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Verint hopes to optimize the call center, closes Witness deal

Verint Systems has completed its $950 million purchase of Witness, the latest step in a rapidly consolidating market for workforce optimization and call recording.

Verint Systems Inc. closed its acquisition of Witness Systems on Friday, following a call center industry trend toward the combination of call recording and quality monitoring technology with performance management.

Mellville, N.Y.-based Verint paid $27.50 per share for Atlanta-based Witness, a total of roughly $950 million.

"There's a lot of consolidation going on between quality monitoring and either CRM or telephony vendors," said John Ragsdale, vice president of research for the San Diego-based Service and Support Professionals Association (SSPA). "[A former colleague] thinks that telephony vendors are going to end up owning all of this. I think it all fits in CRM. Quality monitoring and workforce management are becoming very important to them."

Verint's move is just part of a wave of contact center consolidation in recent years. Its competitor in the call recording business, bought etalk last year, and Witness itself had already made its own acquisition,

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The combination of Blue Pumpkin's workforce management tools and Verint's call recording technology, something Witness had looked at providing but had difficulty developing, make the companies a good fit, Ragsdale said.

"The space needed consolidation," he said. "Most vendors had specific strengths. Initially, people thought there was a great deal of overlap, but really they're very complementary."

That's exactly what Verint was claiming when the deal closed.

"The majority of the solutions are complementary -- essentially speech and data analytics and performance management from Verint, and e-learning, e-coaching and workforce management from the Witness side," said Mariann McDonagh, senior vice president of corporate marketing. "Ultimately, we'll really be able to deliver on the promise of this vision of the customer-centric enterprise."

These are good times for call center vendors because, increasingly, the budget for new call center technology is there. According to a recent spending on speech analytics would rise 100% this year.

Call centers are just beginning to correlate quality monitoring and workforce optimization, but vendors have seen the link between the two, according to Ragsdale. In the past, scheduling and performance tools were siloed. Brought together, a call center organization can now, for example, ensure a mix of its top-performing agents along with new hires.

"There is a fundamental collapsing of quality monitoring with workforce optimization and scheduling," Ragsdale said. "It's a compelling story."

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