Over the years, our benchmark research studies on contact center systems have shown that larger centers use dedicated contact center systems to support their operations nearly twice as often as centers that have fewer than 250 seats. Smaller centers typically lack budgets and technical skills to deploy and operate such systems. This situation is evident in the tools commonly used to support workforce management and analytics; smaller centers most often use spreadsheets. While spreadsheets have their place in limited ad hoc analysis for small groups, in an environment such as a contact center, they cause issues with regard to ingesting data from multiple sources and providing analysis in real time.
NICE, an established vendor of workforce optimization and analytics systems to larger centers that have sufficient skilled resources to set up and interpret advanced analytics, now is seeking to meet the needs of smaller centers. It recently announced two new products for this other market. Evolve WFM specifically targets smaller centers, and NPM Essentials targets organizations looking for packaged contact center performance management and analytics.
Evolve WFM has capabilities similar to those in the NICE enterprise products but not all their features. It enables users to collect historical performance data and data from various telephony systems and use it to create agent work schedules that match agent numbers and skills to likely interaction volumes and patterns. Agents can input their preferred working patterns to be taken into account when new schedules are created. Managers, supervisors and agents have different views of schedules, and Evolve WFM helps them identify issues and correct them by adjusting schedules. Other capabilities monitor agents’ adherence to schedules and provide alerts that advise supervisors and managers of what is happening and enable them to make adjustments as necessary. Agents can be alerted to any changes to schedules using email or text message so that everyone is kept up-to-date in near real time. The product’s reporting capabilities enable users to monitor their performance against key performance metrics and export some of this data, for example, to a payroll system that manages the agent’s performance-related pay. Its intuitive user interface could increase adoption and reduce training costs. As well as gearing these capabilities to smaller centers, the system is available as a cloud-based service, removing the need for in-house hardware or IT personnel, and NICE has devised a pricing model intended to attract smaller companies. Evolve WFM makes it feasible for smaller organizations to transition from spreadsheets to a workforce management system that delivers benefits similar to those of more complex products.
Our benchmark research into customer analytics shows that, unlike many other business groups, contact centers often lack skilled employees to set up and use advanced analytics systems; managers or supervisors have to do most of these tasks themselves, hence the reliance on spreadsheets. NICE’s NPM Essentials aims to address this issue by demystifying the use of analytics and performance management tools and putting them in the hands of business users. It comes as a packaged solution that has only to be configured to specific user needs and possibly develop connectors to external systems so it can ingest data from them. It has been developed with employee performance in mind and comes with built-in connectors to the other NICE WFO products and some common external systems such as CRM. It works on the principle of setting employee performance goals measurable through metrics, collecting the data to derive those metrics, analyzing performance against those goals and recommending actions that help employees more closely meet those goals. It includes extensive reporting capabilities and tools that allow users to share information and receive alerts so that action is taken.
I have written previously about NICE’s extensive portfolio of WFO, performance management and analytics products. NICE was recently rated at the highest level in being a Hot vendor in the Workforce Optimization Value Index and received a 2016 Ventana Research Technology Innovation Award in Contact Center Excellence for Adaptive WFO. The company’s acquisition of inContact extends them to contact centers in the cloud, becoming more accessible to organizations of any size. However, not all organizations have the same level of demands or the resources to make full use of advanced products and may miss out on core capabilities. I see Evolve WFM and NPM Essentials filling this gap and thus allowing organizations with lower expectations to advance the management and operations of their contact centers.
Richard J. Snow
VP & Research Director