Verint Acquires Witness Systems: Bringing BI to WFM
I was surprised to read the press release yesterday that Witness Systems is being acquired by Verint. I was totally out of the loop on that one! I count a few folks at Witness as friends, having worked with them since they were a strategic partner of mine during my Clarify CRM days. But I guess I am off the ‘advance notice’ list these days.
If you don’t know these companies, I suspect you will. According to the SSPA 2006 Support Technology Survey, our >$1B technology company members have $175M earmarked for contact center technology in 2007, and that includes the product areas in which Verint/Witness have a best of breed product offering. As you can see in this slide, 16% of our larger members have 2007 budget for workforce management (WFM); 15% have budget for quality monitoring (QM)–areas in which Witness/Verint (as well as Nice, Genesys and others) play.
- WFM. Workforce management is used to bring intelligence to scheduling. The system looks at historical peaks and valleys of interaction volumes, as well as what sort of questions are being asked when, and recommends schedules to best leverage the staff, including their skill levels on the various products and services supported.
QM. Quality monitoring allows capture of both agent phone conversation and agent screen activity to identify where agents may be confused by an application flows or features. Agent interactions can be monitored by supervisors or quality managers in real time or after the fact, and used for counseling sessions. Without screen capture, it is hard to monitor how agents are leveraging tools for email and chat, so this isn’t just about phone conversations
The QM and WFM world started merging when Witness acquired Blue Pumpkin, the leading WFM vendor, in late 2004. The telephony vendors, such as Genesys and Aspect, offer both QM and WFM, and as their products have matured they have put more pressure on the niche QM vendors like Nice, Witness and Verint to win deals. My former colleague at Forrester Research who covers this space, Elizabeth Herrell, thinks that ultimately this will all consolidate into the contact center/telephony market, and I suspect she is correct. Definitely consolidation among the niche vendors is the first step toward that, and the Witness/Verint deal is a sign that the consolidation is now upon us.
What is this merger about? Here’s my take: The firms have overlapping functionality for call recording and quality monitoring, so it appears partially as a bid for QM marketshare. But a $950M total cash deal sounds like more than just a play for marketshare. Verint has been messaging around their “actionable intelligence,” i.e., using analytics to derive business intelligence from captured customer interactions, and they will now be able to leverage that analytics engine to bring additional intelligence to workforce management and scheduling.
As I noted in my January 16, 2007 SSPA Accelerator, 2007 Service and Support Industry Trends:
A common refrain emerged from the last Customer Service Executive Summit: more business intelligence is needed. Companies are collecting massive stores of customer history and interaction data, but what is missing is strong, business user targeted analysis tools to identify strategic business intelligence from the data. Most CRM and service vendors are offering revamped reporting modules, sometimes using an OEM of an analytics report tool, including complex analytics to derive “order from chaos,” and identify key business learnings based on customer information or ancillary data.
This acquisition fits perfectly into this trend. What I haven’t seen yet are real case studies showing how Verint’s actionable intelligence has manifested itself in the real world. I’m trying to get additional information and will be writing about that next month, when the SSPA Research Topic of the Month is “Business Intelligence and Analytics.”
As always, if you have any comments or questions, please let me know!