Updated: Jan 12, 2020
Toward 2020: Deeper into the Cloud
Genesys, the private software company and customer experience (CX) platform supplier, held its annual analyst summit at Ashford Castle in Galway, Ireland this week. Although I wasn’t able to attend in person, Twitter allowed me to peer through the mist into proceedings.
Many contact center systems companies have been acquiring cloud assets over the past decade, and Genesys is no exception, having picked up the likes of Angel, Soundbite, Utopy, and Echopass in 2013 alone. But it’s been a particularly exciting time for the company since it’s acquisition of Interactive Intelligence just over three years ago, which I wrote about at the time here.
Clearly, building on PureCloud was at the center of that strategic move, a means to achieve continuous flexibility and innovation. Genesys integrated the methodologies and architecture behind PureCloud, advancing a microservices architecture (features and applications that can be deployed across all three of its platforms and tailored to specific customer segments). Most components in its stack are available in the cloud, whether the customer chooses cloud, on-premise, or hybrid deployments.
PureCloud, deployed on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and now available on the AWS marketplace, is a cloud-only customer engagement offering for the mid-market and enterprise customer. The aim is a unified, all-in-one cloud customer engagement and employee collaboration solution that is easy to use and quick to deploy, with a modern user experience offered on a platform geared for innovation. At the heart of PureCloud are microservices that power all communications channels, that allow the rapid integration of new technologies.
In effect, Genesys’ Cloud First initiative allows for more flexible usage and licensing models such that client companies can burst capacity and shift agent seat licenses depending on whatever communication channels are needed. It’s based on a cloud-native methodology that takes advantage of independently managed microservices to achieve true cloud resiliency. The design of the cloud system allows for automatic recovery from any subsystem breakdown such that organizations experience no downtime.
Unsurprisingly, many companies aim to maximize the investment in their legacy infrastructure before migrating to the cloud. After all, although Genesys’ cloud solution provides comprehensive security and compliance to go along with unlimited scalability, some client companies remain attuned to their own specific security-related issues (in some cases choosing to keep call recordings on-premise, for example).
In 2018, Genesys’ PureEngage premise-based enterprise platform was architected using a microservices and DevOps approach. It’s targeted at the multi-location, tech-knowledgeable enterprise segment and is now available for both on-premise and cloud deployments. If needed, it can be deployed on public or private clouds and comes with open APIs enabling full customization. The company spent last year developing new features and functionalities by the hundreds, and in 2019, turned its focus to AI-powered capabilities across omnichannel routing, scheduling, forecasting, virtual assistants, and self-service through voice bots and chatbots. The goal is to provide omnichannel experiences featuring contextual journeys in real-time and orchestrated routing that contribute to digital transformation at scale.
Meantime, the company’s PureConnect solution for mid to large-sized organizations with a need for a cost-effective solution that is fast to deploy and easy to run, enables such organizations to migrate between on-premise and private cloud deployment models. It is an all-in-one, multichannel customer engagement offering. All the while, common microservices behind chatbots/voicebots, interaction analytics, and predictive engagement enable those client companies that choose to remain on-premise access to new capabilities in the cloud as needed.
The customer engagement platforms are also vendor-neutral and can fit into multivendor environments. And because connecting data between different technology vendors and systems is so important when it comes to enabling fully contextual customer interactions, Genesys also just announced it is a founding member in the Cloud Information Model (CIM). The CIM provides common standards and source code such that companies can connect data across multiple cloud platforms and disparate systems, enabling full interoperability and data exchange between the partners’ applications and platforms. The hyper-personalization that CIM will help enable aims to optimize the customer journey. Any company can join the CIM, whether vendors or their customers.
Out of the Foggy Dew: Improving Customer & Employee Journeys with AI
One thing seems clear – together, the cloud and AI are helping spur innovation in the contact center. One year ago, in December, 2018, I was able to attend the Genesys Analyst Summit in Yountville, California, where Chief Strategy Officer Peter Graf talked about the concept of moving from omnichannel journey management to AI-powered journey optimization. It was an intriguing hook. Now, with the Genesys winter 2019 release, the company is applying technology from its AltoCloud acquisition to further invigorate customer journey mapping and predictive routing though machine learning and predictive analytics. And it has developed an agent-assisting bot that can be active as well as put on “snooze mode,” awakened when necessary by keywords.
In other words, the Genesys AI engine is designed around the concept of “Blended AI,” the fusion of AI and human beings in the contact center. As Chief Data Scientist in the AI Group Maciej Dabrowski put it this week at the analyst summit in Ireland:
“We have gone through AI winter and now it is AI spring” (credit: Sheila McGee-Smith tweet).
Wonderfully put. Exponential change is all abloom.
In fact, new intelligence is now flowering in a host of customer environments, bursting through the ice of old models. Applications include virtual assistants, predictive routing, process automation, voice biometrics, assisted and unassisted robotic process automation (RPA), and automated forecasting and QA. One suspects that more efficient, increasingly productive, highly personalized customer and employee journeys are emerging from the cold and foggy dew of past models all across the contact center landscape.
At a key point in his long poem, “Station Island,” Irish poet Seamus Heaney wrote that, “The shower broke in a cloudburst, the tarmac/ fumed and sizzled.” Heaney himself said that he wrote the poem because, “I needed to butt my way through a blockage, a pile-up of hampering stuff… to release an inner pressure.”
So one might wonder – to what extent will the cloud and AI together help bring the warm rains of innovation to all the “hampering stuff” of monolithic platforms, of the legacy call center as we’ve too long known it?
Regardless, it seems Ancient Eire was an excellent setting from which to suggest to contact center analysts there’s a new world emerging from the old, a kind of sizzling hyper-personalization, or what Genesys CEO Tony Bates called this week, “Experience as a Service.”