Over the last decade, an extraordinary transformation has taken place in an industry which, for decades prior, had seen little change. In the early 2000’s, running a call center through a cloud service was dismissed as impractical. A few years later, it was viewed as “just for the smallest call centers”. But by 2008 many naysayers had eaten their words and the migration was in full swing. Between 2008 and 2012, the cloud market grew by some 224%. By the end of 2013, more than 62% of organizations were using some type of cloud-based contact center solution as part of their operation. (Both data points from DMG.)
The cloud-based contact center market is expected to continue to grow from $4.2 billion last year to $11 billion in 2019. That growth is being fueled by several waves of innovation: a new crop of “cloud first” offerings, and new partnerships between carriers and vendors.
A new crop of “cloud first” offerings
The first generation of cloud-based call centers were built by repurposing traditional premise-based software and turning them into a multi-tenant cloud-served solution. For example, Echopass was built around Genesys, Five9 was built around Avaya.
Interactive Intelligence (InIn) actually built its CaaS cloud offering around its own premise-based offering. That strategy proved to be immensely successful with their CaaS offering achieving 67% CAGR from 2010-2013 (press release).
The next generation of offerings are being built from the ground-up as cloud call centers. For example, InIn has released its PureCloud solution and Aspect has released ZipWire. Other large vendors tackled the cloud through acquisition. Shoretel’s “Sky” offering comes from its 2012 acquisition of M5 and Genesys acquired Angel in 2013.
Below Joe Gagnon, SVP of Aspect, talks about their cloud strategy:
Telco carriers as distributors of hosted call centers
Another trend is the increasing role played by carriers. They’ve been facing pressure to find high margin lines of business as the prices for basic telco services continues to drop, OTT options (Apple’s iMessage, Facebook Messenger, etc) take away lucrative SMS revenue, and regulators clamp down on aggressive consumer contracts. As a result, carriers are looking to “move up the value chain” with business services like PBX, back-up, and call center, all provided as a cloud-service. It’s a natural fit because they already have the proper server infrastructure, plus control over the internet connection.
Some examples are Verizon partnering with InContact and Comcast partnering with Broadsoft. The biggest vote of confidence in the carrier-as-distributor model comes from Avaya, one of the largest players in this game. It’s making a strong bet on its carrier-focused “CCaaS” product which has already been deployed by British Telecom.
Joe Manuele, Avaya’s Vice President of Global Alliances and Cloud said:
…customers can now access Unified Communications and Contact Centre Applications as a Service with BT Wholesale … with the flexibility, scalability and reliability that is synonymous with Avaya … in a more affordable and manageable way.
Avaya Senior Vice President of WorldWide Channels, Richard Steranka, expanded on that a bit during the Avaya Executive Partner Forum 2015 saying, “We look at cloud not as a new product, but a new delivery model.”