The Best Contact Center Infrastructure: The 2020 CRM Industry Leader Awards

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The Market

DMG Consulting reports that the cloud has quickly become the preferred delivery model for contact center solutions. It expects the number of cloud-based contact center seats to increase by 23 percent this year, by 21 percent in 2021 and 2022, and by 20 percent in 2023.

Cloud-based offerings have reached functional parity with their on-premises counterparts, with vastly improved user interfaces, agent desktops, enhanced routing capabilities, new key performance indicators, and better analytics and reporting. Vendors are offering out-of-the-box interfaces to make it easier to integrate cloud-based solutions with all types of contact center applications. They have also started to push a digital-first agenda by delivering omnichannel solutions with a heavy focus on artificial intelligence as a foundational layer, DMG concludes.

The Top Five

Cisco has been a dominant player in the contact center infrastructure space for many years, and this year was no different. The company greatly added to its products and acquired CloudCherry a year ago to facilitate its expansion into analytics. “Cisco leads the pack. They have the history, the knowledge, the innovation, and the resources to dominate this category today and in the future,” says Paul Stockford, chief analyst at Saddletree Research. Sheila McGee-Smith, president and principal analyst at McGee-Smith Analytics, says Cisco was slow to enter the cloud market, but that hasn’t hurt the company much. “Its 3 million agent seat installed base still looks to Cisco for its next-generation solution,” she says. “And with a new contact center general manager, Omar Tawakol, Cisco has the most solid road map and migration plan ever.”

As its name suggests, Five9 is all about reliability, and it doesn’t fail to deliver. “Five9 has always been a no-nonsense provider of quality contact center technology, striving to live up to the promise of reliability inherent in its name,” independent CRM analyst and consultant Marshall Lager says. Donna Fluss, president of DMG Consulting, points out that Five9’s native outbound dialing “is very strong” and also hails the company for giving customers “lots of options and pricing levels.” Strategic moves this year also position Five9 well for the future, according to McGee-Smith. These included the hiring of Anand Chandrasekaran as executive vice president of product management and its acquisitions of Virtual Observer and Whendu. “Five9 has been a solid performer for the past few years and upped their game in 2019 and 2020,” she says.

A central foundation of Genesys’s contact center infrastructure has been the technology it gained in 2016 with the acquisition of Interactive Intelligence, and those technologies take three forms—Genesys Engage, Genesys Cloud, and Genesys PureConnect, each of which is “equally suited for recognition,” according to Lager. “Each is highly flexible, solidly built, and addresses a number of critical issues in one package,” he says. Rebecca Wettemann, CEO and principal of Valoir, calls Genesys “the leader with rapid cloud deployments and broad and deep capabilities.”

NICE InContact launched its CXone contact center suite in 2017 and has added to it consistently through organic growth and a robust partner network. “NICE is proving that outside-the-box thinking pays off with contact center automation. They’ve been ahead of the curve since the beginning and are still thought leaders,” Stockford argues. Fluss agrees, naming its products “the most feature-rich.” For Lager, it comes down to choice: NICE, he says, “provides a complete set of tools for setting up and managing a contact center in whole or in part. They can just as easily provide discrete functionality to fill particular gaps in your stack.”

Fluss calls Twilio “a market disruptor with their platform and API paradigm,” and notes that its Flex contact center platform is “the fastest to put up.” Lager also notes that Twilio has had “considerable success” integrating new social media channels into its Flex platform, but highlights another plus for the company: “Twilio places a lot of weight on the outbound component of the contact center business, for sales and marketing, so potential buyers should consider that in their planning,” he adds.

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