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Amazon Connect & Enterprise Connect: Inextricably Linked
As an industry analyst, I have been following the contact center market full time for the past 30 years. I have watched the companies that are now considered contact center leaders as they began their foray into customer care. Over the decades, these companies have dealt with technology shifts — from analog switching to digital, then to SIP, and finally to cloud. At each technology junction, new companies entered the market, looking to displace the incumbents.
It follows that I watched the announcement of Amazon Connect at the Enterprise Connect conference in 2017 with enormous interest. AWS’s entry into the market elevated the conversation about contact center across the conference. In the Enterprise Connect conferences that followed in 2018 and 2019, Amazon Connect announcements continued to be widely discussed, as the success of the solution grew.
As I reflect on the news that AWS made earlier this month at the Enterprise Connect Digital Conference & Expo, I have a strong sense that Amazon Connect is poised to make huge waves in not just the contact center market, but more generally, customer care. Two AWS conference sessions, another by partner Salesforce, and the announcement of the purchase of a major Amazon Connect partner, VoiceFoundry, combined to make this the most significant Enterprise Connect for Amazon Connect since its launch.
In this session, Eron Kelly, general manager, Enterprise Services Marketing, at AWS, explained the paradigm of react, return, and reimagine to explain the ways AWS has been working with companies since the pandemic to keep their businesses running, their employees productive, and their customers supported.
Scott R. Brown, director of productivity sales at AWS, joined Kelly to describe how Amazon Connect has been important in helping companies reimagine customer care. He highlighted Amazon Connect’s ability to scale up and down through unexpected surges and to automate call and chat for handling increased volume, as well as its pay-only-as-needed model, as being ideal for quick response to the pandemic. With their new solution, the thousands of companies that created Amazon Connect contact centers in 2020 will be able to continue to innovate beyond pandemic requirements.
Announced at re:Invent in December 2019, Contact Lens, a machine learning-powered analytics solution integrated into Amazon Connect, became generally available on July 23. With the Enterprise Connect Virtual event shortly thereafter, the timing was perfect for a deep dive on Contact Lens. Delivered by AWS’s Atul Deo, principal product manager, and Yasser El-Haggan, head of world-wide specialist solutions architects, the session also included a demonstration and examples of two early Contact Lens customers: Intuit and healthcare company Accolade.
As described during the session, Intuit has already used Contact Lens to gather insights from over 200 million minutes of customer interactions. As a financial services firm, the ease of redacting sensitive data such as Social Security or credit card numbers is of particular value to Inuit.
Service Cloud Voice
In an Enterprise Connect Virtual session titled “Deliver Faster and Smarter Phone Service from Anywhere,” Salesforce product marketing and product management team members described Service Cloud Voice, introduced at Salesforce Dreamforce in November 2019. This voice channel natively integrates Amazon Connect with Salesforce Service Cloud.
For me, the highlight of the session was an interview with Sanjeev Balakrishnan, vice president for support at Salesforce. Over seven years ago, Salesforce made its first move from a premises-based to a cloud contact center solution. As are many companies that deployed first-generation cloud contact centers, Salesforce has realized that “the tool was pretty outdated. The user interface was not very intuitive, and the call quality was very poor,” Balakrishman described. With Amazon Connect plus Salesforce Service Cloud in place, Balakrishnan explained that Salesforce was able to transition 2,800 support personnel in 30 countries to work from home in just 16 days. (Click here for more information on the Salesforce-Amazon Connect integration.)
TTEC Acquires VoiceFoundry
While not specifically related to Enterprise Connect Virtual, on the last day of the conference business process outsourcer (BPO) TTEC announced plans to acquire contact center systems integrator VoiceFoundry. VoiceFoundry describes itself as “experts in delivering amazing customer experiences with Amazon Connect.” Since becoming an Amazon Connect partner, VoiceFoundry has worked to move several companies and organizations from premises contact centers to Amazon Connect, including the Red Cross and carsales.com.au, Australia’s largest online automotive marketplace. It is not difficult to imagine how useful VoiceFoundry’s team will be to a BPO needing to spin up and manage numerous customer contact centers.
As Contact Center track chair for Enterprise Connect, I am proud that AWS chose the conference as the place to launch the Amazon Connect solution and to continue to educate the market on enhancements. Till next year!