Enghouse acquisitions to be a good draw for end users

Customer service software vendor Enghouse Systems Ltd. has been on an acquisition spree to acquire new products, and it says that spells benefits for its customers.

The Canadian enterprise software company has been steadily acquiring small businesses in the call centre product space over the past two years. In 2012, it acquired Sweden’s Visionutveckling AB and New Zealand’s Zeacom Group Ltd. to the tune of $10.9 million and $30.6 million, respectively. In the span of a few weeks in 2011, it picked up a whole string of smaller brands – CosmoCom, Arc Solutions, Datapulse, Syntellect CIM, Telrex and Trio.

Enghouse consolidated CosmoCom, Arc, Datapulse, Syntellect, Telrex, Trio and Zeacom into a new company, Enghouse Germany, this past January. It released this week a fifth version of its call centre management product, the Enghouse Interactive Quality Management Suite this week.

“Enghouse might look to solve a need where it doesn’t apply to just one market or just one product area, but where it has the greatest impact across markets and across product areas,” says John Cray, Zeacom’s director of marketing and product management.

“Over time, that means that products will start to look like each other, will start to integrate together, and will kind of provide one seamless portfolio.”

The acquisitions are part of a three-pronged strategy that Cray says is meant to round out the gaps in the company’s portfolio.

First, Enghouse wants to reach out to both ends of the call centre spectrum – it wants to create products for both structured interactions and unstructured interactions. When customers connect with call centres, they can either speak to someone from a very organized, data-heavy structured call centre, or they can be passed on from person to person in a less structured interaction. Cray says Enghouse would like to target clients who use both kinds of interactions in their dealings with the public.

Secondly, Cray says, Enghouse aims to cover several different kinds of platforms. Compared to the call centre products of more well-known competitors like Avaya Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc., which are integrated with their own communications platforms, Enghouse plans to connect several products with different platforms. It also hopes to later offer products that complement each other, providing a full suite of products to serve companies that run call centres.

The third piece of Enghouse’s strategy would be to make sure it can appeal to different markets. For example, CosmoCom’s cloud-based market strategy is very different from its premise-based solutions, Cray says.

“That’s a different kind of go-to marketing than selling to a business who just wants to put a box in the IT department that manages their contact centre,” he says.

Enghouse’s diverse acquisitions are a good sign for end users of call centre software, says one financial analyst, who asked not to be named.

“It may not matter much to every customer this year, but if the economy improves, customers will have access to more up-to-date software,” the analyst said, pointing to a number of releases of refreshed versions of its software in the past year.

Enghouse is very good at buying smaller, less successful companies in the call centre software industry and making them profitable, the analyst said. For the acquired companies’ users, that could mean an improvement in the level of service they’re receiving.

And in the case of CosmoCom, Enghouse expanded its R and D projects, which were not as well-funded by its previous owner.

“What the user gets is software from a company that is successful enough to support it at an ongoing level,” the analyst said.

Enghouse hopes to release another iteration of its Zeacom Communications Centre, version 7.0, in October.

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Candice So
Candice Sohttp://www.itbusiness.ca
Candice is a graduate of Carleton University and has worked in several newsrooms as a freelance reporter and intern, including the Edmonton Journal, the Ottawa Citizen, the Globe and Mail, and the Windsor Star. Candice is a dog lover and a coffee drinker.

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