On December 8th of last year I posted an article in which I discussed the contact center and unified communications markets relative to the state of the U.S. economy titled “Unified Communications and the Economy: Quit Wringing Your Hands and Get Back to Work. In that article I cited cases of companies that have faced past recessions head-on rather than retreating into a panic of fear-induced cost cutting and irrational management decisions. I wrote about Proctor and Gamble, which has emerged from every recession over the last 100 years stronger than they were when each recession began. Companies like Hewlett Packard and Microsoft were started in the middle of recessions, as were General Electric and Disney. Compared to companies that have failed during recessionary periods, these companies maintained a positive business attitude and continued to operate with confidence in their products and with confidence in the buyer’s ability to recognize the quality of those products.
Apparently those lessons from the past have not been lost on Aspect Software which, on January 7th, announced the acquisition of Applied Information Management Limited and its wholly owned subsidiary, AIM Technology Inc., commonly known as AIM in the contact center industry. AIM was one of the original contact center analytics companies and had a previous relationship with Aspect about five years ago. That relationship was dropped in favor of an OEM agreement with Merced Systems last year but Aspect must have felt the timing was right to take control of their performance management analytics solution. Although I don’t know what Aspect’s internal rationale was that led them back to their original performance management partner, I have a feeling it might have had something to do with the common Microsoft technology platform that both Aspect and AIM share.
If there is a downside to this acquisition, I can’t find it. Aspect customers with the Merced Systems OEM solution installed will continue to be supported without change. Customers with Merced-based Aspect Performance Management solutions currently on order but not in production will have the option of implementing those systems or moving on to the new system, which will be called PerformanceEdge Performance Management. Also important to consider is the unified communications partnership Aspect has with Microsoft. Given the common Microsoft technology base that Aspect’s PerformanceEdge performance optimization suite now has and the company’s commitment to unified communications, I think there is a good possibility that there will be some new product surprises on the horizon.
Beyond Aspect’s move to bring their performance optimization solution entirely in-house, I applaud the confidence and character the company has shown in making this acquisition when so much of the contact center industry stands paralyzed in fear of what may or may not happen this year. Aspect has given notice to the industry that it does not intend to back down regardless of the stories of economic doom-and-gloom so gleefully delivered to us each day by the news media. Aspect continues to position itself for long-term success and I believe that when this recession ends, as every recession in U.S. history has, lots of Aspect’s competitors will look at Aspect’s achievements, will look at how Aspect faced-down this recession and will wish they had that kind of sand.