#CCTR at #EC19

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EC is next week. I expect it will be, as usual, the busiest week of the year. Not only are there more comms related announcements this week then any other, but there is no bigger gathering of UC/CC professionals under a single dome.

I go back to the VoiceCon days, and it’s extraordinary how much has changed. Although the industry as a stodgy reputation, there’s extraordinary changes occurring. Old, but still relevant, is the migration to the cloud and with that came the expanding focus on APIs. New is a focus on on analytics and AI.

The biggest themes will be video related services at CC. I already wrote a bit about video on NoJitter, and I expect to be covering visual-first communications heavily all year. Oddly, there’s very little overlap between video and CC. What I want to cover here is a few pre-show thoughts on the contact center (CC).

CC is hot. Suddenly, there’s a realization that there’s more to the CC than deflection and omnichannel. While the industry has been using “customer engagement” to describe CC for a decade now, it’s only recently become more than a euphemism for contact center.

The switch was flipped at EC18 where CC not only emerged as a major theme, but an interesting one at that. It’s on the cutting edge of both cloud and AI, and all the pieces are in motion. I predict that it will be pretty darn hard to ignore CC at EC19.

Here’s my shortlist of the vendors to watch and know:

Avaya: Avaya announced in January its new initiatives around private cloud. It as a logical and strategic move. Many of the largest, most sophisticated contact centers remain as premises-based deployments. The private cloud is the logical stepping-stone for these customers. Most of the CC vendors talk about private cloud, but defer the real conversation to their partners where it devolves into lengthy customized designs. Avaya is effectively productizing its private cloud offers for and enabling rapid, scalable deployments.

Cisco: Cisco announced last November that no other company will outspend it on the cloud, and a quick look at job postings reveals that may be true. It’s a bold and reasonable strategy considering it has premises-based and cloud solutions, and some 3.5 million agents around the globe. Last April, Cisco announced its Customer Journey Platform as its strategic, cloud-delivered CC. I thik we are due for some updates on it and its premises-based solutions – and for those that want it all – toss in some news around hybrid (as both a design and a bridge). I also expect to hear a heavy amount of AI-related CC news.

Five9: Five9 has the wind in its CCaaS sails. The company is growing quickly and is loved by both its customers and financial analysts. At EC19 we will see what the new leadership team has been up to.  It’s an impressive team that features a diverse assortment of CC, business, and technical veterans. Five9 intends to be the CCaaS industry thought leader, well beyond the usual rhetoric of omnichannel and AI. The company is thinking very broadly and deeply, particularly around how AI changes what’s possible. The company is also positioning itself as the more adaptable option over shrink-wrap simplicity and DIY customization.

Talkdesk: Catch a rising star. This 2018 Unicorn is making a big splash at EC19 as a Platinum level sponsor and host of the event party on Monday night. Talkdesk marketing is hitting way above its weight class, but most attendees will know its name by the end of next week. I think that’s smart – it’s a very capable yet unknown brand. This will be its first EC with the 100% SLA and omnichannel capabilities it announced last summer. Talkdesk is a very nimble company with a clear focus on CCaaS, especially CSAT and simplicity. This will likely be its biggest marketing event of the year, so expect lots of interesting new details.

Twilio: Twilio Flex was launched at EC18, and it remains as one of the most disruptive services in the CCaaS space.  I expect Twilio will mostly use EC19 to update us on progress and momentum, and save its major announcements for its own Signal event this summer. Last Signal it announced Twilio Pay and Autopilot – two services that give Flex more muscle. Twilio Pay in particular addresses a common CC need (PCI) that few CC vendors directly address. Twilio is approaching CC from an entirely different perspective. Make no assumption about Twilio Flex —  Twilio doesn’t.

Vonage: Last last year Vonage acquired New Voice Media — a leading cloud contact service from Europe. It was just one of several bold acquisitions that has given Vonage an extensive range of communications software and services. While everyone in the industry is talking about tearing down silos between departments, Vonage is tearing them down between products and services. Watch Vonage continue to blur the boundaries between what many consider separate services.

Those six are just the top of the CC iceberg. CC news and features will be on every aisle of the expo hall, and probably in every keynote except Microsoft’s. I will summarize what I consider to be major announcements in my monthly Quipz report, and likely follow-up with an depth research note like I did last year.  

I don’t expect a lot of news from Amazon Connect (more about AI than CC), but do expect to see a larger AWS ecosystem form. Speaking of ecosystems, there will also be a lot of new CC related announcements in the form of analytics, reports, AI, and complementary services that range from routing to compliance. There will also be several new entrants making their EC CC debut.

You can find me at EC19 on Monday at the Innovation Showcase, and I’ll be on the closing Locknote panel.

Dave Michels