The Best Contact Center Infrastructure: The 2021 CRM Industry Leader Awards

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The Market

Research firm MarketsandMarkets projects the global contact center software market, which includes automatic call distribution, call recording, computer-telephony integration, customer collaboration, dialers, interactive voice response, reporting and analytics, and more, to grow from $24.1 billion in 2020 to $75.5 billion in 2026, expanding at a compound annual rate of 20.9 percent.

The COVID-19 pandemic had the most dramatic impact on the market, particularly as a shift to cloud contact center solutions allowed organizations to embrace remote working models and continue business operations despite the lockdowns.

Analysts are seeing a growing use of contact center software by small businesses, which had traditionally relied on manual processes in the past.

The Top Five

Avaya offers several contact center suites, but its two most prominent are Aura and OneCloud contact center-as-a-service (CCaaS). These platforms were already quite sufficient, but Avaya added to them this year. Avaya built in added workflow and AI-powered virtual agent capabilities on its own, but the company also added security capabilities through integrations with Pindrop, Semafone, and PCI Pal; knowledge management through an integration with Verint; and an integration with Salesforce Service Cloud that brings together calls, digital engagement, and CRM data for agents. Independent CRM industry analyst and consultant Marshall Lager sees Avaya as one of the most deeply rooted vendors in the market. “Avaya’s been doing telecommunications for a long time and has the expertise that comes with experience,” he says.

Genesys is a perennial favorite among analysts, call center leaders, and other contact center software vendors alike. In just the past few months, it saw integrations with NovelVox, Awaken, PCI Pal, Avtex, Mindsay, Speechmatics, Deepgram, Daisee, and Adobe. Genesys also continues to build on its product portfolio, and in mid-August it added predictive routing, web messaging, and intent mining to the Genesys Cloud CX platform. “Genesys has an extremely flexible and customizable set of applications, with the services and experience to back it up,” Lager says. But it goes even beyond that. “Genesys’s cloud solutions, ongoing innovation in areas like AI, and rapid deployment have been critical, as many companies transformed to a fully remote contact center in the past 18 months,” says Rebecca Wettemann, principal at Valoir.

NICE CXone has only been around since mid-2017, but from initial launch it was a robust cloud platform. This year alone, though, NICE added real-time interaction guidance, performance analytics, business intelligence, biometrics, advanced analytics, no-code bot development, customer journey optimization, enhanced digital self-service, interaction recording, proactive outreach, and more. It also acquired MindTouch, ContentEngine, and GoMoxie this year to further expand CXone’s capabilities. “NICE CXone has been a solid performer for years, and they continue to push the envelope and not rest on their laurels,” says Sheila McGee-Smith, president and principal analyst at McGee-Smith Analytics. Lager lauds NICE for heavy investment in AI for call routing and triage.

Twilio launched Flex in late 2018 and has been on a roll ever since. In just the past year, it added digital channels for remote workers, cross-channel conversational apps, email response capabilities through an integration with 3Fiftynine’s Repleye, workforce optimization through an integration with Calabrio ONE, and testing capabilities through an integration with Cyara. And when it acquired Segment in October for $3.2 billion, it was the first to merge a customer data platform with contact center technology. “Twilio Flex is a great choice for companies looking to add innovative capabilities,” McGee-Smith says.

Zoom Video Communications is most well known for its digital meeting and collaboration platform, but the company stormed into the contact center market with its mid-July acquisition of Five9 for nearly $15 billion. The deal will result in the intergration of Five9’s CCaaS solutions with Zoom’s communications platform, which industry insiders expect will transform how businesses connect with their customers. Donna Fluss, president of DMG Consulting, sees this as a really good move for Zoom. “It’s a good idea for them to enter the CCaaS market,” she says. The deal, Fluss adds, shows that Zoom “is turning more and more into a full business communications provider.”

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