Enghouse Interactive is one of three divisions of Enghouse Systems, a publicly traded Canadian company founded in 1984. The other two divisions provide network technology to telecommunications providers and applications for public and private transportation companies; Enghouse Interactive owns the company’s three contact center systems. The corporate group has a history of growth – it now has a market capitalization of more than US$1 billion – achieved both organically and through an aggressive acquisition policy. The same applies to Enghouse Interactive. Its three core products are built on three acquisitions – Syntellect in 2002, CosmoCom in 2011 and Zeacom in 2012. Each of these has been enhanced by a combination of in-house development and integration with other acquired products. The three products are maintained and developed independently, something Enghouse Interactive says will continue for the foreseeable future. However it is working to integrate its latest acquisitions with all three products, so each will gain new capabilities.
Maintaining three products, while at the same time integrating them with new acquisitions, is a resource-intensive and expensive task, but there is a rationale for it. Unlike some other vendors that target different markets with the same product, Enghouse Interactive markets the three products to different markets. Contact Center: Enterprise, based on the products acquired from Syntellect, is designed for large organizations. It is an adaptable, scalable, high-availability multichannel platform that supports thousands of contact center seats. It is available on private or public clouds. Contact Center: Service Provider, based on the CosmoCom products, aims at telecommunications service providers, which typically use it to provide outsourced contact center services to end-user companies. It is a multitenant cloud system available on public and private clouds. Communications Center is an enhanced version of the Zeacom product. Aimed primarily at contact centers with 20 to 500 seats, but with deployments up to 1000, it is sold mostly through approved third-parties. Like the other two products it is also available on public or private clouds. Having three products with separate origins requires Enghouse Interactive to support a broad array of capabilities, most of which fall into the category of contact center infrastructure in the cloud; we advise potential customers to carefully assess which product best matches the capabilities they require. This gap is being closed to some extent as all new acquisitions, of which there are several, are being integrated with all three product sets.
Over the last four years Enghouse Interactive has made four significant acquisitions to enhance its products in the areas of knowledge management, quality monitoring and outbound dialing:
- TELREX was acquired in 2010. Its products include IP-based call recording, desktop usage recording and quality monitoring that supports agent evaluation.
- Safeharbor was acquired in 2013. Its focus is knowledge management, and it has capabilities to create and manage different types of media-rich content, a search engine to help users find content that best matches their needs, and customizable portables that enable Web-based self-service and customer forums.
- IT Sonix was acquired in 2013. Its products support historic and real-time speech analytics and agent scripting.
- IAT SmartDial Solutions was acquired in 2013. Its products support blended inbound and outbound dialing, including predictive dialing.
Along with integrating all these products, Enghouse Interactive continues to enhance the core product sets, notably Enterprise and Communications Center. As well as making the architecture of the enterprise products more resilient, there are two other developments of particular interest. Enghouse Interactive has developed a new control room console user interface especially for the utilities market. This interface is easy to use, makes use of color has point-and-click capabilities and uses icons to display information and alerts. The company also offers new mobile capabilities, which are marketed as Mobile IVR Navigator, a name that doesn’t do justice to its capabilities. Rather than providing interactive voice response per se, it enables users to develop mobile apps for customer self-service and supports seamless transfer to assisted service if customers are not be able to complete interactions in the app.
There is also an update of Communications Center, version 8.1. One of the strengths of the original Zeacom product was integration with Microsoft Lync. These capabilities have been further enhanced to support more devices, automate outbound dialing, enhance call flows, queue up instant messages and escalate between communication channels. The new version also includes enhancements to the user desktops. The agent desktop has added more metrics and again the user interface has been updated to meet today’s user expectations. The operator desktop goes one step further and now supports visualization and animation of call flows so an operator can see which calls are in the queue and the priority of calls; it also has capabilities to manage and view call flows, an active directory of who is available to take calls and a view of transferred calls waiting to be answered – all of these enhance call management.
I have discussed in some of my recent perspectives that improving customer experience is paramount to business success, but it is no easy thing to achieve. Our benchmark research into next-generation customer engagement shows that organizations are anticipating the need to deploy systems to improve engagement, including collaboration, more advanced customer portals, mobile apps and support for social customer service. In addition our research on the contact center in the cloud shows that increasingly organizations are looking to deploy their contact center systems beyond their own premises. And all our research consistently shows that usability – much of which depends on the user interface – is the most important criterion as organizations select new systems. Supporting such a variety of features in one product is hard, and supporting them across several products, especially newly acquired products, is a major task. However, Enghouse Interactive addresses many of these requirements, so I recommend that companies evaluate the product set that suits their market to see how it can help improve customer engagement.
Richard J. Snow
VP & Research Director