Microsoft & Aspect Software Partner on Unified Communications

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Microsoft & Aspect Software Partner on Unified Communications

Aspect SoftwareMicrosoft Office Communication ServerToday, the Microsoft Unified Communications Group announced a a multi-year strategic alliance with Aspect Software to help deliver unified communications to contact centers. Aspect Software is considered one of the leading players in the contact center space, so this is huge news for Microsoft. The goal is to bring Microsoft's Office Communications Server (OCS) 2007 unified communications software to contact centers currently or planning to use Aspect Software products. Aspect has a huge footprint in the contact center space, so this strategic alliance will help Microsoft crack into this vital space.

Aspect will design its Aspect Unified IP contact center solution to interoperate with Microsoft’s OCS platform for software-powered voice and unified communications and will offer it as the leading option to new and existing customers. Additionally, Microsoft is making an equity investment in Aspect to "accelerate the development and adoption of the new solutions and services."

I listened to the teleconference, which I recorded here if you want to listen. Here are some of the important points:
- Microsoft OCS will be offered as a primary option to all Aspect customers.
- 174 of the Fortune 500 companies have already licensed Office Communication Server. (Impressive!)
- Microsoft claims "customer adoption puts us on track to be the top 3 enterprise voice provider in a few short years."
- One important goal is to improve business processes
- Microsoft is investing in Aspect Software
- This is a 5 year strategic alliance with an option for renewal.
- Presence information will make agents more productive.
- Ask Me Expert feature provides instant access to experts while preserving the whole context of the entire call. Efficiency to the business will be enormous.
- Terms of the equity investment were not disclosed
- Microsoft's current strategic deal with Nortel is not affected.

“A key pillar of Microsoft's unified communications vision is improving access to the people and information you need to do your job better and more quickly, and, with Aspect, we aim to make this vision a reality for contact centers,” said Gurdeep Singh Pall, corporate vice president, Unified Communications Group at Microsoft. “Contact centers demand reliable and flexible communications solutions. The fact that Aspect, a noted leader, is choosing to optimize its next-generation solution for Microsoft UC is tremendous validation of the strengths of our unified communications and voice over Internet protocol platform, and for the momentum behind software-powered voice.”

Aspect will begin development of the optimized solutions immediately. This year, Aspect plans to release a new version of its .NET-based Aspect Unified IP product, which delivers interoperability with Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007, and which will include a powerful ask-an-expert capability using instant messaging and presence technology in Office Communications Server 2007. Aspect is designing this feature to enable contact center agents to find and consult with experts anywhere in a company to resolve inquiries in a single interaction.

Aspect plans to extend the interoperability of its Unified IP with Office Communications Server to include software-powered voice in subsequent releases. This solution is being designed to enable contact centers to seamlessly escalate customer interactions to different channels — phone, instant messaging, e-mail or conferencing — while addressing reliability, scalability and reporting needs.

As part of the agreement, Aspect will also build a professional services and systems integration practice for Microsoft's unified communications software. Aspect will help customers deploy, customize and manage Office Communications Server in its contact centers and throughout its organizations for software-powered voice, instant messaging, presence and conferencing.

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