I just returned from Dallas where I mingled with new and old friends at ICMI’s Contact Center Demo & Conference. I relish interacting with contact center professionals during the half-day and one-hour seminars that I teach. And, of course, I like to check out the latest vendor offerings.
My sessions on technology selection and implementation captured the interest of many in the throes of the evaluation and procurement process. A number of factors create a “need for speed” – end of life (or support), organizational changes, growth, and poor performance of current solutions. We’ve already seen great interest in cloud solutions in our client work, but it is not for everyone. And among those who opt for the cloud, the approach varies (e.g., multi-tenant versus single-tenant). Our tools, processes, and experience help people determine the right sourcing strategy and the right vendor for their distinct needs.
While omni-channel remained a hot topic, the attendees in my sessions acknowledged the realities of taming this particular beast. YES – it’s hard! They expressed their desire for greater automation and integration, but recognized the challenge of increased collaboration with their organizational counterparts who own some of the channels (e.g., mobile, web). And, of course, every time you add a new channel, you’ve still got to provide support for all of the existing ones, which adds to the complexity (and volume!). I heard strong interest in text/SMS but differing views on video.
Security considerations are top of mind for many. Companies are keenly interested in how technology can aid their fraud prevention efforts. We discussed ways to enhance the identification and verification (ID&V) process while minimizing the burden associated with customer authentication. Not an easy task!
Of course, the demo floor was full of interesting vendors and solutions. My biggest “take aways” from my whirlwind booth tour:
Gamification may be coming into its own. Really cool solutions at affordable prices seem like they could transform how we look at performance management and address some age-old problems in the process. In other words: Working in a center could get way more fun and rewarding!
Everybody pretty much has to have a cloud story, whether they are a new/disruptive force or a long-time player trying to offer new options. The disrupters build from scratch yet take different approaches. For example, one created a “gamified contact center” solution. Another offers omni-channel but does so through integration with CRM for handling email and chat rather than offering all channels themselves. Taking their lead from the disrupters, some long-time players are also creating new solutions, leading to different offerings for premise and the cloud.
There are still quite a few niche vendors to support specific channels and workforce optimization tools. So as much as people like the idea of suites and “one neck to choke,” the best of breed or point solutions still seem to be flourishing.
As a final note, we’re seeing lots of vendor mergers and acquisitions, along with evolution of their implementation and support partners (a.k.a. “VARs”). It makes for an interesting, albeit complex, market. So if you happen to count yourself among those with a “need for speed,” approach with caution! Make sure you add a healthy dose of due diligence in pre-qualifying and evaluating vendors. You don’t want to leap out of one set of problems straight into another!
Contact us. We can help!