Questioning The Answers - Aspect's Analyst Conference
Several themes emerged at Aspect's analyst conference in Phoenix, AZ - "Everything has changed and everything is changing," "Customer Obsession," and "Questioning Answers." The last one is an outgrowth of a comment Chris Koziol, President & GM Interaction Management, made while welcoming the analysts, noting that Aspect hopes to have lots of interesting discussions and for the analysts to "get answers questioned" - an inadvertent mix-up of words that kicked off a very open, interactive event. As analysts, we love to drill down and uncover the truth about what vendors tell us, and essentially question their answers. I've been to several industry conferences where our "BS Meters" were in full force, trying to separate fact from fiction. This, however, was not the case at the Aspect event. The relatively new management team was open and forthcoming, and admitted where they still had work to do and gaps to close.
Here's some background - Aspect reinvented itself in the past two years, with a new CEO in 2012, as well as new CFO, head of sales, CMO, CIO, and more. 2012 and the first part of 2013 was a time of turning the company back around, returning to its customer interaction/contact center roots, after it's journey into the UC wilderness.
In Q3 2012, Aspect brought in Stew Bloom as the new CEO, and Bloom brought in other executives and began deploying a new strategy. The company invested in a next-gen contact center solution, as well as workforce optimization projects and greatly increasing its investment in R&D. Shortly after that the company had new customer wins and adoption of its new product. Since that time, the company's strategy for growth can be summed up as Convert, Retain, and Grow. The big question last year was, can Aspect execute on its vision and strategy.
This week in Phoenix, it was clear that, while there is still work to be done, Aspect is back in full force and is back on the radar of customers and competitors. With a new cloud-based contact center platform, a redesigned WFO solution, and other new products, as well as several impressive acquisitions, the company is back on track. Bloom noted, "In 2013 we turned Aspect back into a highly relevant company with the best software in the industry."
Acquisitions were a big part of the reinvigorated Aspect. In addition to Voxeo, the company also added Qivox (which was part of the Voxeo acquisition), and Zipwire, plus two technology alliance investments, e.g. and Lithium. Voxeo and Zipwire are important elements of Aspects cloud strategy, as it moves from being a primarily premise-based provider to a premise and SaaS provider.
While a good deal of time was spent discussing Aspect's "complete re-engineering of our purpose, vision, and products," I was most impressed with the focus on "customer obsession." In fact, the company introduced an internal customer obsession program, headed by Voxeo's Amy Downs, who was a big part of Voxeo's strong customer emphasis. Aspect is leveraging Voxeo's practices and "re-energizing our talent and culture" to focus on customer obsession. This involves engaging the company around a "redefined purpose and core values, and winning through referenceability." Customer obsession involves a commitment to the success of its customers, and includes a drive to improve the company's net promoter score, transforming its support program with a focus on initiatives in people, process, technology, as described by Gwen Braygreen, SVP Technical Services.
Kudos to Bloom and the others for the company's turnaround. As I mentioned, there's still lots of work to be done, but based on what I've seen and the commitment of the executive team and others, there's reason to be optimistic.