Nuance Communications has acquired Interactive Notification specialist Varolii. Though the financial terms of the deal were not discussed, Nuance executives were very pleased to explain how the acquisition of Varolii is destined to help the company fill the growing demand for integrated, multichannel customer care and support offerings. Since its inception in 1999 (as Alertline), Varolii has built a customer base of over 400 businesses with over 75 million customers. It’s basic stock-in-trade involves initiating outbound alerts (as voice, SMS text or email) designed to trigger direct responses from the individuals who receive them. These alerts fall into two categories – “Contact Center” applications are notices of past-due bills, appointment reminders (for doctors), prescriptions refills or flight cancellations – designed to trigger an inbound call or direct connection to an IVR or live agent.
The other category, “Incident Communications,” represent a cloud-based expansion of Nuance’s traditional customer base and application expertise. Over the years, Varolii had carved out a market niche among utilities, government agencies and other companies with an interest in informing citizens or customers of power failures, threatening weather or other service interruptions.
In late 2011, Opus Research calculated that stand-alone interactive notification service providers generated roughly $320 million in annual revenue and was poised to grow to $500 million by the end of 2014. Market leaders at the time included Varolii (now part of Nuance), Soundbite (recently acquired by Genesys Labs) and Adeptra (now part of FICO). Varolii, itself is the product of a merger of a company called PAR3 and Envoy Worldwide. Chicago-based Centerpost, which had built its reputation by providing outbound notification to United Airlines passengers (among others) had been acquired by West Corporation in 2007.
Over the past four years, Varolii had made investments into technologies that beef-up its core “Interact Platform” to support its range of services. It is now capable of initiating high volumes of outbound messages that conform with business rules that are a product of deep analytics of what has worked in the past as well as the rules that ensure conformance with industry regulations and strictures. There is also a analytics platform called Varolii ID, which keeps track of each individual’s preferred response channel, how they respond, when they do and what has worked in the past.
For several years, Nuance has enabled its customers to offer similar services through the Nuance Notification Hub (NNH), which will continue to be marketed primarily as a premises-based solution. By Nuance’s estimation there is as much as 45% overlap in their respective customer bases. Nuance has found those customers to be highly complimentary of Varolii and pleased that Nuance will be moving forward with a complementary set of products and services.
Integrating robust outbound capabilities into enterprise multichannel customer care and eCommerce strategies is a fast-growing phenomenon. Based on feedback with existing customers, Nuance expects to see strong demand for inbound/outbound solutions integrating the “best of ” Nuance and Varolii Nuance will make the “best of” applications and features of both NNH and Varolii Interact available through a cloud-based or hybrid delivery model.
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