For the past three decades, NICE Systems (NASDAQ: NICE) has been continuing to grow. What started as a solutions provider for the call center industry has become a company that not just makes software but can serve as a key technology partner for all types of firms in various industries.
A big step forward for the Israeli company came last year when NICE Ltd. paid nearly $1 billion to acquire InContact, a cloud software maker for call centers. The deal, which came just months after it snatched up analytics firm Nexidia in a $135 million acquisition, greatly expanded the company’s customer analytics and big data capabilities and set it up to move beyond serving the needs of large companies — like customers American Airlines, Home Depot, and Morgan Stanley — and into the growing mid-market realm.
This and other developments have also allowed NICE Systems to broaden its services and build out automation offerings, an increasingly large focus for all organizations in this line of work. To learn more about the company’s current strategy and automation focus, we recently sat down to talk with Raúl Rodriguez, vice president and head of the North Cone Latin America region for NICE Systems.
Jared Wade: So we are familiar with the company, naturally, but can you explain what NICE Systems specifically focuses on — the market strategy — and your overall role as head of the northern cone region of Latin America?
Raúl Rodríguez: I run the region in terms of sales and services and support, but specifically my responsibility goes into sales. We have teams here in sales and services. Support comes from the corporation. Basically, what we do is we provide software solutions for contact centers — but now our product portfolio goes beyond contact centers. We now have solutions that optimize and automate processes in the entire organization. So now we can go beyond the contact center.
We started as a company a little more than 30 years ago, and we basically started as a recording solution for contact centers. That’s been the main focus of the company since the beginning, and now we have an enterprisewide portfolio. Basically, what we do is provide solutions to create — that’s our motto — and we create perfect experiences for customers. We have a complete journey for a customer to engage with a company for certain services or products.
And now we go even beyond that, since we can now provide part of the infrastructure based upon the acquisition that we made about a year ago of InContact. We can now provide a full sweep from the infrastructure of a contact center to the ultimate experience with a customer.
“We can develop and implement our robots in a very, very short time, so you can see benefits pretty much immediately.” – Raúl Rodriguez of NICE Systems
We can monitor everything that a customer does with a company to create a perfect experience. We provide the core workforce optimization [WFO], quality management, and then we can go even further. We provide a complete analytics solution, which is a big trending topic in the industry. Analytics is core for many organizations regarding customer experience.
We provide, with our Nexidia platform, a full sweep to understand what a customer needs, what customers are saying in a contact center, or about the organization. That’s a pretty amazing trending topic. We can hear what a customer is saying, we can translate that speech to text, not only regarding specific words, but in their sentiment, too. In that area, we have around 47%-48% of market share. So that’s another core part of our solutions right now.
Jared Wade: Excellent. And naturally automation has become a big part of all of this, right?
Raúl Rodríguez: Right. The other one, as I mentioned, is automation — robotics — which is also very much a trending topic in the industry. We have solutions, for example, to monitor processes in terms of what an agent is doing. We can also optimize those processes — making life easier for an agent or for a person that runs several applications in the desktop. We can optimize those processes and coach an agent to let him know what is next as a part of a process, and then we have solutions to automate attended and unattended processes.
What does that mean? “Unattended” is a process that doesn’t require the human touch at any moment. It doesn’t require a decision process. So we can automate all of those processes. “Attended” are processes that require, at some point, a human touch. But you can automate everything that is not adding value to the work of the agent or the person working.
So that would be the other trend, and the last one would be cloud. We now have pretty much all of our solutions and all of our products as cloud-enabled. Real cloud-enabled. So, that’s what we see in the industry. Those four big trends or big topics. That’s what we are focusing on right now.
“Everybody’s talking about automation. They call it different things — digital transformation, robotics automation — but most organizations have a person dedicated to this type of activity.” – Raúl Rodríguez
Jared Wade: RPA is the one that we are hearing the most about now in the industry, and it seems to be a very interesting time in that field right now. Things are still probably very early compared to where they’re going to get, but the advances that we’re seeing — it seems every few months — are pretty extraordinary. How generally are you seeing this progress?
Raúl Rodríguez: Everybody’s talking about automation. They call it different things — digital transformation, robotics automation — but most organizations have a person dedicated to this type of activity.
It’s something like what we saw probably years ago when business intelligence started. Organizations started to have areas and individuals responsible for business intelligence. Now, we are seeing the same here in robotics areas, and people specifically involved in automating processes in the organization. So, yeah, it’s amazing how these kinds of strategies are changing and how they’re gaining strength.
Jared Wade: So far, what is it about NICE Systems that makes you stand out in terms of automation?
Raúl Rodríguez: Well, I can tell you, we are the best. Specifically, I could say we have probably three different differentiators in terms of automation or robotics.
First is the velocity or the speed of development of our applications. We can develop and implement our robots in a very, very short time, so you can see benefits pretty much immediately with our solutions implemented in the organizations. The other one would be that we’re enterprise scale. We can pretty much automate every process in an organization. And the other one would be that we have a complete platform for attended and unattended processes. I would say that those are our three main differentiators.
There are several players in the marketplace. But I would say that we are the strongest here because of these three differentiators and because some of our competitors, though they have great products, they’re small companies. They’re companies with around 400 or 500 employees. That would give them probably a difficult time to implement or to develop more capabilities for their products.
We have probably 5,000 employees right now. Probably just our development teams are the size of these companies that I’m mentioning. We invest a lot in research and development, so I think those are pretty much our differentiators in the market.
Jared Wade: Are you seeing the market play out with you and your competitors being the shops that really provide the solutions? Or are you seeing the large companies really trying to do the research themselves and kind of get into this field with their own kind of proprietary stuff?
Raúl Rodríguez: For these kinds of projects, most of the time, the leaders are probably the IT organizations. We are working with big consulting firms, which, in pretty much all of the cases, have areas in charge of developing this type of technology. And pretty much all of the times, they are agnostic. They provide consulting services and advisory services in terms of what a company can automate and what you can do in order to implement this kind of technology. And some of the needed products are already there on the market.
“Every company is a solid prospect for this type of technology.” – Raúl Rodríguez
So, I would say organizations are approaching firms to let them know what’s there on the market — which is the best technology that fits their need. I wouldn’t think that they are doing this by themselves. Probably they’re approaching firms to help them understand and apply these technologies in their organizations. There are some other cases when they would do it by themselves, and then we can compete. It’s a free market, right?
Jared Wade: Right, of course. Yeah. What industries are you getting the most interest from? Obviously, the call centers seem to be very early adopters, and I’ve heard a lot about insurers really being interested. But are there others that are really kind of jumping into this?
Raúl Rodríguez: You know, the interesting thing about this is that every company is a solid prospect for this type of technology. Of course, we are very strong in the banking industry. Insurance is also another interesting industry for us, and of course, telcos, outsourcers, and the big contact centers.
But I would say that in the processing industry — even manufacturing — those are customers that are looking for this education. Those are companies that are looking for this type of technology. So I would say that pretty much every industry would be — or should be — interested in this type of technology.
(Image credit: NICE Systems)