Trip to Enterprise Connect 2015 – It’s UC, C & C

Mar 27, 2015

In the early days of Enterprise Connect when it was called VoiceCon, I regularly went to the San Francisco show, but when the West coast version was shut down, I never made it back East. With the earlier Enterprise Connect shows in Orlando, the focus was primarily on unified communications, and rightfully so. Then it became UC and collaboration, with a smattering of contact centers, so this contact center girl didn't go, and left it to my UC counterparts. However, this year the cornucopia of solution providers showcasing contact centers, was too difficult to ignore, so off I went.

I was not disappointed. The show was bustling, and with lots of sessions and hundreds of vendors it was impossible to see even half of it, but if I had to typify contact center EC "trends" I would say:

  • Providers with a new or renewed focus on contact center
  • Non-traditional and new players adding value to customer contact
  • Omni-channel customer engagement additions and embellishments, including more mobile, contextual awareness, and analytics

Here are some highlights:

Proving it's never too late to get into contact centers, AVST, a 30 year veteran of voice messaging and UC solutions, just launched TeamQ; an informal contact center solution. This segment has been largely ignored, but important. In fact, next week I'm presenting in an 8x8 webinar on that very topic, entitled "You Have a Call Center, You Just Don't Know It!", if you want to hear more. And speaking of 8x8, the company deserves a plug for being one of the best of show winners, for its newly announced analytics offering for its Virtual Office suite.

But back to contact centers. Corvisa has been very busy in the months since it launched its cloud platform-as-a-service with PBX, UC and contact center that developers can write to. The company has since launched a full channel partner program, signed up three master agents, and has increased its direct sales force. While that was interesting, more interesting was the discussion about the speed with which the solution can be customized for a business. One example we talked about was of a company that wanted to do skills based routing combined with revenue production, which involved doing a data dip to see which agents are closing the highest revenue, so that the application can send calls to the rep that has closed the highest sale in the last 30 days for that product. Corvisa wrote and delivered this in five days with only about 100 lines of additional code, using Web services. Increasingly I'm hearing from vendors examples of speedy deployments, but compared to the old days, I'm always impressed.

Other contact center announcements of note include Avaya's delivery of cloud-based services to the mid-market through a partnership with Google. In this Tuesday morning keynote, Gary Barnett, senior vice president and general manager of Avaya Engagement Solutions, showed off the Avaya Engagement Developer Platform and talked about the new partnership.

Overall, it's no accident that there is more emphasis on contact center, which is simply the machine that drives customer engagement and the Customer Experience. But the machine wouldn't facilitate a superior Customer Experience or engagement if it weren't for the work being done to tie all interaction channels in and outside the contact center together, use analytics to understand what is happening during each customer journey, and then apply business rules and context to improve that journey.

To this end, many vendors I heard in sessions or spoke with talked of developments to facilitate this. For instance, Tod Famous, Cisco's Customer Collaboration product lead, outlined Cisco's Context Service; a cloud-based solution that tracks a customer's critical contextual data and then delivers it to an agent. This new service virtually unlimited of contextual data, and will be available to Cisco's contact center customers free of charge.

Two intriguing companies to watch announced a partnership at the show. CafeX and Humanify joined forces to deliver personalized mobile experiences. I spoke with Mike Betzer, President of Humanify, which is a subsidiary of Teletech, about the engaging mobile apps that it can deliver. One of the company's tag lines is that 'it helps companies add the human element to their business'. With the company's Expert connect that utilizes predictive analytics, companies can created cross channel personalized mobile experiences. The new Weight Watcher's coaching service, is a good example of this, pairing customers to coaches (agents) based on their profiles, and delivered engaging application that includes voice, chat, social and WebRTC video. The partnership with CafeX, a provider of customer engagement software that enhances mobile and web applications with real time communications, will help drive more personalized, and engaging applications as part of omni-channel service delivery.

Genesys is another vendor that was touting contextual awareness with its announcement of Omni-channel Customer Journey management. The summation of the announcement from its press release was "Omnichannel customer journey management combines omnichannel context, multimodality, orchestration, and journey lifecycle management to provide a great customer experience with compelling business outcomes" and consists of

  • "Sharing context across all digital and voice channels and touchpoints (omnichannel context)
  • Synchronizing multiple channels simultaneously within a single interaction (multimodality)
  • Directing journeys or interactions in step-by-step sequences (orchestration)
  • Managing the lifecycle of the customer journey – design, orchestrate, monitor and tune – to provide a personalized and context-appropriate experience for each customer (journey lifecycle management)"

This was just a smattering of the things I saw at the show. I'll be back again next year for sure.

Nancy Jamison


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.

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