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Cloud-Based Contact Centers: Bringing Clarity to a Crowded Market
A glut of vendors poses a challenge to buyers
For the rest of the April 2016 issue of CRM magazine please click here
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The cloud-based contact center infrastructure sector is close to 20 years old, but it is still a relatively immature market. Although the sector has been around for a while, it didn't come into its own until 2010, on the heels of the Great Recession. While it's clear that this market is sustainable and will thrive for many years to come, it is expected to undergo a great deal of change over the next five years.

With more than 150 competitors, the cloud-based contact center infrastructure market is over-crowded and confused. Some end users are turning to their carriers for these services. Others are looking to their incumbent on-premises providers, and still others are going to the Web and doing searches to see which vendors turn up. Currently, there is no clear market leader; no single vendor always ranks at the top of the heap in this sector. However, DMG expects this to change in the next few years. Based on market growth and the increasing stability of a few of the cloud-based contact center infrastructure platforms, some of the vendors are maturing enough to become leaders.

LEADERSHIP CRITERIA

There is much more to market leadership than simply the number of customers, implementations, or seats. DMG has developed leadership criteria to assist end users in assessing providers in the cloud-based contact center infrastructure marketplace. DMG proposes that vendors be evaluated in these four areas:

Business leadership. This includes the ability to execute and the completeness of vision. Ability to execute encompasses a company's ability to market, sell, implement, and support its solution. Completeness of vision addresses a company's ability to build and deliver a highly dependable, differentiated, and innovative offering.

Solution. You should be looking for a functionally rich and broad solution that offers a seamlessly integrated application. The solution should easily integrate with third-party on-premises and cloud-based applications.

Platform. A platform must be 100 percent (or nearly so) dependable and reliable, and should include fail-safe disaster recovery and business continuity.

People. These are your vendor's human resources—implementers, project managers, integration specialists, professional services, and support staff, with outstanding and deep business, technical, and domain/vertical expertise.

THE COMPETITORS

The cloud-based contact center infrastructure market continues to be hot—it is perceived to be highly attractive, lucrative, and filled with opportunity. Although this market is growing rapidly, as reflected by a nearly 50 percent increase in seats as compared to the prior year, the opportunity is not large enough to sustain the current crop of 150-plus competitors. The question is, which vendors are best suited to survive and thrive into the future? Regardless of the answer, one thing is certain: All 150 won't make the cut; there will be a shakeout. Below is a high-level review of 11 leading and contending vendors that should be considered when selecting a cloud-based contact center infrastructure solution. (This list includes U.S. and European competitors, although a growing number of these vendors have a presence in other parts of the world.)

3CLogic is a privately held provider of cloud-based contact center services that are hosted on Amazon Web Services' public cloud. 3CLogic Cloud Contact Center is a multichannel solution that supports inbound, outbound, and blended voice, email, SMS, and Web chat. The solution also provides basic CRM capabilities as a standard component. The solution is geared for environments with 50 to 200 seats.

8x8, a public company (NASDAQ: EGHT), is a provider of cloud-based contact center infrastructure solutions, Internet Protocol–private branch exchange (IP-PBX) telephony, and carrier/network services. 8x8's Virtual Contact Center (VCC) supports inbound, outbound, and blended voice, email, chat, and social media. VCC also provides CRM:Lite, a ticket management application, as a standard component of the system. Its sweet spot is contact centers with 2 to 300 concurrent agents.

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To contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com
Every month, CRM magazine covers the customer relationship management industry and beyond. To subscribe, please visit http://www.destinationCRM.com/subscribe/.
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