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Cisco in the Contact Center Business: Reflecting Back and Looking Ahead


With Cisco recently closing our fiscal year, I naturally started to reflect on the past year in our contact center business, and on our history in this market.  Since Cisco entered the contact center market in 1999, the industry has changed in countless ways.  We’ve seen technologies come and go.  We’ve seen an explosion in the number of channels customers use to connect with companies.  We’ve seen the mobile device become the primary entry point to many contact centers—regardless of channel.  And we’ve seen start-ups, new business models, consolidations, and divestitures.

With all of these changes and inflection points over the last decade or so, Cisco has been able to make its mark in the contact center industry.  We’ve grown steadily over the last several years.  In fact, Cisco became one of the top three Contact Center vendors after only five years in the market. As we’ve continued to grow and lead in this industry, we have shipped nearly 3 million Contact Center agent seats, providing the front line personnel with the resources needed to maintain relationships with customers. Cisco shipped 900,000 seats in just the past two years – and the impact that Cisco contact center solutions are making on the level of customer care offered by businesses of all sizes shows no signs of slowing down!

Today, universities fielding more than 25,000 student calls daily, financial institutions using 10,000 customer service agents to answer customer calls and inquiries, and countless other businesses rely on Cisco’s leading Contact Center technology to provide outstanding service and easily manage customer relationships to improve business.

On average, more than 2,600 businesses purchase Cisco Contact Center products each year, from small and medium-sized businesses to very large enterprises in markets ranging from healthcare, finance, and education to communications, travel, entertainment and retail. Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise, Packaged Contact Center Enterprise and Express solutions remain key components to managing multiple, simultaneous customer interactions over the phone, via real-time chat, web collaboration, social media and email.

Cisco has been sustaining average growth of 20 percent since entering the market, while the industry has remained relatively flat in the last five of those years, so what has allowed Cisco to continue its leadership?

Gartner’s recently-released “Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure” by Drew Kraus, Geoff Johnson & Steve Blood, released in June 2013,sheds some light. The report named Cisco a leader as well being positioned the highest in the “Ability to Execute” category. In fact, we’ve seen Cisco’s popularity amongst IT managers and channel partners help continue our strong position in this market. Specifically, the ease of quoting, selling, configuring, installing and supporting the Packaged solution for partners has resulted in great momentum with the solution – a simplified enterprise offering for businesses with fewer than 1,000 agents.

An issue with some contact center solutions over which businesses and channel partners have expressed concern includes moving from a legacy Contact Center solution to a new solution with better tools. However, the brand recognition and trust for Cisco solutions expressed amongst IT managers has made moving from a legacy system to a Cisco solution seamless for businesses, particularly those with other Cisco technology already deployed.

The needs of a business might initially start off small but may expand as customer needs continue growing, such as in the case of Liberty University’s Contact Center deployment. The university, located in Lynchburg, Virginia, first deployed Cisco Unified Contact Center Express in 2011 to respond to the 10,000 calls received on average each day without needing to increase staff. The self-service options, customizable help based on student needs and a single number reach feature for the highly mobile IT team led the university to consider Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise when the university decided to increase the number of agents beyond 400 to meet increasing student needs.

Another need we’ve heard repeatedly from businesses is an easy transition from legacy systems when deploying a new Contact Center solution. Allied Irish Bank, based in Dublin, Ireland, wanted to move away from a legacy system in multiple locations that each managed separate reporting technologies with different metrics and had unconnected technology deployed across locations. Creating a virtual Contact Center across these locations improved business processes and allowed Allied Irish Bank to deploy the company’s thousands of agents in any location.

Looking ahead, I expect that Cisco will continue to be a leader in this market.  As we hear from more and more customers that they desire to extend the reach of their customer care services, our solution differentiation makes Cisco a sensible choice for these companies.  I expect that we will see continued momentum for Contact Center solutions that include options for mobile workers and customers, incorporate social media as another invaluable tool for providing customer service, and provide video integration to provide an even more personal level of service.  These are the solutions that Cisco can deliver today, building on our leading architecture and platform.  While it’s extremely satisfying to look back at what Cisco has achieved in this market, I’m even more excited about what we will be able to deliver to our customers in the next year, and in the years to come.

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

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