IN THE HOT SEAT: Enabling the contact centre

IN THE HOT SEAT: Enabling the contact centre

For some, contact centre management applications may be far down the list of must-have business applications. But for Genesys Labs' Gary Howes, increasing senior management involvement in decision making is proof that the sun is rising on this corner of the software market. With increased visibility and the boom in VoIP and CRM, Howes is now looking to leap-frog the value of Genesys' applications deeper into enterprise organisations and the SMB market.

How long have you been at Genesys?

Gary Howes (GH): I joined in 2002 after six years as a founder of Lucent and Avaya in Australia. Prior to that, I worked for Marconi and Intel in the UK. All up I've been in IT for 20 years.

Have you always held the Genesys channel boss role?

GH: At the time I joined, the company didn't have a mid-market offering so Genesys asked me to help them launch Genesys Express. My manager then left and I took on the channel manager's role.

What got you the gig?

GH: I have experience in channel management and direct sales. My experience at Avaya was all direct, but when they took on a hybrid model I got to see what business partners wanted as well. I understand how some vendors mistreat their channel at the end of quarters. Often in IT they say it is not how many years you have been with a company but how many quarters you have survived and I think that has been fairly true in the last few years in Australia.

How is your channel structured?

GH: Locally, Genesys is 100 per cent indirect. We have 12 partners which are wide-ranging - SIs such as Dimension Data; ISVs like CallDesign; telephone equipment manufacturers like NEC; and VARs such as Integ. Partners fall into two partner programs: InterActs for resellers of Genesys software, and InterWorks for developers of complementary software. There's no distribution tier as we are purely software and don't require warehousing capabilities.

Where does each partner fit in this model?

GH: Each one brings something unique to a customer tender. If several resellers bid on the one opportunity each proposal looks different. That way there is little channel conflict compared to other vendors and it's good for the customers as well.

What success have you had with your year-old partner programs?

GH: The programs themselves are really guidelines. They are not to do with tiers or special pricing but with partner enablement. I want to enable our partners to speak on behalf of Genesys with the same clarity that our employees can.

What led you to focus specifically on enablement?

GH: When we visited customers we used to see the contact centre manager and possibly the IT manager. Now we are seeing the managing director as they are getting paid their bonuses based on customer satisfaction. This is being measured through the contact centre. The shift has also changed the way resellers approach customers and is the basis for our move towards partner enablement. Resellers now have customer account directors who can identify where our products fit into a business, along with account managers who deal with the technical side.

What growth opportunities do you see opening up?

GH: The contact centre is the most measured part of any organisation and it is undoubtedly working at best-practice level. If you can use even a small percentage of that knowledge capability and speed of response across the rest of the organisation you will have greater customer service visibility. For example, we already link into CRM with our G-Plus adapter, but with the growth in these systems we want to integrate our solutions even further.

Working more with ISVs around interactive voice response applications and contact centre refreshes using VoIP are also growth areas.

What would you be doing if you weren't in the channel?

GH: My brother is a musician and I was a musician back in England. That looks like a pretty good life, but it doesn't pay the mortgage unless you're Sting or The Darkness. In five years time I'd still like to be in software but with a more geographically expanded role.

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