Aspect Communications Corporation (NASDAQ: ASPT), the leading provider of enterprise customer contact solutions, and Microsoft Corporation today announced an expansion of their global strategic alliance focused on helping businesses better serve their customers by delivering standards-based contact centre solutions that are fully connected to the entire enterprise. The strengthened relationship will include more collaborative development, increased demand creation, co-marketing and global sales activities.
This announcement aligns closely with Aspect’s recently announced Uniphi architecture, designed to “unify” the contact centre and the enterprise by integrating the applications that drive business communications, customer information and workforce productivity. Aspect’s proven, award-winning contact centre solutions, coupled with the power of the Microsoft® Windows® platform and Microsoft .NET-connected Web services, result in a powerful combination for businesses looking to increase sales effectiveness, improve customer service and reduce overall costs with a focus on reliability, scalability and manageability of the platform.
“Yankee Group research indicates that architectures for mission-critical contact centres will begin to evolve towards integrated suites that eliminate the integration costs of best-of-breed component solutions over the next two years,” said Art Schoeller, senior analyst, CRM strategies at The Yankee Group. “Enterprises want to build a flexible, scaleable and reliable contact centre infrastructure that allows them to bring more enterprise-wide data to each customer contact. Aspect’s adoption of the Microsoft .NET architecture allows them to leverage an extensive array of Web services tools to accomplish that task.”
“To drive immediate returns in the new ‘connected’ enterprise IT model, customers are demanding solutions that fully integrate with both front and back-office applications,” said Sanjay Parthasarathy, corporate vice president, platform strategy and partner group, at Microsoft Corporation. “By embracing .NET and the Windows Server platform for the Uniphi architecture, Aspect and Microsoft provide a compelling long-term choice for customer-care environments.”
Expansion of Relationship
The announcement is a major expansion of the long-standing relationship between the two companies that today helps thousands of the world’s largest organisations manage their customer relationships. Aspect’s market-leading customer contact centre solutions are already optimised for .NET, and integrated product road maps will help ensure compatible and harmonised product releases in the future. Working together in joint development laboratories in Redmond, Washington, and San Jose, California, Aspect and Microsoft’s engineering teams will carefully benchmark-test and cross-certify Aspect applications with Microsoft platform software to maximise and maintain performance, scalability, reliability and security. Key Aspect applications, such as Aspect® eWorkforce Management, have already been certified for the entire Windows Server 2003 family.
“This is a natural evolution of Aspect’s relationship with Microsoft,” said Gary Barnett, Aspect’s interim president and chief executive officer. “Our dual commitment to standards-based computing and Web services means customers can take full advantage of existing infrastructure, integrate far-flung lines of business, provide the very best customer service and, of course, run their businesses more efficiently. Our joint development, marketing and sales efforts have been under way, and, with our launch of Uniphi, momentum is building quickly. In fact, we were among the first to qualify for the .NET Connected logo program earlier this year. This is a business and technology alliance that really bears fruit.”
With an extensive marketing investment by both companies, the far-reaching go-to-market strategy includes worldwide collaborative selling and a comprehensive set of integrated services and resources to provide expert assistance throughout the entire customer life cycle, from product evaluation and selection to installation, deployment and ongoing maintenance.
Unprecedented Business Value—Lowered Cost of Ownership
Aspect’s experience in large global enterprise deployments, including more than two-thirds of the Fortune 50, in combination with Microsoft’s integrated set of technologies and services, will deliver a highly reliable, scalable, secure and rapidly deployable enterprise solution at a low total cost of ownership. Both companies are committed to delivering enterprise applications that fully capitalise on the standards-based interoperability of Web services. Aspect’s contact centre solutions are also optimised for Windows Server operating systems and the Windows Server System™, including Microsoft SQL Server™ and Microsoft Exchange Server, providing organisations with enterprise-class capabilities, ease of installation and maintenance, and superior price/performance. The .NET Framework provides native support for Web services, and Visual Studio® .NET 2003 provides a high-productivity integrated development environment for Aspect’s own development as well as for customers extending or integrating Aspect solutions with other applications. Aspect applications that are optimised for SQL Server 2000 will dramatically reduce the time required to bring solutions to market, while offering the scalability for the most demanding customer requirements.
Microsoft/Aspect Product Alignment
Aspect has a leading enterprise-class contact centre solution built on the Microsoft platform. And being among the first software companies to qualify for the Microsoft .NET-Connected logo, the company is leading the Web services charge for the sector as well. The products from the companies integrate as follows:
· Aspect Enterprise Contact Server can be implemented and executed using Microsoft Windows Server 2003, SQL Server 2000, Windows XP Professional and the Microsoft .NET Framework.
· Aspect eWorkforce Management is certified for the entire Windows Server 2003 family, Datacenter certified and runs on SQL Server 2000, BizTalk® Server, Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server and the Microsoft .NET Framework.
· Aspect Customer DataMart is optimised for the Windows platform and SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition.
· Aspect Customer Self-Service is being optimised for the Windows platform, SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition, Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2003 and Microsoft Speech Server.
About Aspect's Uniphi Architecture
Aspect’s Uniphi architecture is designed to “unify” the contact centre and the enterprise by integrating the applications that drive customer communications, contact centre and customer information and workforce productivity—resulting in better insight to business and customer activity. Uniphi extends Aspect’s vision of delivering proven, multi-product solutions, whether PSTN, IP hybrid or pure VoIP, while still lowering total cost of ownership and protecting contact centre investments as new technologies and standards emerge.
About Aspect Communications
Aspect Communications Corporation (Nasdaq: ASPT) is the world’s largest company focused exclusively on contact centre solutions, and the only one that unifies workforce, information and communications to deliver exceptional customer service. The Aspect brand is trusted by more than 75 percent of the Fortune 50, and more than three million customer sales and service professionals worldwide rely on Aspect’s mission-critical business communications solutions. The company’s leadership is based on 18 years of expertise gained from more than 8,000 successful implementations worldwide. Aspect is headquartered in San Jose, California, with 24 offices in 11 countries around the world - as well as an extensive global network of systems integrators, independent software vendors and distribution partners. Aspect's UK offices are in Stockley Park, Uxbridge, Middlesex and can be reached on 0800 ASPECT (i.e. 0800 277328).
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software—any time, any place and on any device.
Aspect, the Aspect logo and the phrases and marks relating to other Aspect products and services discussed in this press release constitute one or both of the following: (1) registered trademarks and/or service marks of Aspect Communications Corporation in the United States and/or other countries or (2) intellectual property subject to protection under common law principles. All other names and marks mentioned in this document are properties of their respective owners.
Microsoft, Windows, Windows Server, Windows Server System, Visual Studio and BizTalk are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.
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