2018 was a big year for the contact center industry. Major product launches, intriguing acquisitions, new entrants, re-emerging giants. Added to the mix were the frustrating dalliance with AI, the quasi-melding with CRM, the embrace of chatbots, and the rise of RPA. All juicy topics worth exploring.
We’re going to dive into all of the above on our blog this year, along with our usual coverage of industry reports, public company earnings, fun posts about call center life, findings from our sister site OnHoldWith.com, webinars, hangouts, Fonolo news (of course), and more.
Buckle up for an exciting year ahead!
Some themes that are rattling in my head for the coming year:
Voice: A Love-Hate Relationship
It’s weird how we’re running towards voice when it comes to person-to-device: “Everyone has a smart speaker!” “Voice-first is the future!”
But we’re running away from voice when it comes to person-to-person: “No wants to make phone calls!” “Chat is the future”!
Does this say something about human nature? (I’m reminded of “Hell is other people,” a line from Sartre in his famous play No Exit.) Or, is this like hemlines going up because they went down last season (i.e. novelty bias)?
Twilio vs. Vonage
Is Twilio’s lead in CPaaS unsurmountable? The only challenge I see is from Vonage. With their New Voice Media acquisition, combined with Nexmo and Tokbox, Vonage has assembled a powerful toolbox. This is a great story to follow because the two companies are so different – Twilio, the freshly IPO’d Silicon Valley darling, vs. Vonage, which is on its third incarnation (first a consumer-VoIP company, then a UC play, and now an enterprise communication roll up).
Chat, Messaging and Text
This is a topic we’ve tackled a bunch of times, including our most recent hangout. Yet, the discussion still seems unfinished. Does it really make sense to distinguish between chat (which is an “owned” channel and lives on your site) and messaging (which is done via a third party platform)? They seem so close to each other in function, yet they are separate worlds in some ways.
On a related note, I wonder: Will all the blow-back against “Big Tech” hamper the growth in messaging? It’s reasonable that companies will be more reluctant to invest in Facebook Messenger as a customer service channel. Apple Business Chat is moving slow as molasses. Meanwhile, good ‘ole SMS continues to dominate, at least in North America. Is Google going to make RCS relevant as an SMS alternative?
The term “AI”: Less Promiscuous in 2019?
We certainly can’t get any more promiscuous with that term! Look at this article where a Microsoft VP is calling “time to leave” notifications an example of AI in Outlook. Or, here is a report from MIT Technology Review that seems to conflate “AI” with any kind of automation. The headline claims “90% of Companies Deploy Artificial Intelligence in the Customer Journey”. Does anyone believe that 90% of companies have any kind of legitimate AI in their customer journey? No one wins when we get this sloppy with language.
So many questions, and so much to watch in 2019.
Did you miss our year-end video (“Fonolo Reads Mean Tweets”) and its light-hearted parody of The Grinch? If so, now’s a good time to watch!