as I suggested in my earlier report they cover very similar capabilities. The big difference is that Cosmocom is a platform used by third parties, typically telecom service providers such as BT, to build a hosted platform to provide contact center services to other end user companies, while Syntellect is the platform Enghouse uses to provide contact center systems and cloud-based services directly to its end-user clients. Both provide what I call integrated multichannel interaction management – that is, they manage the delivery and outbound capabilities to send and receive telephone calls, email and web-based chat. Both demonstrations showed similar core capabilities for companies that want to tightly integrate management of calls, email and chat. Some nice features allow the software to track users whose interactions switch across channels; which can in both cases can be surfaced through an interface built using tools provided by Enghouse, which in the case of Cosmocom can be used by service providers such as BT to develop their own interface. I wouldn’t describe either interface as overly extensive or especially modern-looking, but they do the job my research and experience show users require. It was good to see that although the development of both platforms is kept separate, there is an obvious sharing of ideas and developments between the two platforms. Both offer good administration capabilities, and a lot of effort has gone into making both easy to operate, and into allowing end user companies to make the most of licenses purchased.
During the same session I learnt more about Telrex and Enghouse’s Integration and Optimization Solutions Telrex is the Enghouse agent performance management (APM) suite that includes call recording, screen capture, quality monitoring and reporting and analysis. It’s aimed at the lower end of the market and therefore lacks core functionality found in some high-end products. However, from what I heard and saw, it does meet a high percentage of the most commonly required capabilities we identified in our APM benchmark research. The call recording works only for VOIP networks but includes core capabilities such as user trigger-driven recording, encryption, tagging calls for future search and analysis, silent monitoring and reporting. A screen recording capability captures full video of screens used by the agent. The screen captures can be linked with call recordings so users can see what agents were doing at different points within a call. Quality monitoring includes the basics, such as creating multiple types of review forms, linking these to call types, scoring, raising alerts for follow-up, and reporting and analysis that include analysis of whether agent performance is improving. The workforce management software, which is also quite basic, allows users to create work schedules based on historic interaction patterns. It provides an intuitive user interface that allows users to optimize staffing levels to expected future interaction patterns, adherence reports, and reporting and analysis. The products interface with most of the common ACD and PBX systems, both software and hardware, and overall allow users to move from using spreadsheets to manage agent performance and step up to systems with core capabilities that are relatively easy to use.
The final product I learned about, the Enghouse Integration and Optimization Solutions, was developed from what was a software-based interactive voice response system. For a non-techie like me, it’s hard to describe. The first thing that came to mind is that it is a giant software Meccano set of integration software that can be used to develop process flows for communication-driven processes, such as the flow through IVR scripts. It has component parts that from what I saw enable integration in every way possible, including with the latest communications hardware and software. These can all be pulled into process charts using a drag-and-drop designer studio that enables users to build data- and communications-driven processes. A simple example would be to recognize an inbound call, extract the customer’s identifier from IVR software, pull data from, say, a CRM system that provides a bigger profile of the customer, then route the call based on customer-related data. To help users get the most benefit, Enghouse is developing a library of common communications-driven processes that customers can either use as-is or modify to their own requirements. In an early step to provide more integrated solutions, Enghouse has integrated the product with the Syntellect product so that, for example, companies can front-end their contact center with smarter interacting routing.
Enghouse Interactive has built a varied portfolio of stand-alone products that support interaction handling. There is evidence that it is beginning some rationalization, which in order to compete successfully in the market I feel is evitable, so that it can maintain the level of investment required to keep each product competitive. In the short term, companies looking to improve interaction-handling should evaluate Enghouse’s products on their own merits and, as I will, keep asking question about the future roadmap.
Richard J. Snow
VP & Research Director