Shifts in the market due to the pandemic have upended the contact center marketplace, accelerating the inevitable migration of infrastructure to the cloud and changing the way agents are managed. The pandemic also increased the dependence customers have on contact centers in the absence of in-store buying.
This has made it an interesting time to be a Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) vendor. Competition in this space is fierce, which has led to a high level of feature parity between the various cloud vendors, and between them and traditional on-premises systems. Into the U.S. market has stepped a popular and reliable CCaaS provider from the U.K. and Europe, Content Guru. The firm is making its presence known in the U.S. via its Storm Cloud Contact Center offering.
The majority of contact center seats are still on-premises, but it appears that the transition is accelerating. Ventana Research asserts that by 2024, 7 out of 10 companies will have moved all or part of their contact center technology into the cloud. That suggests that the vendors in this space have a large opportunity ahead of them, but that they also must find ways to differentiate themselves in a crowded market with relatively low barriers to entry. They also must contend with a very different buying community within organizations. New stakeholders with marketing and sales experience are weighing in on many of the purchasing decisions on contact center provisioning. (For more on this, see the Ventana Research Analyst Perspective “The Opportunity for CX is Beyond Your Contact Center,” in the Customer Experience expertise area.)
Content Guru has a strong presence in the U.K. and Northern Europe, where it has worked with clients across a wide band of industries that include government centers, construction and manufacturing, and health care. The company comes to the U.S. with a portfolio of software applications for contact centers that is notable, including tools for workforce optimization, knowledge management and artificial intelligence, and disaster recovery or continuity solutions. This presents the company with a potential area of differentiation. Another is its focus on customer support and expert technical assistance to clients.
Content Guru primarily serves mid-market and enterprise level clients. The main product is Storm, an omnichannel platform that blends interactions from across channels into a single queue. One of Storm’s strengths is its openness; it claims to be able to connect to any third-party application or database. Given the importance of unsiloing and centralizing contact center data resources, this stands out as a plus for potential buyers.
In recent months, Content Guru has directly addressed companies that need to reconfigure their agent workforces and customer-facing contact channels in response to the pandemic. The company has announced news around customer acquisitions including agencies of the U.K. government and companies in the U.S. and Europe directly involved in providing support to impacted consumers. In one case, Content Guru built a video collaboration application for Herts Urgent Care to operate its services digitally. Going forward, we expect that Content Guru will map its ongoing development plans to align with the accelerating shifts already occurring: reconfigured workforces, the need for cloud-based reliability and security solutions, and the use of AI to provide agent guidance.
Most of the vendors in the U.S. CCaaS market have been in the space for years, some mixing UCaaS services with contact center tools. Content Guru is a relative newcomer to a U.S. market that was, until recently, focused on replacing legacy on-premises equipment with cloud services. As cloud has become a default option for most new installations, CCaaS vendors are competing against each other for displacement business in addition to their on-premises peers. With technology moving so quickly, any feature/functionality advantage one has is quickly matched by the rest, forcing all of them to differentiate based on things like customer support, usability, security, global reach and partnerships. These are strong areas in which Content Guru may compete.
To be a realistic contender, the company needs to raise its profile in the U.S., and is taking steps to do so. We believe Content Guru should build up its library of referenceable customers in the U.S. across different industries, as well as highlight the diverse set of use cases its platform can handle, like its utility in payment processing. The company offers distinctive products that combine payments with security and PCI compliance called Storm Lock and Storm Padlock for IVR and agent-assisted payments, respectively.
Content Guru has a positive reputation in Europe, which should help it gain visibility and a broader customer base in the U.S. Doing business in the U.K. and EU requires an organization to pay close attention to data security, privacy and other compliance and regulatory issues. This should appeal to the current generation of contact center buyers who are looking past the “cloud vs. on-premises” justifications in favor of more nuanced decisions based on use cases and company experience. Some CCaaS providers in the U.S. are still messaging to potential customers on the virtues of the cloud (cost and scalability, mainly). But these days, the attention to security and business continuity are more compelling arguments, which Content Guru is likely to make.