Today, at VoiceCon 2008, we announced a global strategic alliance with Aspect Software to bring unified communications and software-powered voice to the contact center. Under terms of the multi-year, global alliance, Aspect will integrate its .NET-based contact center suite, Aspect Unified IP, with Office Communications Server. Over the next several years, Aspect will increase this interoperability and integration to deliver its next-generation contact center solution built on Office Communications Server’s voice call processing and unified communications capabilities. This new solution will be Aspect’s lead offering to both new and existing customers. Aspect will also build a professional services practice to help customers deploy, customize, and manage Microsoft’s unified communications software in the contact center – and throughout the enterprise. As part of the relationship, Microsoft is also making an equity investment in Aspect to accelerate development and adoption of the new offerings. This announcement provides strong validation and momentum for Microsoft’s software-powered voice and unified communications platform. We’re excited about the opportunity to work with them, and bring them into our partner ecosystem.
As customers make UC platform decisions – including voice – we know that they are increasingly looking for end-to-end technology and services capabilities in all parts of their organizations, including the contact center. Our joint roadmap with Aspect’s Unified IP and Unified Command and Control platforms, and Microsoft UC (including OCS), will give customers a compelling alternative to PBX- centric models. Contact centers have some of the most demanding voice and communications requirements, and there’s a huge focus on metrics and ROI. This is a place where we believe there is great value for software-powered voice and seamless communications (voice, IM, presence, email).
We are seeing a growing number of enterprises and contact centers who will deploy the Microsoft UC platform and this is a key priority for us in this partnership. As a result, as part of our announcement, Aspect is creating a new arm in their professional services group focused on Microsoft’s unified communications platform. While this agreement will start in the contact center, it will extend to the enterprise communications needs more broadly through Aspect’s professional services arm. By later this year, Aspect will have services professionals inside and outside North America - fully trained on the Microsoft UC platform including OCS (IM, Presence, and Voice) and Exchange 2007, and specializing in architectural design, implementation and integration. Aspect’s software today is already used in more than 3,000 companies in over 55 countries, and through this professional services component of our alliance, Aspect will be equipped to help these companies deploy unified communications across their organizations for contact center agents, information workers, mobile and teleworkers, and all other areas of the enterprise for software-powered voice, conferencing, IM, and presence.
Enterprise adoption of OCS is going strong. More than 35% of the Fortune 500 have licensed OCS, and this portion of our Aspect alliance is sure to accelerate this adoption and the transformation of the voice industry away from the network PBX and towards software-powered voice.