SAP’s Acquisition of Wicom Builds Contact Center and OnDemand Credibility
Yesterday SAP announced that they were acquiring Wicom Communications of Finland, a multi-channel IP telephony vendor. With Wicom Communications in the Netweaver stack, SAP will be able to offer a multichannel, all-IP, end-to-end contact center solution, integrating interaction routing processes into customer service.
Why does a CRM/ERP vendor need telephony, when they have successfully integrated with every major switch out there (Genesys, Avaya, Nortel, Cisco, etc.)? Having lived through the Nortel/Clarify acquisition, I know for a fact that there aren’t many ‘green field’ opportunities for both CRM and telephony at the enterprise level. So what gives? I see three primary reasons/benefits for this acquisition, as follows:
- SAP needs some contact center cache. Oracle/Siebel has acquired multiple telephony vendors over the last couple of years, giving them more ammunition (and needed credibility) when selling to contact center management, who spend more time on operational CTI metrics than anything else. Though SAP could already integrate with every telephony vendor in existence, having their own capabilities in-house gives them and end-to-end story and shows their dedication to the market.
- OnDemand telephony and CRM makes sense for SMB. Maybe enterprise companies don’t shop for CTI and CRM together, but mid-market companies do. SAP’s OnDemand CRM suite, released last year, will find its way into more deals with a pre-integrated telephony option. The Wicom platform is offered OnDemand or OnPremise, so expect special pricing if you buy the Wicom platform as part of SAP OnDemand.
- Interaction routing is a critical process. SAP understands the importance of business processes better than anyone, and their CRM approach has always been very process-centric. But CRM vendors tend to think customer processes start after the agent creates a support incident. The process actually begins when the customer dials the phone, types an email, or initiates a Web chat session. Now SAP will be able to address all customer processes, and I predict they will soon offer good ‘best practice’ advice for interaction routing and “right channeling.”
As I’ve said before, I’m thrilled to see SAP focus on capabilities that appeal to business users, not just more infrastructure to please IT buyers, and this is another step in the right direction. Wicom has a list of 200 customers, some of them big implementations: 1400 agents at Fujitsu, 20k calls a day at Kalix Tele 24 (a Swedish contact center outsourcer), so SAP’s continued focus on scalability appears to extend to the contact center.
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