The Australian market for contact centre applications bounced back in 2010, recovering from a decline in 2009 to record growth of 16.4 per cent, and with strong growth forecast for the next seven years. Genesys, Avaya and Cisco are the top vendors with a full range of contact centre solutions, while Verint and NICE Systems lead in monitoring and optimisation solutions.
A study by Frost & Sullivan reveals that the nature of applications being deployed within contact centres is changing and that demand is shifting towards performance optimisation, quality management and multimedia applications.
According to Audrey William ICT Research Director – Australia and New Zealand, Frost & Sullivan, “Pent-up demand led to a burst of activity in the contact centre applications market during the past 12 months.”
“Previously postponed projects are getting back on track while at the same time innovations in hosting and cloud computing are making deployments easier. In addition, the Australian contact centre applications market is witnessing strong growth in performance optimisation solutions. With the growth in social media activity, there is interest to deploy social media and monitoring applications in the contact centre.”
Frost & Sullivan reports that before 2009, the computer telephony integration, automatic call distribution and interactive voice response applications accounted for the majority of contact centre applications revenues in Australia. However, William says that over the last two years the call monitoring and workforce management solutions have grown particularly strongly, accounting for about 42 per cent of overall revenues in 2010, and she predicts that his trend will continue over the coming seven years.
Over the next seven years the market is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 8.1 per cent and Frost & Sullivan says four distinct trends in contact centre applications have emerged:
Social media. The first is the rise in social media within customer service. As consumers increasingly use the social medium to voice their opinions and to interact with companies, contact centres are seeking to follow suit. Most vendors are now building solutions that tightly integrate with social media, allowing agents to communicate with customers over multiple channels. While uncertainly about the extent of social media’s impact on contact centres is expected to cause businesses to delay major deployments, it is clear that solutions such as social CRM and social media analytics will change the way organisations manage their customer service functions and will impact on traditional contact centre applications.
Speech analytics. The second notable trend is a vendor focus on speech analytics. Contact centres are discovering they can improve first call resolution rates using keywords to understand the reason for a customer’s call and to track the frequency of a particular topic. Many speech analytics solutions enable contact centres to categorise calls based on the nature of the enquiry – such as billing, sales or technical support – and to use the resultant data to project and manage call volumes. A number of application vendors are already offering such solutions and acquisitions of speech analytics providers are expected to increase in the short to medium term.
Cloud computing. The advent of cloud computing and a shift away from license based on-premise solutions is the third major trend of the past 12 months. Contact centres are increasingly attracted to the scalability offered by cloud solutions, especially as usage-based payment options allow organisations to avoid upfront license investments while providing the flexibility to adjust to periodic increases in call volumes. Frost and Sullivan predicts that cloud based solutions will be a particularly important driver for growth within the price sensitive small to medium business (SMB) segment, and that they will also help to speed the adoption of business continuity, disaster recovery and mobility technologies within the contact centre.
Mobility. The final trend to emerge is the use of mobility solutions to enable agents to escalate issues and reach subject matter experts regardless of their geographic location. For example, contact centres can now access the services of experienced agents who opt to work from home or on a part-time basis. With the contact centre platform delivered over the cloud, agents can become available using any internet enabled device such as a smartphone or tablet.
According to Frost & Sullivan, banking, financial services & insurance (BFSI) and telecommunications were the major verticals to lead contact centre adoption in 2010, accounting for nearly 60 per cent of deployments.
The analyst firm says that government and education was the third largest vertical, driven by deployments at major public service departments such as Centrelink and the Australian Taxation Office, while retail, another customer-facing industry, is also expected to generate strong demand as customer service and the role of the contact centre becomes more tightly integrated with the business strategy.
Of the vendors in the contact centre market, Frost & Sullivan says that Genesys, Avaya and Cisco are the top vendors, offering a full range of contact centre solutions, while Verint and NICE Systems lead in monitoring and optimisation solutions. However, the study found that Interactive Intelligence, Zeacom and ShoreTel are steadily growing in terms of market reputation and customer wins, and that these vendors are typically strong in the SMB segment and are also increasingly competing with larger vendors for enterprise deals.
Amongst the channel, Telstra, Optus-Alphawest and Dimension Data are Australia’s leading contact centre solution partners, accounting for the majority of deployments, according to Frost & Sullivan. William says that their strong brand name and market presence make partnership with these channels critical for major contact centre vendors. Other significant channel partners for contact centre solutions cited by Frost & Sullivan include NSC and UXC Connect (previously Integ).