AI, CPaaS and Analytics – a Recap of Enterprise Connect & PACE ACX
I recently had the opportunity to attend two major industry events, Enterprise Connect and PACE ACX ’19. I thoroughly enjoy these opportunities to connect with old friends, meet new contacts and learn about the latest advancements in the industry I love.
Enterprise Connect – Orlando, FL
Formerly the VOIP show, Enterprise Connect is UCaaS’s and collaboration services biggest show of the year. CCaaS and contact center technology in general continue to push into the show and expand what was already a crowded room into an even bigger event.
You all know that I am a contact center and customer experience guy, so my focus was understandably on the contact center side of the show, and the trends I observed don’t vary much from what we discovered at the January CCW show in Nashville.
AI is still a hot topic. This continues to be the main focal point for a lot of vendors looking to differentiate themselves. I am a strong proponent for AI and ML in our vertical, but I don’t think the industry is doing a very good job at really defining it for the market. It reminds me of when Business Intelligence was getting rolling, and many vendors started referring to their basic reporting tools as BI platforms. I see this mirrored in the AI space, as companies frequently refer to basic automated responses and actions as artificial intelligence, muddying the waters about what it really means to deploy and effectively utilize AI in a call center setting.
CPaaS is here to stay. Now, the established players don’t appear to be going anywhere…just look at Twillio’s valuation. But there is a segment of the market that will always look to build their own custom solutions. I see custom-built platforms all the time, from CRM systems to full contact center solutions. I am still curiously observing this trend, because coming from the contact center technology space I know how deep and wide products are. Still, there will always be a demand for out of the box solutions which makes me wonder when will the CPaaS players start bringing out full blown solutions for those that wish to buy that way.
On a similar topic, if you ask AWS Connect they would likely not put themselves into that category, but I would say it almost has to be considered a CPaaS platform. In every conversation with actual deployments a lot of development has had to be done in order to use Amazon Connect effectively.
There are handfuls of companies created and growing who are partners of AWS and are now certified and making their own offerings either as a custom development shop or starting to build out wrappers powered by AWS Connect. This new segment of companies is giving customers a whole new set of options to select from.
PACE ACX ’19 – San Antonio, TX
Pace has done a lot over the last few years to really improve their focus on content and speakers that drive more ROI for the contact center space. The new board members have really re-invigorated the audience, causing former members to return and new members to sign up.
I was honored to speak at this year’s PACE event, sitting on a panel with some of the brightest minds in customer experience. Mai Le from Uber and Cary Cusumano from Verizon joined me to discuss analytics and the impact on omni-channel with our moderator Christa Heibel from CHCG. (Yes, when given the opportunity to share a stage with such brilliant minds, you name drop!) If you missed the session, we are working on a way to bring that discussion to the market digitally…more to come soon.
As our session focused on analytics, many of the discussions I had with partners and end users focused on that topic. But once again, artificial intelligence was the dominant topic of conversation. We are just scratching the surface in this area, so I often find myself wondering what these discussions will look like in a few years.
Pace is a much more intimate event than Enterprise Connect, but I really found the sessions and the events around PACE to be on par with what EC offers. For the cost, I don’t know of a better event to meet, learn and network within the contact center space.
Both shows are worth the trip. I am comfortable recommending either one, depending on what you are looking to gain from an event.
AI and data are not losing any ground in the conversations in the market. We are all actively pursing our goals with a focus on the customer, which is how it should be. AI and new channels of communication are pushing us forwards and the contact center technology space has never been this competitive.
As a recent customer told me, if you look at the tech landscape you can almost become like a kid in a candy store. I couldn’t agree more, but it’s important to stay focused on the fundamentals of what we do amidst all of today’s bells and whistles.
We also still have a long way to go as a market though because we are still seeing 70% of the market being on premise.
Finally, there was a question posed toward the end of my panel by one of our audience members at PACE, and I want to put it out to our readers:
What are the KPIs we will be measuring in the future?
My response at the time was that it will be around measuring effortless journey, but this thoughtful question has remained in my head since the event as I continue to consider all of the possibilities – some of which may not even be on our radars yet.
I suggest establishing a standard KPI for “no contact satisfaction,” NCSat for short. This would be the measurement of not just those who find an answer via self-service – containment or deflection depending on how your report on it – but those people who give that answer a score, and also score on NPS. The goal being to identify who used self-service to a satisfactory level, and then measure the NPS and CSAT of those people against those who scored it low. I’d be willing to bet there is a significant correlation.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Email me your insights and I will happily publish them in a future article. I will also post this via social media and other methods because I think it is a critical question.