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Five9 Hire Signals Emerging Strategies for Reaching CX Customers


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Five9 announced today that Steve Blood has joined the company in the newly-created role of VP of market intelligence and evangelism. Blood comes to Five9 from global industry analyst firm Gartner, where his most recent title was VP, Analyst in the sales and customer service practice. To readers of No Jitter, Blood is likely best known as co-author of the contact center and then CCaaS Magic Quadrant for the last two decades.

Blood joins Niki Hall, CMO, Five9’s organization as she continues to attract top talent to her marketing leadership team since re-joining the company in November 2023. Hall returned to Five9 after five years in companies in markets adjacent to Five9’s core CCaaS business. Previously Hall held CMO roles at digital experience analytics company Contentsquare and at marketing automation company, Selligent.

Who Owns Contact Center? No, Customer Experience?

There is a common theme in Mike Burkland, CEO, Five9’s choice of Hall, and her choice of Blood – and the recent work histories of both – that reflect a broader change faced by both vendors and customers of contact center solutions. Departments involved in delivering great customer experience include not just customer support but sales, marketing, information technology, human resources, social media management, mobile app design, and the list goes on. The choice of contact center software is just one element in an enterprise’s customer experience strategy but one that impacts all of the departments detailed above.

While circumstances are conspiring to bring the issue of who owns customer experience software decisions to a head at many companies (more on that below), it is not a new issue, but a broadening one:

  • In a post 10 years ago, The Blurring Line Between CRM and Contact Center Software, I wrote that there was an ”increasing overlap between CRM and contact center solutions – as both use the term customer experience management to define their mission.”
  • Last year, in a video interview with Ragy Thomas, CEO, Sprinklr, we discussed Sprinklr’s journey from social media management to CCaaS market disruptor. That 14-year journey included building social media management, analytics, digital engagement, and CCaaS to fulfill a vision for “unified customer experience management (CXM).” When Sprinklr went public in 2021, they chose the stock symbol CMX.

Thomas’s argument is that all of the components he has built rely on a single unified data layer and AI layer. Some market validation for Sprinklr’s approach came in September 2023 when the company announced that Deutsche Telekom – an existing social media management customer – would purchase 40,000 licenses of CCaaS from Sprinklr.

How AI Complicates CX

As if the problem of defining who owns CX was not complicated enough, AI, and more specifically GenAI, further complicates any attempt to define who owns CX. As Nicolas de Kouchkovsky states in an October 2023 No Jitter post, it’s time to, “consolidate CX data to enable AI as a set of capabilities that can be activated across the entire stack.” He went on to say a goal of CCaaS vendors seems to be to “orchestrate customer experiences across the enterprise.”

During a customer panel at an analyst meeting in 2023, the answer to the question, “Do you plan to use (the CCaaS company’s copilot feature) in the future?” reflected the confusion of enterprises trying to navigate the array of AI messages with which they are bombarded from software vendors of every type, from human resources to supply management. One company intended to compare their CCaaS Gen AI offer to Microsoft Copilot in 2024 and decide which direction to take. While the two things sound similar, the use cases for each solution are widely different: Microsoft Copilot is an “everyday AI Assistant” with use cases in several different departments, and the CCaaS offer is very specific to customer support and experience.

From CCaaS to Customer Experience Platform

In May 2023, CEO Mike Burkland outlined a mission to evolve Five9 from a contact center solution company to one providing an intelligent CX platform. By “intelligent” meant the strategic deployment of different AI technologies, with open connectivity to relevant partner solutions, e.g. workforce engagement management. The path to becoming a CX platform, Burkland said, starts with a CCaaS solution, with the addition of automation and LLM-enabled conversational AI, a data repository, and analytics. All contact center vendors, and increasingly the unified communications vendors leaning-into CCaaS, face similar transformations.

Over email, I asked Blood what specific activities he envisioned tackling in his role as evangelist. “The evangelist role is to help craft the vision for Five9’s role as a CX provider in 2030,” he responded. “Everyone is using the CX term. It’s important that the larger audience beyond customer service technology buyers understands the role Five9 can play,” he continued.

That larger audience that Blood will help build clarifying messages for includes CXOs, IT, human resources, customer service and other executives that have a say in how customer experience will be delivered in the company and how AI and automation will be deployed as part of CX. Burkland and his executive team has laid out a corporate strategy and Blood and the marketing team will operationalize that strategy into marketing messages and campaigns that resonate with customer and prospect leaders.

Note that the challenge to redefine CCaaS in a broader enterprise context is not unique to Five9, but here we have discussed the team they have built to meet it.