Cloud Communications Providers Boost Portfolios with Contact Center Solutions

Apr 03, 2018

Integrated Cloud-based Communications and Customer-care Capabilities Deliver Compelling Benefits

The compelling benefits of cloud architectures–more flexible capacity adjustment, more cost-effective support of remote agents and faster access to advanced features—have resulted in high growth rates in the cloud contact center market. Market revenue in North America for hosted/cloud contact center solutions surpassed on-premises product revenue in 2012, and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.7% from 2016 to 2021.

Many businesses moving their communications, customer care and other software workloads to the cloud look for providers that can offer a one-stop shop for a broader scope of their needs. An integrated set of cloud communications and contact center solutions from a single provider delivers operational efficiencies and helps ensure greater usability. More specifically, businesses can reduce vendor management costs, ensure tighter interoperability and integration among different tools, and better synchronize technology upgrade cycles.

An upcoming Frost & Sullivan study also finds that deploying UC technologies in contact center environments enables greater collaboration among agents and solution experts within the broader organization to deliver considerable benefits. Empowering the entire organization to participate in customer care can deliver superior customer service and facilitate organizational agility.

In a 2017 Frost & Sullivan survey of 542 North American IT investment decision makers, 26% of respondents reported that they were deploying a single-vendor communication infrastructure. Another 34% were deploying multiple products from multiple vendors that are not integrated. The remaining 40% of respondents were deploying tightly integrated multi-vendor solutions. By 2019, 27% of respondents expect to be deploying an end-to-end single-vendor solution. This percentage is likely to increase further as more pre-integrated solutions become available from cloud communications providers. Growing customer awareness of the compelling benefits of an integrated, single-vendor communications and customer care solution create significant opportunities for unified communications (UC) vendors and UC as-a-service (UCaaS) providers to cross-sell and upsell customers with cloud contact center-as-a-service (CCaaS) solutions.  .

Service Providers Capitalize on Opportunities to Deliver Greater Customer Value

To address these market trends, many cloud communications providers are launching CCaaS solutions, either through partnerships or technologies that have been developed internally or acquired from third parties. CCaaS solutions help providers differentiate, generate additional revenues and create stickier services.

Contact center functionality is typically offered a la carte at a significant incremental price and represents a large untapped source of revenue for hosted communications services providers. However, innovative providers are sometimes bundling contact center features with their UCaaS solutions, thus creating very competitively priced offerings.

CCaaS solutions vary significantly in terms of features and functionality. The majority of North American providers offer at least basic call center (e.g., inbound call routing), which is often sufficient for small businesses with no formal contact center departments. Increasingly, however, UCaaS providers are adding multi-channel contact center capabilities to their portfolios to better serve mid-size and enterprise customers, as well as any-size businesses with more complex customer-care requirements. Similarly, providers are enhancing their portfolios with call recording, contact center and enterprise communications analytics tools, PCI and other regulatory compliance capabilities, artificial intelligence (AI)-driven tools, and other related technologies to deliver greater customer value.

Some UCaaS providers, such as 8x8, Avaya, Evolve IP, and Mitel, acknowledged the value of integrated contact center capabilities early on and acquired/developed sophisticated contact center solutions, which are now generating strong revenues as standalone solutions as well as enhancing the appeal of their broader portfolios. Others have recently evolved their capabilities to deliver richer contact center functionality. For example, Vonage’s acquisition of Nexmo has enabled it to deliver more tailored customer care solutions to businesses.

Many of the providers partner with NICE inContact and Five9 to provide sophisticated multi-channel contact center solutions to more demanding customers. NICE inContact partners include Fuze, Jive (now part of LogMeIn), RingCentral and Vonage, among others. Five9 partners include CallTower, Fuze, Ribbon Communications (formerly GENBAND) and others.

Several recent announcements from the UCaaS provider community demonstrate increasing provider focus on delivering advanced and more tightly integrated contact center capabilities as part of their cloud solutions sets.

Recent CCaaS Announcements

Several recent announcements from the UCaaS provider community demonstrate increasing provider focus on delivering advanced and more tightly integrated contact center capabilities as part of their cloud solutions sets.

8x8

Acknowledging growing customer demand for integrated, cost-effective UCaaS and contact center solutions 8x8 announced a new series of service packages at Enterprise Connect 2018 that will be available in the summer of 2018. Including a lobby seat license, as well as a range of seat licenses from X1 to X8, the new mix-and-match packages combine different telephony, UC and customer care features on one platform to address varying needs within an organization. The most comprehensive package X8 will include the full set of Unified Communications and Contact Center features.

Avaya     

A new Contact Center Cloud solution was launched recently to boost Avaya’s value proposition in this market. It leverages the acquired Spoken technology to enable a smoother transition for existing Avaya premises-based customers to the cloud. A new IP Office Cloud solution will also be launched in the near future, which will expand IP Office consumption options.

In a surprising move, Avaya launched Avaya Mobile Experience. Through a partnership with a cellular provider, Avaya will operate as an MNO and will be delivering highly differentiated services to contact centers and enterprises. By porting their toll-free numbers to Avaya’s cellular service and leveraging advanced Avaya routing technologies, enterprises and contact centers will be able to receive more reliable caller ID and geo-location data.

CoreDial

CoreDial recently acquired Voice4Net, a cloud contact center provider, to further enhance its portfolio and deliver greater value to partners and customers alike. The acquisition will allow CoreDial to bring the following CoreDial-branded solutions to market:

  • Contact Center complete—a full-fledged voice and multi-channel contact center
  • Contact Center Voice—a voice-only call center
  • Hosted IVR

Dialpad

At Enterprise Connect 2018, Dialpad launched a call center solution built on Google Cloud Platform. Dialpad Call Center provides analytics tools to monitor agent productivity and customer data. It also delivers customized email or SMS alerts on key metrics such as wait times, queue length and abandonment rates.

Fuze

In March 2018, Fuze announced an expanded partnership with NICE InContact and a new partnership with Five9. The provider believes that possessing a broader selection of contact center solutions will allow it to better address specific customer needs. These partnerships complement Fuze’s existing, internally developed contact center offering. Fuze Contact Center is a voice-only solution providing an integrated experience for businesses deploying Fuze’s suite of applications. For larger or more complex environments, Fuze has been offering customers NICE inContact through a strategic partnership established in 2015.

Nextiva

Announced in late 2016 and rolling out through 2018, Nextiva is building service CRM, customer-to-business chat, surveys and email marketing tools directly into the NextOS platform. Based on the pricing and business model of its Analytics tools, Nextiva will allow customers to add these new pre-integrated capabilities individually, based on their specific needs at competitive pricing.

RingCentral

At Enterprise Connect 2018, RingCentral announced enhancements to its contact center offerings. More specifically, the company announced integration of RingCentral Contact Center with RingCentral Glip team messaging and collaboration as well as a new RingCentral Pulse service. Contact center agents can use existing RingCentral Glip teams or create new ones to access a broader pool of subject matter experts and leverage multiple channels—voice, video, messaging and screen share—to interact with them. RingCentral Pulse uses intelligent bots to monitor important call center metrics in real time and provide automated alerts and notifications to key stakeholders via RingCentral Glip.

Star2Star

Star2Star currently has a new multi-channel contact center solution in beta testing that will be launched in the coming months. Internally developed and based on the same underlying technology as Star2Star’s hybrid and pre-cloud communications solutions, the new offering will allow tight integration and improved collaboration across contact center agents and enterprise experts. The new offering will integrate with both Star2Star’s hybrid UCaaS solution and its new pure hosted solution.

Twilio

At Enterprise Connect 2018, Twilio further diversified its portfolio and disrupted the market with the launch of a full-fledged contact center solution. Twilio Flex combines the capabilities of Twilio’s network and platform with a contact center graphical user interface. Out of the box, Twilio Flex supports multiple customer-care channels including voice, video, text messaging, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, LINE and WeChat.

Vonage

Vonage launched two new differentiated customer-care offerings at Enterprise Connect 2018. It introduced skills-based routing and sentiment analysis tools that provide building blocks for businesses to create their own routing plans and analytical views of customer interactions and agent performance. Combined with Nexmo APIs, these solutions can be used standalone or integrated with Vonage contact center solutions.

Conclusion

Hosted IP telephony providers must capitalize on the growth opportunities in cloud contact center and address existing demand for end-to-end, single-vendor communications and customer care solutions among their customers by launching cloud contact center services. Simple ACD functionality bundled with reporting tools may suffice among cost-conscious SMBs and informal contact centers. Multi-channel contact center with advanced analytics, IVR, call recording and more will be required in the mid-market and large enterprise segments. Also important, providers must offer flexible solutions that enable integration with third-party software for greater customer value. Providers can acquire cloud contact center companies or partner with third-party providers in order to bring such capabilities to market quickly. Alternatively, providers can develop these capabilities internally.

For a more detailed analysis of the above provider announcements, please read here.


Elka Popova

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