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        Keith Dawson's Analyst Perspectives

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        Verint Wants You to Think Differently About Contact Centers

        Verint came to its Engage customer conference in June with the goal of changing the industry’s conversation around Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS). The industry commonly considers CCaaS to be equivalent to cloud-based voice routing, an old and perhaps outdated way of thinking about provisioning contact centers. Verint wants to flip the narrative: voice routing is not special enough anymore to warrant being the core around which buying decisions are made. In Verint’s telling, CCaaS is more than just the “ACD in the cloud.” Rather, CCaaS is the collection of all of the supporting operational applications, digital and voice, along with the open data, analytics and AI platforms underneath.

        What we are experiencing is a change in the terms of debate for how to buy for a contact center. “Cloud” has been part of the contact center deployment discussion for more than 20 years. In that time, fewer than half of seats have converted voice routing from on premises to cloud. Vendors that provide cloud voice services have become generically known as “CCaaS providers,” even though nearly all of the explosive growth in digital channels has been cloud-focused. Really, nearly all operational software is cloud-friendly, if not cloud-based. So why does the industry talk about CCaaS over here in voice routing land, but not over there in digital application land?

        For about two years, the industry has been subtly reckoning with the shift in emphasis from voice to digital interactions. Voice is still essential, but modern customer service requires support for multichannel, digital and often asynchronous interactions. These are far more complex to route and handle. The shift has profound implications across management, procurement and how success is measured. But the transition to a more complex environment has divided the vendors into roughly two camps: those that are primarily legacy voice routing specialists, and those that are mainly focused on application software for interaction handling and agent management. Voice routing companies call themselves CCaaS; others generally do not.

        So in effect, discussions about how to manage centers, including all of the critical issues around interdepartmental collaboration, multiple CX stakeholders and analyzing customer behavior, have been reduced to a simple moniker that only considers where something is deployed — cloud or on premises — not what it does or how well it works. Is CCaaS purely about cloud deployment, or is it about voice routing?

        The traditional way to outfit a center was to consider the voice infrastructure first and foremost — choose an ACD vendor, and then select applications based on the integration ecosystem supported by that vendor. Which call recording works with the ACD? Which quality evaluation tool? Which chat or SMS handler? Which speech analytics system?

        Buying this way forces Verint into a secondary position, especially in large enterprises. A contact center that starts with the voice provider leaves vendors like Verint that do not route voice chasing the add-ons left over by whichever legacy CCaaS vendor gets the pole position.

        So, Verint argues, let’s flip the script. CCaaS means contact center in the cloud, not ACD in the cloud, so vendors with the broadest platform and most capable software, including AI, should be considered first. Voice routing can be the add-on. And that way, Verint can be the primary vendor in engagements.

        This may seem like a waving of the marketing magic wand, and in some ways, it is just that. It’s a transparent effort to overturn decades of crusty thinking to change the relative positioning of vendors in a competitive space. But it also highlights the incredible shift under way that really does threaten the supremacy of legacy voice routing CCaaS players. While the industry discusses what comes after CCaaS, or beyond CCaaS, or even what CCaaS really means, the underlying transition marches on: contact centers are becoming hybrid entities that handle voice as one of many digital channels, and a very large group of vendors without ACD voice routing step onto center stage as the primary providers of tools for customer support. Since many of these vendors come from adjacent market segments like CRM, customer data management, case handling and ticketing, it has become more difficult for buyers to identify the core vendor they need to coordinate contact center operations. Verint correctly perceived an opportunity to put itself in that leadership role.

        Post-event, much of the news and conversation in the industry has focused on the idea of redefining CCaaS, but to my mind that is not the most important news to come out ofVentana_Research_2023_Assertion_CX_Automated_Interactions_3_S Engage. That would be the introduction of a series of automated AI bots, each focused on a very specific business problem arising in the contact center. Interaction automation is essential to growth — by 2026, one-half of all customer interactions will be entirely handled by automated systems, with no human in the loop, helping minimize the cost impacts of increasing volume.

        The AI models, as Verint calls them, are based on the company’s Da Vinci AI platform. Each one tackles a particular issue affecting contact centers, and because it is so focused, promises rapid time to value. For example, Da Vinci Interaction Wrap-Up uses Generative AI to produce real time summaries of interactions to capture back some of the time agents spend writing them up post-call. This can potentially save up to 20% of the time spent per agent on each interaction, along with ensuring that each summary hews to a consistent standard.

        In another case, the Da Vinci Interaction Transfer Bot automatically presents agents with a summary of a self-service interaction at the moment it crosses over to become live-agent support. This saves handling time and reduces the perception of customer effort in having to recap the interaction to the agent.

        These, and other related bots, some already on the market, are important because they bring complex AI functionality down to earth by leveraging the resources of AI in the platform to do something concrete that demonstrates tangible, quantifiable results. Those results can be expressed in terms of time saved or resources recaptured, and that in turn provides managers with more flexibility in how they allocate resources.

        With all of the attention paid to ChatGPT and large language models, it is easy to forget that applications useful in the contact center often work best when trained on domain specific data. Verint said that it is using more than twenty years of conversational data — transcripts of recorded interactions — to train its bots on specific actions that occur in service encounters.

        Our recommendations to buyers generally fall along pragmatic lines: seek out applications for contact centers that solve real world problems and show measurable outcomes. Buyers who need to provision a center from scratch or need to improve operations with a select application should choose a tentpole platform built around AI, process automation and the removal of data silos. Whether you call it Open CCaaS or not (and they do), Verint’s platform is a solid option for ensuring an orderly transition from a telephony-centric call center to a modern, integrated CX operation.


        Keith Dawson


        Keith Dawson
        Director of Research, Customer Experience

        Keith Dawson leads the software research and advisory in the Customer Experience (CX) expertise at Ventana Research, now part of ISG, covering applications that facilitate engagement to optimize customer-facing processes. His coverage areas include agent management, contact center, customer experience management, field service, intelligent self-service, voice of the customer and related software to support customer experiences.


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