Microsoft’s contact center takes on AWS and Google Cloud, armed with partners

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With an eye on the growth of the contact center as a service (CCaaS) market – which is driven by the efforts of companies to offer better customer service and experience — Microsoft launched a new all-in-one cloud-based offering to take on hyperscalers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud, as well as other rivals such as Oracle, SAP and ServiceNow.

Called Digital Contact Center, the new offering combines artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities with existing Microsoft services and products, including Dynamics 365, Teams, Power Platform and Nuance, said Charles Lamanna, vice president of business applications and portfolio of low-code platforms at Microsoft. .

The new service was launched at Microsoft’s annual Inspire conference. The idea behind the new contact center service is to provide omnichannel engagement, self-service, intent prediction, biometric authentication and customer analytics to enable businesses to deliver personalized services that, ultimately can drive revenue growth, Lamanna said.

AI capabilities allow the service to detect the intent behind a customer call, connecting the customer to the agent best suited to handle the issue at hand.

Other features, according to Lamanna, include knowledge article recommendations for agents during a call, to help solve a particular issue, and smart case swarming, a feature that allows agents to view the case history and help them connect with experts if needed. be.

The digital contact center allows agents to interact with customers across multiple channels (voice, video, chat) at the same time and perform biometric authentication, Microsoft said, adding that it also allows companies to design chatbots to handle repetitive and complex tasks.

Additionally, Microsoft’s new offering includes a module called ContextIQ, which is designed to perform sentiment analysis and suggest next best responses to agents during a call. This capability also helps create a learning loop for automated applications, such as chatbots, to become smarter.

Microsoft has partnered with companies such as Accenture, Avanade, Genesys and HCL to make the new offering interoperable and compatible with other existing contact center systems, he said. Systems integrators such as EY, TCS, KPMG and PwC will also help companies integrate the new digital contact center, Microsoft said.

Unify CCaaS and UCaaS

Microsoft may be late to the CCaaS party, but the vendor is stepping forward by essentially folding its unified communications as a service (UCaaS) product, Teams, into the new CCaaS platform, with Dynamics Customer 365 , said Liz Miller. , principal analyst at Constellation Research.

Dynamics Customer 365, which will continue to be sold, is Microsoft’s existing customer service module, which resides in Dynamics 365 ERP after.

“The new digital contact center takes the foundation of service offering in Dynamics Customer 365 and integrates Teams, Nuance, and cloud scale and availability,” Miller said.

The Unity Movement UCaaS and CCaaS is all the rage as the growing use of UCaaS tools has forced customer support operations to become increasingly dependent on cloud communications to meet customer needs, Miller said.

“The announcement comes at a time when buyers of CCaaS solutions are desperate for the easy button,” Miller said.

“These are buyers tasked with transforming the contact center from an operational cost center that unintentionally delivers negative customer experiences into an opportunity for revenue growth through the delivery of exceptional experiences.”

Microsoft faces competition in the CCaaS market

While the new CCaaS offering seems like a logical extension of Microsoft’s existing product portfolio and puts the company in the market for end-to-end customer service providers at a time when one-stop-shop solutions are in demand, competition will be rough, said Vasupradha Srinivasan, senior analyst at Forrester.

“The new product will face fierce competition as it competes against players who have years of contact center and customer service expertise,” Srinivasan said, adding that there is a business segment of the subcontracted intermediate market which could become a strategic point. for the new product, especially if Microsoft wants to combine it with a Dynamics or Azure enterprise purchase.

The global CCaaS market is growing and is expected to reach $15.07 billion in 2029, which would represent a compound annual growth rate of 17.5% from $4.87 billion in 2022, according to Fortune Business Insights.

Microsoft’s rivals in the market are not left out. In June, for example, Amazon Web Services (AWS) added a new case management feature, dubbed Amazon caseto its Amazon Connect cloud-based contact center service.

In March, Google Cloud tweaked its contact center AI (CCIC) service to give it the ability to integrate with RCMP (customer relationship management) to provide businesses with real-time insights and data analytics.

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