Analyst Interview Cisco


Chris Botting, Senior Director Product Development, Customer Collaboration, Cisco and Ross Daniels, Director of Marketing, Customer Collaboration, Cisco.

Cisco Directors, Chris Botting and Ross Daniels, stated that Cisco is globally the number two contact centre infrastructure provider with an estimated ACD market share of 18% globally, lagging number one provider Avaya who currently own an estimated share of over 35%. However, Cisco claims to be making inroads into Avaya's dominance. In the IVR market Cisco state they are ranked number one, and research from Gartner places Cisco in the 'Leaders' category within the Contact Centre Infrastructure Magic Quadrant.

Daniels highlighted Cisco's business performance within the ACD market. "Within the ACD business our share gains over the last couple of years have been impressive. We have jumped from number three or four to number two worldwide, and in certain markets, such as the US, we have closed the gap significantly on Avaya where Cisco has a market share of 29%."

Daniels continued, "Our projections have Cisco as number one in North America in the next 1-2 years. Our objective will then to be number one globally in the next 3-4 years."

When asked about Cisco's business focus Daniels confirmed that contact centres is now a key priority for Cisco. Daniels stated, "Cisco went through its own corporate struggles in 2011. Cisco came out of that having identified there had been too many priorities and too many things distracting us. There are now five priorities for the company, and the second of those priorities is Collaboration. There are four pillars under Collaboration, one of which is contact centre-or as we call it Customer Collaboration."

But Daniels admitted that the contact centres still struggle for attention across the broader Cisco business. He added, "For twenty years Cisco have been very successful selling and marketing 'boxes', talking to technical people about hardware solutions. Contact centre is about as opposite to that as you can get. First of all you do need people who can talk technology, but it is a bit more software oriented. Then you have to able to talk the Contact Centre Manager's and the Operations Manager's lingo."

In terms of Australia, Daniels and Botting highlighted that Australia is one market that has been recognised as one with significant opportunity for Cisco. Daniels stated, "We have lots of good things in place in this (Australian) market, a good solid product, good sales teams on the ground and a good set of partners. We have a lot things working on our side from a product, marketing, channel and sales point of view. With a little bit of extra investment we feel we can accelerate growth."

Along with greater support from Cisco's executive team and greater investment in the contact centre business, Daniels and Botting highlighted the role that product innovation has played in driving the positive contact centre business performance for Cisco. Daniels added, "We had a strong focus on innovation in 2010. We launched significant new products to the portfolio in November 2010 including our social solution, SocialMiner, a new agent desktop called Finesse and a new recording infrastructure called MediaSense. These were all big projects, and all wrapped around significant innovation. We hadn't been out to the Australian market with that much concentrated innovation in a long time." Daniels continued, "It was very well received."

Daniels went on to discuss how Cisco's focus has shifted. He stated, "As we have gone through 2011 our focus and message has shifted to innovation balanced with execution. This means focusing on the core products and developing solutions that are aimed at simplification to take advantage of the more 'mass market' opportunities."

Botting added, "There is more of a focus on operational simplification." Botting added, "Cisco Unified Contact Centre Express is a good example. For companies for whom contact centre is not their primary differentiator, Contact Centre Express is a nice turn-key all in one solution."

Botting continued, "What we have found is a section of the market that wants the attributes of our more powerful Cisco Unified Contact Centre Enterprise product but with the simplicity of Contact Centre Express. To target this need we have launched Packaged Contact Centre Enterprise in the last few months."

Botting concluded, "We think we have a really good opportunity, with Packaged Contact Centre Enterprise, in the Australian marketplace and the ability to deliver an easy sales cycle. Feedback from our Partner community has been very positive. We have turned what was traditionally a 12 month sales cycle into a four month cycle."

Cisco has identified the importance of simplification as a key message and has developed products and sales process to match. The contact centre world is becoming more complicated as the plethora of channels expands and customers demand better service. Therefore anything that makes life simpler for the contact centre should be welcome news.

More news



Queensland-based technology firm Atmail has implemented a relationship business management solution from US company Zuora to manage its customer growth.

Atmail pioneered one of the first commercial webmail applications in 1998 and now offers email and collaboration solutions to thousands of service providers and enterprises globally. "We are constantly on the lookout for new, emerging technologies as this improves our way to interact and communicate," said Atmail CEO Zach Johnson.

"Ultimately, we'll now be rapidly turning inbound leads into sales on each and every occasion," Johnson said. "Useful features include the generation of PDF invoices and email communications related to payment cycles which will improve business processes by reducing manual task and follow up. Email alerts and reminders for renewals supports will support the sales process and improve customer service." more

Hong Kong outsourcer PCCW Teleservices has won four awards at the 2014 ContactCenterWorld Asia Pacific Top Ranking Performers Conference.

PCCW Teleservices won the gold medal award for Best In Customer Service (Outsourced); silver medal awards for Best Contact Center (Outsourced) and Best Help Desk respectively, and the bronze medal award for Best Contact Center Executive / Director. "We are excited to have shared our best practices in four categories and won awards in all those categories in this year's ContactCenterWorld Awards, and are grateful to have been able to demonstrate our quality of service in this forum," said Head of PCCW Teleservices International Tony Bruno.

PCCW Teleservices is an operating subsidiary of HKT, Hong Kong's main telecommunications service provider which is majority-owned by PCCW Limited. ContactCenterWorld is a global association for contact center best practices and networking. more

Zuora powers Atmail's new subscription experience by enabling the company to provide flexible and tailored pricing & packaging, seamlessly roll out promotions, streamline new customer acquisition, and measure the health of their customer relationships

Sydney, 29 July 2014 – Zuora, the global leader in subscription billing, commerce and finance, has announced that Australian-headquartered Atmail, one of the world's leading messaging platform for mission critical deployments, has leveraged Zuora's Relationship Business Management solution, Z-Business, to rapidly scale as its businesses and customer volumes grow.

Headquartered in Queensland, Atmail is one of Australia's most successful technology companies. The company pioneered one of the first commercial webmail applications in 1998 and has been an innovator in the email industry ever since. The company's cloud billings have increased by 900 per cent in the past 12 months. Offering email and collaboration solutions to thousands of service providers and enterprises globally, Atmail supports tens of millions of paid mailboxes around the clock.

One year ago, Atmail migrated from a perpetual license sales model to a subscription SaaS platform and assessed what it required from an e-commerce and billing platform. Atmail's customers were demanding a new subscription experience in which they could rapidly sign up for the service, manage their subscription plans and be billed on a monthly basis. Furthermore, Atmail was looking for a solution that could enable them to forge more intimate, ongoing relationships with its customers along their subscription journey and to measure the health of those business relationships. Zuora's Relationship Business Management solution met those requirements.

"We are constantly on the lookout for new, emerging technologies as this improves our way to interact and communicate. Previously, we had been handicapped by being unable to change pricing, manage recurring billing, invoice in multi-currency options and roll-out marketing promotions in a timely fashion. What we required was a platform which would enable the business to transition from an annual, upfront billing cycle to monthly billing which in fact was what our customers were demanding," said Zach Johnson, CEO, Atmail.

"What appealed to us about Zuora was that the company had essentially been built for addressing the business issues we were facing – providing e-commerce functionality for a fast growing business rapidly on-boarding new clients and requiring predictable recurring revenue models. At the same time, we also appreciated Zuora's historic relationship with and benefits of the technology integration between the two companies. We also had a very positive experience with the Zuora sales team in Australia who were very proactive, knowledgeable and took a partnering approach to the overall relationship."

From a broader perspective, today's consumers are more informed and demanding by an order of magnitude. They have the world's store of knowledge at their fingertips. They expect ongoing value and unique experiences as part of their Subscription Experience. And they're not as interested in methods as they are outcomes. Zuora is at the forefront of helping innovative companies like Atmail deliver these consumers a personalized, instantly accessible service featuring the latest available intelligence and functionality.

Zuora is now being deployed to underpin Atmail's strategy in providing consumers with a tailored product and pricing plan which can be easily and flexibly created. For example, Atmail's SaaS Cloud offering can be priced with a minimum monthly fee with included usage and additional billable usage. These features were not previously available. In addition, Zuora's ability to price and invoice monthly is expected to improve customer acceptance.

Another major benefit is Zuora's PCI-complaint platform which will allow Atmail to rapidly onboard customers through facilitating the placing of orders directly with Atmail's storefront via self-service functionality. Customers requiring product bundling and customised quoting will also be managed through Zuora enabling Atmail to unlock its product catalogue and allow it to quote and sell software functionality at a component level.

The ability to revise pricing and packaging in Zuora also allows Atmail to adapt and grow with the market. Atmail will simply be able to create offers in Salesforce bundling multiple products and rate plans corresponding to specific promotional campaigns and offerings.

"Ultimately, we'll now be rapidly turning inbound leads into sales on each and every occasion. Useful features include the generation of PDF invoices and email communications related to payment cycles which will improve business processes by reducing manual task and follow up. Email alerts and reminders for renewals supports will support the sales process and improve customer service," said Johnson.

Last month, Atmail's first payment run was readily executed 30 days after the first account was added to Zuora. In a second stage of deployment later this year, Zuora will be used to improve product packaging and bundling via an online quoting and acceptance process. Atmail's reseller partners will also have visibility of the company's product catalogue as well as their customer volume and can see all the latest product offerings and bundles available.

In addition, the Zuora subscription business platform will also provide Atmail with insight on customer growth, revenue, collection, churn and financial reporting. Financial information pertinent to performing month end procedures produced within Zuora will be integrated to the Xero accounting system at the general ledger summary level.

"Zuora will bridge the gap between our customers, the webstore and enabling us to rapidly account for subscription revenue on an accrual basis. Zuora's ability to support various pricing models is key the success of our business strategy moving forward. However, managing Pay-As-You-Go is a paradigm shift for mail service providers. As a rapidly growing ISP market software provider we can now invoice on a monthly subscription basis. At the same time, our resellers can also invoice their customers with the same frequency and thereby match costs to revenue.

"Zuora will give both Atmail and our partners the flexibility, agility and dexterity to adjust with regional pricing and provide a white label store for partners. As we scale, we have total confidence in Zuora's ability to provide a high value-add customer experience and conversation," said Johnson. more

Dr Catriona Wallace defines Customer Experience Strategy. more


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