The CCaaS market is growing at a remarkable rate, given the number of legacy telephony platforms facing end-of-life and the market buzz/demand for cloud offerings. Gartner estimates the CCaaS market opportunity will surpass $50 billion by 2025. Based on the huge demand for fully integrated cloud-based platforms, vendors are racing to build, acquire and release additional functionality. As a result, the sophistication of these support applications varies significantly. For example, one CCaaS vendor acquired an industry leading workforce optimization suite years ago to solidify their position in the workforce management (WFM) space. At the time, another high profile CCaaS vendor’s WFM application was considered a “throw away” due to limited functionality and poor reporting; however, the vendor had to deploy a WFM application to stay competitive. Over the years, that same vendor has refined and improved their WFM application to be a very robust offering that is used by many McIntosh clients and network partners. Yet it took time to develop that expertise internally, whereas another vendor “bought” their expertise outright. The same is true for many of the add-on applications in some of the integrated CCaaS suites; sophistication and usability still varies.
All CCaaS vendors are touting Artificial Intelligence (AI).
AI is, without a doubt, the new “bright shiny object.” And while AI has been a buzzword for years, only recently have we seen actual application and results from AI initiatives in the contact center. Many of the AI capabilities touted recently have been around for years. Conversational IVR (natural language), speech analytics and intelligent virtual agent are all proven technologies that have been available to and deployed by contact centers for a decade or more. For CCaaS vendors to truly deploy AI, robotics process automation (RPA) or machine learning (ML) in the near-term, they must often partner with leading development/innovation firms. It is critical to vet any AI claims by asking for case studies and by understanding the channels in which AI was deployed. A case study that claims 25% efficiency gains is enticing, but if that gain is for an email team of 10 people, that is a very different case study than if it were for a phone rep population of 150. As AI is increasingly promoted, it will be critical to separate sales and promotion rhetoric from reality and results.
All CCaaS vendors are working diligently to expand their encryption, multi-factor authentication, etc. for enhanced security and visibility since contact centers are primary targets for fraudsters.
Forbes estimates that 60% of customer account takeovers involve the contact center (vs. website, mobile devices, retail, etc.). As a result, knowledge-based authentication (KBA) alone is no longer considered a comprehensive fraud defense (plus, it consumes costly agent handle time). CCaaS vendors are actively developing applications and partnering with firms that specialize in voice biometrics and/or device identity to beef up their security offerings. Some CCaaS vendors already have a strong core technology for voice authentication, which serves as the foundation for their fraud detection functionality.
Clients are looking to align UCaaS and CCaaS for ease of management across their enterprise.
Many firms are tired of supporting a traditional/legacy PBX platform for headquarters and field staff as well as a separate ACD platform for the contact center. As a result, CCaaS vendors have developed offerings to address the needs of users who want a voice mailbox and the ability to transfer a call but do not require sophisticated call routing, call/screen recording, etc. It is important to carefully review a CCaaS vendor’s proposal for UCaaS and CCaaS, as there should be a distinction in the functionality and license price for each user group.
CCaaS vendors have always offered a multi-channel environment, comprised of phone, email, chat (live and/or automated), and sometimes SMS.
However, the platforms are now adding expanded channels to their offerings including social media, mobile app and messaging. Some of this functionality is delivered through APIs that enable the vendor systems to integrate with messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger and the globally popular WhatsApp, which has significantly simplified implementation. Customers want to connect with companies in the way that is most comfortable or efficient for them, so CCaaS vendors are working diligently to enable their clients to provide customers with that flexibility.