2017 was arguably the biggest and best year ever at Enterprise Connect 2017 for those who care about contact centers. And I ought to know. For ten years, I have attended virtually every contact center session held at the show, the past few years as the Contact Center Track Chair.
So, what were the contact center themes this year? Cloud, cloud and more cloud. Many of the sessions in the contact center track explicitly addressed cloud applications. Other sessions dealt with next-gen capabilities that are often implemented using a cloud deployment model.
- Market Report and Executive Forum: How Cloud is Changing the Contact Center Market This opening double-session of the contact center track focused on how the topic of customer journey is being replaced by discussion of digital transformation. In 2017, it became increasingly clear that tracking a customer’s journey needs to be part of a broader corporate imperative to coordinate marketing, selling, service and customer care. As each of these business functions reinvent themselves for a digital world, the impact of technologies like analytics, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things will be felt across all of these processes.
- Is Cloud Contact Center the New Normal? In this session, VP Segment & Product Marketing for inContact Chris Bauserman joined executives from Cisco, Genesys, Serenova and eLoyalty to “debate” this topic. I put quotations around debate because it seemed to me that the overwhelming answer to the question by all the participants was YES. Even the execs from Cisco and Genesys, when asked to talk about a recent customer win, highlighted customers who had moved from premises-based systems to the cloud.
- Case Studies: Contact Center Strategies for Skype for Business Deployments Representatives of two companies that have deployed contact centers that integrate with Skype for Business, from HarborOne Bank and 7-Eleven, joined me to discuss their implementations. Both were using premises-based systems today, by as Microsoft continues to add features to its cloud-based Skype for Business offers, I expect to see solutions from cloud contact center partners like inContact and its Connector solution will be deployed more often in the market.
- Contact Centers 2020: This session was part of a special conference-within-a-conference called Communications & Collaboration 2020. History has shown that contact centers are usually at the leading edge of innovation for communications technology, thanks to their promise of measurable ROI and the continual need to stay competitive in how you interact with your customers. There’s every reason to believe that this reality will continue through 2020 and beyond.
451 Research industry analyst Sheryl Kingstone joined me as we discussed some of what is bleeding-edge in contact centers today but destined to be de rigueur by 2020. One of the panelists, from inContact partner Zendesk, discussed a new-age delivery company – Favor – whose most popular support channel is SMS.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention arguably the biggest announcement at Enterprise Connect this year show, Amazon Connect, the company’s new contact center as a service. In late 2016, the CEOs of NICE and inContact discussed how the two are building a combined next-generation portfolio in the AWS public cloud. It seems the AWS cloud is becoming a new-age version of the carrier network – lots of competing applications will ride on it.