A deal by hosted contact center solutions firm InContact and business communication systems (BCS) and unified communications (UC) supplier Siemens Enterprise Communications will arguably change the global BCS, UC and contact center and hosted marketplaces.
inContact and Siemens Enterprise Communications (News - Alert), a joint venture by Siemens AG and the Gores Group, have engineered a global distribution agreement in which Siemens will resell the inContact portfolio as the OpenScape Cloud Contact Center brand, powered by inContact. It is build-out of an existing referral relationship between the two firms.
Siemens will be the master exclusive distributor in the European Middle East and Africa (EMEA) market where inContact does not have a sales force. It will also nonexclusively market the inContact solution to North American and South American and Asia Pacific customers. This will be done in tight coordination with the hosting firm through a lead registration system in which it has the right of first refusal; the partner that has the best chance of winning a deal will be greenlighted, all factors such as business relationships considered.
In turn inContact will establish the cloud infrastructure in Europe and will enable and train the Siemens Enterprise Communications team to independently sell, implement and support its global contact center customers. These team players are made up of over 3,000 sales and support personnel and 3,000 channel partners worldwide. inContact will invest $1.5 million-$2 million in equipment in Europe that will be located in a data center run by a carrier or other existing businesses there. InContact will train Siemens’ staff and they will then extend that information and knowledge to their channels.
The inContact/Siemens Enterprise Communications agreement provides what is believed to be the first comprehensive secure cloud/hosted UC, BCS and inbound and outbound automated and live-agent-enabling multichannel contact center solution. It is designed to be used by any and every department in organizations of all sizes: from small businesses to large enterprises. The OpenScape offering includes voice mobility, messaging, presence, conferencing, collaboration and video. It also encompasses workforce optimization – hiring, scheduling, workforce management, voice and screen recording, quality monitoring, coaching, eLearning along with customer feedback.
The deal is enabled and supported by a nearly $24 million strategic equity investment into inContact by Siemens Enterprise Communications; its CEO Hamid Akhavan will also take a position on the inContact Board of Directors. Siemens has also committed to paying a minimum $15 million of net software revenue to InContact over the next two years: $5 million in 2012 and $10 million in 2013. The BCS/UC firm has the option to extend this through 2014 based on achieving performance criteria.
The agreement enables Siemens to complete both its cloud and its portfolio offering by utilizing the in-place and rugged inContact platform. The move provides a faster and less costly entry to the hosted contact center market for the BCS/UC firm as compared with developing its own comparable offering. The inContact platform uses, by a stroke of unintentional good fortune, Siemens OpenScape PBX (News - Alert) that was installed several months ago, reports the hosting firm; the solution had been chosen in a decision unrelated to the new agreement.
OpenScape Cloud Contact Center complements the existing premise-based OpenScape Contact Center solution to deliver choice and investment protection. With this customers can choose a cloud-based, premise-based or hybrid contact center solution that best fits their business needs that leverages Siemens Enterprise Communications’ extensive, global managed services. OpenScape Cloud Contact Center also enables customers to easily and affordably add on to an existing premise-based contact center to provide new functionality, expand to new sites and support increased capacity needs, teleworkers or seasonal workers.
OpenScape Cloud Contact Center is a compatible companion to Siemens’ existing hosted BCS and UC solutions; this permits companies to have their entire and integrated communications solutions outsourced off-premises and off-servers to a single vendor under one master contract. In March 2011 the firm announced the OpenScape Cloud Solutions, a range of cloud-based communication offerings that deliver UC and collaboration tools and which are built on OpenScape Voice, OpenScape UC and OpenScape Web Collaboration.
For example it includes the OpenScape Mobile UC Client for Android (News - Alert), which features the new OpenScape Communication Gestures will support the Call Swipe Gesture to seamlessly transfer calls-in-progress to other devices with intuitive hand gestures on a touch screen interface. It also has the OpenScape Fusion for Google (News - Alert) Apps delivers integration plug-ins for the Google Apps suite. This functionality delivers click to call and can launch voice, video and web conferences directly from within the Google cloud-based applications.
The OpenScape blended all-in-one/any-business-supporting cloud, cloud/hybrid and premise offering provides peace of mind and solid migration paths for companies wanting to try but are not quite sure about the hosting model. The roadmap is similar to one provided by suppliers when firms began to consider, test and then switch from TDM to IP. And so far no other competing BCS/UC or contact center solutions firm appears to offer anything like it.
The InContact partnership could not have come at a more opportune time for Siemens. The move embraces the cloud when the cloud is at top of decisionmakers’ minds, and for good reason. A recent report by Frost and Sullivan estimates that contact centers could achieve as much as a 58 percent total ownership cost savings (for a 500-seat center) over a three-year period and 43 percent over a five year span compared with premises deployments.
The new hosted offering may then enable Siemens Enterprise Communications to get into especially North American buyers’ headspaces when thinking about sourcing solutions. Siemens lost out to Avaya in the battle for Nortel Enterprise Solutions. Avaya, which vies with Cisco (News - Alert) as the dominant North American BCS firm is now seeking $1 billion through its IPO it announced June 9 to help pay down long-term debt. Regarding Cisco Siemens does have at least one trump card; it has a strong TDM legacy that can transition firms still using the older technology to IP.
“With the recent introduction of OpenScape Cloud Solutions, Siemens Enterprise Communications advanced our broad vision of communications innovation via the cloud and this partnership adds an immediate solution for the rapidly growing cloud contact center market,” said Chris Hummel, chief marketing officer and president, North America, for Siemens Enterprise Communications. “We looked at many cloud contact center options, and inContact delivers the most robust, feature-rich solution to complement our existing product lines. Now we can provide our customers of all sizes around the globe with the most flexible deployment options by offering them the most comprehensive cloud, on-premise, hybrid contact center and UC portfolio in the market.”
In turn, inContact expands into the EMEA and other markets where there are few comparable hosted contact center solutions firms, thereby providing it with major revenue growth opportunities. The existing Siemens Enterprise Communications investment, channels and marketing permits it to tap those potential customers that would have required considerable effort and resources if it went alone.
Siemens is a long and well-known and respected name in these markets. It currently holds number one market positions in Europe, Latin America and India; the company’s telecommunication solutions are used by 75 percent of the Global 500. It has more than a million enterprise customers in virtually every industry sector.
The Siemens name, it has been speculated, could also give inContact a leg up in the competitive North American hosted marketplace that is made up of BPO firms leveraging their platforms, telcos as value-add to their services and other app-hosting companies. The affiliation cannot but help inContact in opening doors with enterprises whose sourcing decisions are often based on, like golf, on whom you play and who wants to play with you in addition to how well you play.
“This highly strategic relationship with Siemens Enterprise Communications marks the beginning of a new era of accelerated global growth and visibility for inContact,” says Paul Jarman, InContact’s CEO. “We have never been in a better position, both financially and technologically, to capitalize on the massive opportunity before us and we continue to actively develop additional potential partnerships that will expand our presence across the globe.”
Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2011, taking place Sept. 13-15, 2011, in Austin, Texas. ITEXPO offers an educational program to help corporate decision makers select the right IP-based voice, video, fax and unified communications solutions to improve their operations. It's also where service providers learn how to profitably roll out the services their subscribers are clamoring for – and where resellers can learn about new growth opportunities. To register, click here.Brendan B. Read is TMCnet’s Senior Contributing Editor. To read more of Brendan’s articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Jennifer Russell