Gold Contact Center Nuggets from Enterprise Connect 2016
Mar 17, 2016
I just returned from a whirlwind Enterprise Connect in Orlando Florida. EC16 was a great event. It’s difficult to believe it’s been 16 years from the early days of when it was a bi-coastal event named VoiceCon. About that time it was primarily focused on unified communications, but since then has rightfully expanded to include the entire enterprise including collaboration and customer contact.
There was plenty on both the UC and CC side, although no central theme emerged, beyond talk of cloud, cloud and more cloud. As fellow Frost analyst, Elka Popova said at one meeting, EC isn’t a place to do a deep dive, but more of a meet and greet and catch up. While that is very true, the customer journey (customer of Enterprise Connect) for this analyst still netted some gold nuggets worth paying attention to. You can check out Elka’s take on the UC happenings at the show here. As for contact center, here is a smattering of my highlights (in alphabetical order).
As one of the finalists of the Best of Enterprise Connect Awards; a competition judged by an independent panel, 8x8 introduced next-generation capabilities for Virtual Contact Center (VCC) platform. These capabilities allow enterprises to globally manage their contact centers, and include a suite of quality management capabilities, powerful customer journey analytics, and a pre-built CRM tool that simplifies configuration and customization for customer interactions without professional services help. These are follow-on additions to VCC Global that 8x8 introduced last May. A key benefit of the announcement is that it allows even very small organizations to improve agent productivity without a deep investment. Features include:
A natively build quality management solution that is simple to use, so that “informal” contact centers, such as internal help desks or sales teams can realize the benefits afforded classic contact centers. This includes a multimedia timeline interface that lets contact center managers listen to voice recordings, watch screen captures and jump from point to point within a conversation, quick search function for managers to quickly pinpoint areas of concern that might require coaching, and agent scorecards.
Customer journey analytics that provides the ability to look at contact center performance from the customers’ perspective. This helps contact center managers visually understand the full customer lifecycle from self-service through agent interaction to help identify and fix problems that would otherwise be missed. My favorite part is its ability to provide insights into IVR performance to help companies increase the accuracy of their call routing.
CRM integration. The VCC platform’s new EasyConfig is an out-of-the-box integration tool that gives contact center managers’ direct control over the agent experience in a very simplistic and low-cost fashion. Initial deployment will be with Salesforce.com.
Perhaps the biggest fanfare at the show was Avaya, who announced a new company and new contact center goodies. First off, it announced Avaya Breeze, the next generation of its Avaya Engagement Development Platform, as well as a new app store - the Avaya Snapp Store – an eCommerce app store for business communications. As announced, Avaya Breezes is “an open framework that brings the necessary attributes for communication in the digital age: embedded, multi-platform, mobile, fast, low risk, and workflow enabled – a key requirement to automate previously manual processes to improve digital experiences.” The key message here is it allows customers and developers to very rapidly create new workflow-based applications in hours, not months. In fact, Gary Barnett’s keynote featured Nick Kwiatkowski, who I got to speak with, who runs a team at Michigan State that has very rapidly created some money and productivity enhancing campus applications using Breeze.
The half of the Avaya buzz was the introduction of a spin-off company, Zang, a big investment by Avaya that will be governed by a separate board of directors. Zang, is a Platform-as-a-Service play, that will offer both communications platform as a service (cPaaS) and communications applications as a service, based on technology derived from Avaya assets, including those from its Esna acquisition. The first offering out of this effort is a persistent team collaboration solution (think Cisco Spark, but with oriented towards real-time collaboration).
For the second time in three years, CafeX earned top honors in the award competition; this time for its Chime video collaboration app, which was just introduced in late February. Chime allows users to launch and join voice, video, and chat sessions, as well as share documents and presentations via WebRTC, while reducing the cost and complexity of enterprise-scale video collaboration.
Cisco came out big time with Cisco Spark, a business collaboration service that includes messaging, meeting and calling capabilities. At EC it also announced customer service capabilities using Spark rooms as well. Details can be found in our December Frost blogs after Cisco’s Collaboration Summit
LiveOps Cloud made a splash by announcing a completely new Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) platform named CxEngage. CxEngage is built from the ground up as a comprehensive CCaaS suite that is built for ease of use, and simplified access to data across applications with integration to numerous third-party applications, Zendesk, Salesforce and others, as well as standard APIs to connect to other services. Residing on Amazon Web Services (AWS), the platform is true cloud, multi-tenant offering that is ultimately scalable, and takes advantage of AWS security and reliability features. This also allows it to support local presence across the globe to meet Safe Harbor and data privacy requirements.
Numonix introduced the industry’s first hybrid cloud-based certified interaction recording solution for Skype for Business in Microsoft Office 365. Numonix’s RECITE for Microsoft O365 enables cloud-based interaction recording, storage, management and retrieval of recordings via its hybrid cloud integration and Web-based portal without installing any software into the enterprise’s network. It also records all interaction types including voice, video, chat and agent desktops. Some of the features include live monitoring, agent scoring and reporting at no additional charge.
RECITE is compatible with leading voice and UC platforms, including Allworx, Avaya, Broadsoft, Cisco, Mitel, ShoreTel, Switchvox and Toshiba, and all endpoints, including Skype for Business and Microsoft Lync clients, Polycom telephones and other third-party telephones.
Last but not least, I got to meet with Plantronics at the event and hear and demo their newest line of headsets. Very cool products, and future things coming out for UC/general business and the contact center. I’m not going to repeat details here as Mohamed Alaa Saayed at Frost wrote a detailed piece here, earlier this month. I will just end by saying that these products are well worth checking out.
Nancy Jamison is a Principal Analyst within Customer Contact within the Digital Transformation group at Frost & Sullivan. She covers all aspects of customer contact including cloud and premise-based systems and applications in the core areas of inbound/outbound routing, IVR, Workforce Optimization, and recording and analytics, with a particular focus on peripheral and emerging areas that impact the Customer Experience. These include speech technologies, omni-channel customer care, Big Data, digital marketing, Back Office Workforce Optimization, and Support Interaction Optimization.