Cisco Unified Contact Center Express

Selecting the Right Desktop for Your Cisco Unified Contact Center Express: Cisco Finesse or Cisco Agent Desktop

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This white paper is intended for those Cisco Unified Contact Center Express customers who are deciding between Cisco Finesse or Cisco® Agent Desktop for the desktop. You will find valuable information in this white paper to help you understand the differences in features and functionality between Finesse and Cisco Agent Desktop. By learning how these differences affect your business and agent/supervisor productivity, you will be able to make a well-informed decision about which solution is best for your business.

Finesse is a next-generation agent and supervisor desktop solution designed to meet the growing needs of agents, supervisors, and the administrators and developers who support them. Finesse offers numerous benefits, including:

A 100-percent browser-based agent and supervisor desktop: Finesse runs in a browser, which means you install Cisco Unified Contact Center Express (CCX) and agents simply point their browser to the Unified CCX server. There is no client executable to install and maintain, which reduces total cost of ownership.

A container architecture built for client-side integration: Finesse is more than an agent state and call control application. It is an OpenSocial gadget container, built to include third-party applications in a single agent desktop experience. Rather than switching between applications, agents will have easy access to all applications and tools from a single window, increasing agent efficiency.

An easy-to-use API: The Finesse API is a modern, open-standards-based, web API, exposed via representational state transfer (REST). Each function available in the Finesse user interface (UI) has a corresponding REST API that allows all types of integrations for developers to use. The API’s extensibility and ease of use is unprecedented on Unified CCX.

Feature Differences between Cisco Finesse and Cisco Agent Desktop

Before making a decision for your desktop, it is important that you understand the differences in features for Finesse and Cisco Agent Desktop. Licensing for Finesse is available as a Unified CCX Enhanced or Premium agent seat license.

Some key features in Cisco Agent Desktop are not yet available in Finesse. These features include:

Agent E-mail

Agent-to-agent chat

Some workflow events and actions

Blind transfer

Recent call list

On-demand call recording

Functionality Differences between Cisco Finesse and Cisco Agent Desktop

You will also want to understand the differences in functionality between Finesse and Agent Desktop. Note: Reference to a specific Finesse feature applies to both the Finesse UI and API. Developers who write Finesse applications using the Finesse API will experience the same functionality as noted below.

Agent State

Cisco Agent Desktop supports the following agent state transitions:

1. Ready to Log Out

2. Talking to Log Out

Unlike Cisco Agent Desktop where agents can make a call from the Ready state, Finesse requires agents to go to the Not Ready state to make a call and to log out. Additionally, with Finesse, agents cannot log out while in talking state.

Optional Wrap-Up Codes

Unified CCX and Cisco Agent Desktop allow agents to choose if they want to go into Wrap-Up or Work state on a call-by-call basis. With Finesse, agents don’t have this option; Wrap-Up state is either required or not allowed.

Blind Transfer

When the agent initiates a consultative transfer or conference, Cisco Agent Desktop allows the agent to complete the transfer or conference before the consulting agent answers the call. With Finesse, the consulted agent must answer the call before the transfer or conference can be completed.

Visibility of Pending State

With Cisco Agent Desktop, when the agent is talking, they see a Pending state indicator that shows them the next state. This may be Ready, Not Ready, or Work, depending on the system configuration. With Cisco Finesse, there is no Pending state indicator.

Dynamic Team Updates

When agents or supervisors are added or removed from a team, the team lists are dynamically updated in Cisco Agent Desktop. With Finesse, the supervisor needs to log in again or refresh their browser to see the change. Additionally, Finesse allows a supervisor to see an agent who has been removed from their team in their team list and perform supervisor actions on that agent. Unlike the Cisco Unified Intelligence Center gadgets that shows real‑time updates, the Team Performance gadget requires the supervisor to log in again to see the updates.

Workflow Groups Compared with Team Configuration

With Cisco Agent Desktop, administrators create workflow groups and assign agents to these groups. The workflow groups could consist of agents from different teams. Not every agent from a team needs to be part of the workflow group. Settings, like phone books and reason codes, are configured per workflow groups. This configuration is performed inside of Cisco Desktop Administrator.

Rather than having workflow groups, Finesse reads the list of agents and teams from Unified CCX. Configurations, like phone book and reason codes, are applied directly to each team.

Setting Wrap-Up Data

With Cisco Agent Desktop, agents can set wrap-up data only after the call. With Finesse, agents can set a wrap-up code at any point during the call or during Wrap-Up state.

Setting Wrap-Up Data during Silent Monitor Calls

With Cisco Agent Desktop, supervisors can’t set wrap-up data during a silent monitor call. With Finesse, supervisors can set wrap-up data during a silent monitor call.

Silent Monitoring

Finesse uses Cisco Unified Communications Manager silent monitoring instead of the Desktop and Switched Port Analyzer (SPAN) approaches employed by Cisco Agent Desktop. With Unified Communications Manager monitoring, the customer and agent audio streams are mixed using an IP phone model that supports the built-in bridge feature. When a phone call is placed to the supervisor’s phone, the supervisor will hear the customer and agent conversation through the phone.

Unified Communications Manager monitoring is different from desktop and SPAN monitoring in the following ways:

Agents need a Cisco IP phone that includes a built-in-bridge

The supervisor will hear the monitored call through their phone instead of through their PC sound card

Agent State during Direct-Dial Calls

When an agent is on a direct-dial call, Cisco Agent Desktop and Cisco Supervisor Desktop note that the phone status is Off Hook. With Finesse, there is no indication that the agent is on a direct-dial call and their agent state is Not Ready.

Silent Monitoring of Direct-Dial Calls by Supervisors

Cisco Agent Desktop and Cisco Supervisor Desktop indicate when agents are talking on both routed and direct-dial phone calls, which enables supervisors to monitor agents’ direct-dial calls.

When an agent is talking on a direct-dial call, Finesse indicates their state is Not Ready, and supervisors can’t monitor these direct-dial calls. Supervisors can only monitor calls that are routed via Unified CCX.

Valid Usernames

Cisco Agent Desktop supports a wide range of characters for usernames. Finesse supports a subset of the special characters that Unified CCX supports for agent or supervisor ID, which includes letters, numbers, hyphens (-), periods (.), and underscores (_). Agent and supervisor IDs cannot begin or end with a period, and there cannot be two consecutive periods in the username.

In addition, the following list of reserved, case-insensitive, usernames are not allowed in Finesse:







Administration on the Secondary Node

Finesse allows administration on the primary node and read-only access to the Finesse Administration application on the secondary node. If the primary server is down, the Finesse configuration cannot be adjusted.

Finesse Administration Requires a Functioning CTI Connection

Finesse retrieves the list of teams from Unified CCX in the Team Resources gadget. The Team Resources gadget is how reason codes, wrap-up codes, phone books, or workflows are assigned to teams. If the computer telephony integration (CTI) connection between the Finesse Server and Unified CCX is not functioning, the list of teams cannot be retrieved. It will not be possible to configure team-specific settings.

Phone Books

Cisco Agent Desktop provides agents access to the following phone number lists:

The recent call list, a dynamic list of up to 100 recently called phone numbers

A personal phone book, created and maintained by the agent (andenabled and disabled by the system administrator)

Up to 256 phone books (includes global and workflow group phone books); each phone book supports a maximum of 3000 directory entries

Up to 10,000 directory entries that include global, workflow group, or personal phone book entries

Finesse provides the following phone books, supporting a total of 1500 contacts across all phone books:

10 global phone books

50 team phone books

An individual phone book that includes a maximum of 1500 contacts

Agent Recording and Playback

Three available solutions exist for agent call recording and playback:

Cisco Unified Workforce Optimization Compliance Recording and Quality Management

Cisco MediaSense

Combination of Unified Workforce Optimization Compliance Recording and Quality Management and Cisco MediaSense

Unified Workforce Optimization Compliance Recording and Quality Management is a recording, compliance, and evaluation solution for agent performance optimization and dispute resolution. The software supports four recording methods, including desktop, server (SPAN), network-based, and MediaSense. The ability for an agent to control recording for manual start, pause, and add metadata is through an independent Recording Control browser instance or IP phone application. In addition, recordings can be initiated and metadata applied by the Finesse workflow. Supervisors can search, play back, or export recordings via the Unified Workforce Optimization Compliance Recording and Quality Management interface.

Additional details about integration can be found in the Quality Management Cisco Agent Desktop and Finesse Integration Guide:

MediaSense provides a network call recording, storage, and playback solution through two recording methods: network-based or gateway. The Finesse and MediaSense solution does not support agent on-demand recording. All recordings are initiated by the workflow. Supervisors can search, play back, or export recordings. In customer installations where MediaSense is not fully used for call recordings, it can be provisioned for other features, such as video on hold with Unified Communications Manager.


Agent Desktop

Cisco Agent Desktop provides the following real-time displays:

Agent automatic call distributor (ACD) State Log Display

Agent Call Log Display: Available in historical reports, it shows a record of calls made and received over the past seven days, by day

Agent Statistics Display shows performance statistics for the current day, starting at midnight and is automatically updated every 30 seconds

Contact Service Queue Statistics Display

The following gadgets are available on the Finesse agent desktop:

Home tab

- Agent CSQ Statistics Report

- Agent Team Summary Report

My Statistics tab

- Agent Statistics Report

- Agent State Log Report

The Unified CCX Administration Guide provides details about how to add additional gadgets to the agent desktop:

Supervisor Desktop

Unified CCX includes support for live data, which provides 3-second updates for real-time reporting in Cisco Unified Intelligence Center and Finesse reporting gadgets. In addition to reporting averages since midnight, averages are reported over configurable short-term (5, 10, or 15 minutes) and long-term intervals (30 minutes). This provides supervisors with a more granular view of the contact center’s performance and status. The Finesse supervisor desktop provides reports on agents’ voice calls. Because Finesse does not support email in Unified CCX 10.5, email statistics are not included in the live data reporting gadgets.

Finesse provides the following reports for supervisors:

Team State: Provides information about contact service queues (CSQs) associated with the agent, including the number of calls waiting in the queue and the longest call in the queue

Agent Team Summary: Provides call averages since midnight and in the short term (5, 10, or 15 minutes) and long term (30 minutes)

CSQ Summary: Provides a snapshot of the agent state, short-term and long-term call averages, and call statistics since midnight

CSQ Agent Detail: Provides the state, state duration, and reason code (where applicable) for all of the agents in the CSQs associated with the supervisor

All of the supervisor reports have thresholds, which can be configured by the supervisor, and visual alerts configured for threshold violations.

Agent call logs and agent state logs are available historical reports; not live data reports. The following reports, which were part of the Finesse supervisor desktop, are not included in the live data reports:

Agent Contact - Enterprise Call History

Agent Contact - Enterprise Data

The default gadgets available on the Finesse supervisor desktop are:

Team Data tab

- Team Summary Report - Short- and Long-Term Average

- Team Summary Report - Since Midnight

Queue Data tab

- Voice CSQ Agent Detail Report

- Voice CSQ Summary Report

Additional details about how to add additional gadgets to the supervisor desktop can be found in the Unified CCX Administration Guide, Release 10.0(1):

Important Considerations before Upgrading to Cisco Finesse

Keep the following considerations in mind when deciding between Cisco Agent Desktop and Cisco Finesse:

Finesse Is a Unified CCX Subsystem with Clients in the Browser

Similar to Cisco Agent Desktop, the Finesse server runs as a Unified CCX subservice on the same virtual machine as the Unified CCX server. One important difference between Cisco Agent Desktop and Finesse is that the Finesse clients run in a browser. Aside from a supported browser, you do not need to install any client software on your agent and supervisor desktops.

Finesse Requires More Client-to-Server Bandwidth than Cisco Agent Desktop

With Cisco Agent Desktop, the client user UI is part of the application that is installed on the agent desktop. Because Finesse is a browser-based desktop, the UI needs to be streamed from the Finesse server to the Finesse client. This results in requiring more bandwidth. You may access a bandwidth calculator in the Unified CCX Design Guide to help you provision the network correctly for your Finesse deployment:

Unified CCX 10.5 with Finesse Only Runs on a Virtual Machine

Earlier versions of Unified CCX prior to Unified CCX 10.0 had the ability to run on a virtual machine or a native machine. Unified CCX 10.x is only supported in deployments where Unified CCX is running on a virtual machine.

For existing customers running bare metal deployments who want Finesse, the general steps are:

1. Install a second Unified CCX instance on a virtual machine that has the same IP address and the same version as the current Unified CCX instance. To avoid networking errors associated with two devices using the same IP address, install the new instance on a private network.

2. Run a backup of the primary instance.

3. Restore the backup onto the new, virtual machine-based instance.

4. Change the IP address of the new instance and move the machine out of the private network.

5. Migrate the new instance to Unified CCX 10.5 and confirm the Cisco Finesse service is active.

Migration Utilities Are Not Available

Because Cisco Agent Desktop and Finesse configurations are very different, there are no migration utilities available. You will need to re-create your agent configuration in Finesse, including reason codes, wrap-up codes, and workflows.

However, you may import phone books using comma-separated values (CSV) files in Finesse. You can export your Cisco Agent Desktop phones to CSV, and then import them to Finesse. Because the format of the Cisco Agent Desktop and Finesse CSV files are the same, you can export from Cisco Agent Desktop and directly import into Finesse without modifying the CSV file. Please reference page 4 for the differences in phone book capacities for Finesse and Cisco Agent Desktop.

Cisco Agent Desktop and Finesse Cannot Operate Simultaneously

Cisco Agent Desktop and Finesse cannot be run at the same time using one instance of Unified CCX. For customers who want to trial Finesse, but still keep their Cisco Agent Desktop-based deployment, you may follow these general steps:

1. Install a second Unified CCX instance on a virtual machine that has the same IP address and the same version as the current Unified CCX instance. To avoid networking errors associated with two devices using the same IP address, install the new instance on a private network.

2. Run a backup of the primary instance.

3. Restore the backup onto the new instance.

4. Change the IP address of the new instance and move the machine out of the private network.

5. Migrate the new instance to Unified CCX 10.5 and activate the Finesse service on the new instance.

Installing and Administrating Finesse

The Unified CCX 10.0 Install and Administration guide will provide step-by-step instructions about how to:

Install or upgrade to Unified CCX 10.5

Configure Finesse

Add additional gadgets, such as the MediaSense search-and-play application, to Finesse

Prepare Finesse for agent and supervisor activity

Switching Back to Cisco Agent Desktop

Although you cannot run Cisco Agent Desktop and Finesse at the same time, you can switch back to Cisco Agent Desktop, if desired. You can simply deactivate Finesse and have agents log into Cisco Agent Desktop.

User Documents

The Cisco Finesse Agent and Supervisor Desktop User Guide for Cisco Unified Contact Center Express, Release 10.5 can be found here:

Custom Development

An important feature of Finesse is the ability to use the Finesse API to deliver custom functionality. To learn more about developing applications for Finesse, visit the Finesse Cisco Developer Network (CDN) Tech Center:

This site includes a wealth of valuable information, including access to:

Cisco Finesse Developer Guide

Sample code

Support forms


To obtain support for custom development, either the deployment partner or customer must have a developer support services contract.

Details about the CDN support services contract can be found here:

You may also access the Developer Network Marketplace, your source for secure, validated enterprise-class apps, products, solutions and services: