HP, Cisco Ally on Customer Contact Solutions

HP and Cisco announced a joint effort to drive call center solutions based on Cisco's customer contact software platform, a CRM solution. Customer contact software is used in a system for purposes such as routing customers to the most appropriate agent, escalating a situation based on previous history and enabling Web-based collaboration between a customer and an agent.

The Cisco platform combines intelligent contact management, Web collaboration and e-mail response management with Cisco's IP telephony networking solutions. Its purpose is to provide for integrated management of multiple contact channels, including Web, phone, chat, VoIP, IVR, fax and e-mail—all the channels used by customers when they try to establish contact with a business.

The new HP, Cisco agreement allows HP's Services unit to sell, integrate and service the Cisco platform. The agreement also calls for HP Services to expand its worldwide consulting practice and support organization so it can offer pre-integrated and pre-tested components for a range of businesses, from small offices and home users to large enterprises. Network, systems and applications management solutions will be based on HP OpenView products.

HP and Cisco will also develop a plan to integrate HP's Smart Contact capabilities into the Cisco platform. As part of the integration process, Cisco is acquiring the intellectual property rights to Smart Contact.

With these solutions, HP and Cisco are targeting three large markets: IP-enabled call centers (which Datamonitor forecasts will grow from 8 percent in 1998 to more than 40 percent percent by 2003), CRM-focused service providers and enterprises that want to improve the effectiveness of Web-based transactions for customers.