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Microsoft joins Aspect to build unified communications in the contact center

Deal is one of many forged with Office Communications Server

March 18, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Microsoft Corp. and Aspect Software Inc. today announced a five-year alliance to deliver unified communications capabilities to corporate contact centers via Microsoft Office Communications Server(OCS) 2007.

The deal is not exclusive, and Microsoft already works with Nortel Networks Corp. to provide technology based on OCS 2007, Gurdeep Pall, vice president of unified communications at Microsoft, said during a conference call today. Nortel also provides contact center technology and competes with Aspect in that area.

Microsoft made an equity investment in Aspect to accelerate development of the technology and related services, but the dollar amount was not disclosed. OCS will work with Aspect's Unified IP contact center technology.

Pall and Aspect CEO Jim Foy said the combined technologies will make it possible for a person reaching a customer contact center via the Web to click a button to reach an expert, via voice or another mode, to help resolve a question or problem in the first contact. Current contact center systems usually rely on getting experts who are within the local office, but the OCS technology will help reach experts through a company's global operations, Foy added. That means, for example, that a customer with one click could first reach an expert in Paris or London rather than in a company's New York office.

"The efficiency of this to a business is enormous," Foy said.

Foy said Microsoft had already been working with Aspect before today's announcement, adding that the results of the alliance will affect Aspect's product roadmap for three years at least. The five-year alliance is subject to renewal at the end of that term.

OCS 2007 has enjoyed "tremendous uptick" in the few months since its introduction, Pall said, noting that 174 of Fortune 500 companies have already licensed the product.

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