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Microsoft and Aspect Form Global Strategic Alliance

Microsoft makes equity investment in Aspect to bring Microsoft’s unified communications and voice platform to contact centers worldwide.
ORLANDO, Fla. — March 18, 2008 — Today at the VoiceCon Orlando 2008 conference, Microsoft Corp. and Aspect Software Inc., a leading contact center company, announced a multiyear strategic alliance to help deliver unified communications (UC) to contact centers around the world. Aspect will design its Aspect Unified IP contact center solution to interoperate with Microsoft’s platform for software-powered voice and unified communications and will offer it as the leading option to new and existing customers. Microsoft is making an equity investment in Aspect to accelerate the development and adoption of the new solutions and services.

“Our alliance and the resulting joint solutions are designed to enhance sales, service and support capabilities for organizations of all types and sizes, across many industries. We strongly believe that the combination of Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 and Aspect Unified IP will redefine the way companies interact with their customers,” said Jim Foy, president and CEO of Aspect. “With this alliance and its equity investment, Microsoft recognizes Aspect Unified IP as an ideal fit with its software-powered voice platform.”

“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.

“The connection between contact center technology and unified communications has not, to date, been at the center of the conversation,” said Sheila McGee-Smith, president and principal analyst, McGee-Smith Analytics. “The decision of Microsoft and Aspect to create this strategic alliance clearly demonstrates that the contact center plays an integral role in the evolution of software in the enterprise. Companies may now choose to make a choice to easily bring Microsoft UC into both their contact center and their enterprise, realizing the benefits of first call resolution and other metrics that a uniform UC strategy can deliver.”

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.

Aspect Software is majority owned by Golden Gate Capital, a San Francisco-based private equity firm with $9 billion of capital under management.

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