Enterprise Apps

Avaya Steers Toward Fertile Mid-Market

Avaya is redoubling its efforts to gain traction in the mid-market, a neglected but potentially very lucrative niche for contact center providers.

To that end, Avaya has acquired Agile Software, the company from which it had been OEM-ing its main mid-market solution, Avaya Contact Center Express. With control over Agile and its product, Avaya will be able to better tailor and equip its offering, Gwynne Wade, vice president of Avaya’s mid-market contact center solution, told CRM Buyer.

“Agile is an 18-person company and focused on this space,” she said. “We have more resources, though, that we can bring to bear on the solution.”

The mid-market is a big focus for Avaya, which is why it opted to make the acquisition. “It is one of the key areas of the market that is growing, and we wanted to control our own destiny,” said Wade.

Avaya Contract Center Express is a multimedia contract center application that targets both formal and informal contact centers in the range of 21 to 400 agents. It runs on Avaya Aura Communication Manager, a core switch for the company. Mid-market and small businesses have other options at Avaya — for instance, Contact Center Elite, a VoIP application — but Contact Center Express is the main platform for the mid-market.

Coming Changes

In November, Avaya plans to introduce a mid-market platform that is essentially a virtualization server with communications tools, presence capabilities and CTI software. “It will be packaged on a single server with better automated install and enhanced remote support,” Wade noted. Contact Center Express will be delivered on that platform.

The acquisition is also important to Avaya’s partner channels, continued Wade. “Avaya is shifting from a high touch channel-centric model to a go-to-market model — this is designed for our channels to be successful.”

Toward that end, the application needs to “more out of the box, integrated and easier to implement,” she acknowledged. “We will be focusing more on that as we look out to the future.”

New Features

Together with its announcement that it was acquiring Agile, Avaya also introduced its latest version of Contact Center Express. Version 4.0 includes more advanced multimedia, reporting and self-service capabilities, Wade said.

Specifically, it has enhanced multimedia performance reporting on real-time and historical activity. Voice reporting has also been added to existing email and IM reporting. Users now have the choice of a range of standard reports or the ability to use custom reporting tools to create reports tailored to their specific needs.

Version 4.0 also includes new integration links to Avaya Voice Portal, the company’s automated voice, speech self-service and video customer care platform, Wade pointed out.

There are more automated capabilities, including a “Customer Requested Callback” feature that lets customers request a callback rather than hold on the line, and automatically schedules a return call from an agent.

Neglected Mid-Market

The acquisition of Agile will be good for Avaya’s customer base, Michael Barbagallo, senior analyst for contact center solutions with Current Analysis, told CRM Buyer.

“When you own a product can do what you want with it,” he remarked, whereas, “when you OEM, you have to negotiate with the vendor.”

By acquiring Agile, Avaya has said, “We are going to be in the mid-market is an even bigger way, and we want to develop the software as we see fit to do that,'” said Barbagallo.

Indeed, Avaya is not the only vendor making a play for this space. Competitors such as Cisco, Alcatel-Lucent, Aspect and Interactive Intelligence , together with a myriad of smaller vendors, have offerings aimed at this constituency.

For various reasons, though — including going to market with applications that were originally scaled to enterprises — this piece of the market has not been well served or penetrated.

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