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What is Verint Open CCaaS?
This week Verint held its annual conference, Engage 2023, in Las Vegas, hosting 1,000+ customers, partners, industry analysts and press from over 20 countries. One of the key announcements was something Verint is calling Open CCaaS.
My post of the Open CCaaS press release on social media earlier this week caused a flurry of activity. The statistics speak for themselves: in just a few days, the post garnered 17,000+ impressions, 115 reactions, 16 comments and 17 reposts on Linkedin.
I believe much of the interest stemmed from a desire to understand the announcement. For example, one commenter asked, “Did Verint launch a competing telephony solution to the likes of Five9, Genesys, and CXOne?” The polarity of the comments ranges from quite positive (“This looks exciting”) to dismissive (“The press release said nothing of substance”). If one of Verint’s goals with the Open CCaaS announcement was to start an industry-wide conversation, it certainly achieved that.
As an industry analyst, I attended a pre-announcement briefing by the executive team, including Dan Bodner, CEO, and Jaime Meritt, chief product officer, Verint, the day before the news was published. Analysts were offered an additional briefing on Open CCaaS during the event by Heather Richards, Vereint's vice president, go-to-market strategy. In addition, I had the opportunity to meet with Bodner one-on-one during Engage 2023. With this context, I am prepared to address some of the issues raised in the comments to my LinkedIn post.
Did Verint Launch a CCaaS solution? This one is easy. Verint has NOT announced that it will offer contact center as a service. One of the key tenets of Verint since its emergence as a pure-play customer engagement company (after the divestiture of the Cognyte security business) has been open interoperability with both premises contact center solutions and CCaaS. In the slide below, Verint notes that they have integrations with over 50 of what they label “telephony vendors.”
The slide, from an industry analyst briefing by Richards, also illustrates the rationale behind the Open CCaaS announcement. In the early days of broad call center system adoption, e.g., from the 1990s into the 2010s, companies began adding call centers to their business by making a communications platform decision. The same vendor’s call center application was often used to avoid duplication of communications infrastructure. Avaya, Nortel, Mitel, Siemens, and Alcatel-Lucent were vendors that sold PBX-integrated call center solutions.
Companies that had significant call center operations, e.g., airlines, hotels, and financial institutions, made standalone automatic call distributor (ACD) choices independent of the PBX. Companies like Rockwell and Aspect manufactured these ACDs, known for their superior communications capacity over PBX-integrated solutions.
With both standalone and PBX-integrated decisions, the communications infrastructure was the first decision companies made and then additional, complementary applications were added. In the early days, additional applications were largely limited to quality and workforce management applications. In the years that have followed, the mindset of choosing the telephony platform that would run the contact center first and treating everything else as an add-on has persisted. Companies often choose a chat or email interaction-handling application because of the ability to integrate with the in-place contact center solution.
Fast forward to the 2020s, and CCaaS companies are evolving their solutions to include most of the elements of a customer service operation that in the past were considered add-on applications. Today this includes digital interactions management, AI, data management and WEM on a single platform. The paradigm of evaluating the voice-handling component of a customer experience solution as the most crucial component of the decision has persisted, for decades.
With Open CCaaS, Verint is hoping to change this traditional narrative. They believe that choosing a vendor with the elements of an Open CCaaS platform, shown in the diagram below, is the most important decision companies should make as they move from premises to the cloud. Verint believes that to support CX automation -- which is what they believe is what companies are looking for -- elements such as an underlying AI platform fed by an open data hub, knowledge management, voice of the customer and analytics, should drive digital transformation decisions.
One might argue that Verint could have used a different name for this new approach to customer experience purchase decisions -- perhaps CX Automation. But by using CCaaS in the name, Verint has started a conversation. Three years ago, I first recall reading about UCaaS becoming commoditized, an insight that continues to accelerate. With its Open CCaaS announcement, I believe Verint is implying that the voice element of CCaaS is becoming a commodity, and that companies should be prioritizing different elements of customer experience solutions.