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Google’s AI Presence Grows in the Contact Center

Led by Google’s announcement that it has integrated Contact Center AI (CCAI) with Salesforce Service Cloud for agent assistance, as detailed in this No Jitter post, the pace of Google-related contact center news associated with this week’s Google Cloud Next ’19 event has been fast and furious. Mitel, as we covered earlier this week, deepened its ties with Google, as have Avaya, Cisco, Genesys, and RingCentral.
While each Google-contact center partnership has its hallmark, the overarching goal for the contact center partners is to leverage the cloud giant’s prowess with artificial intelligence (AI) to better inform agents and optimize the customer experience provided through their solutions. These moves involve the CCAI framework or component pieces.
As a reminder, CCAI comprises three components: Virtual Agent, with Google Dialogflow, for analyzing call intent and routing customers accordingly; Agent Assist, for listening in on conversations between agents and customers and surfacing relevant content in real time; and Conversational Topic Modeling, a contact center analytics tool for identifying topics, keywords, and relevant discussion points.
Among the five contact center providers mentioned above, Cisco, Genesys, and Mitel are original CCAI partners, announced with the program launch last July. But Avaya and RingCentral are no strangers to Google, either, having assorted communications and collaboration-related relationships with the company.
Avaya Evolves with Google
Avaya’s relationship with Google has been evolving since the company tapped Google for a partnership back in late 2014 that put its contact center software on agent Chromebooks. And though not an original partner, today Avaya is participating in Google’s CCAI early access program, while Google Cloud has joined the Avaya A.I.Connect ecosystem.
Avaya is working with Google on several early access clients, including a “very large” proof-of-concept (PoC) test for Virtual Agent/Dialogflow and several other PoCs combining all three CCAI components, an Avaya spokesperson said. Initial PoCs were with Avaya Aura (Contact Center Elite), Experience Portal, and Oceana, he added.
Beyond CCAI, Avaya is now supporting Google Cloud Platform (GCP) as a deployment option for its communications and collaboration portfolio. This comes on top of a variety of other product integrations Avaya has forged with GCP. For example, its OneCloud offering for contact center and UC and its IX Collaboration meeting service both run natively in GCP.
“Avaya’s expanding partnership with Google Cloud promises exciting developments across multiple facets of Avaya’s portfolio,” said Sheila McGee-Smith, president & principal analyst, McGee-Smith Analytics, in a prepared statement. “From a contact center perspective, new AI-driven intelligent conversation experiences will soon be available to customers who chose to remain on premises solutions, those that are transitioning to a hybrid cloud environment and those that choose to fully embrace the cloud.”
Cisco Transforms Customer Care with Google
For Cisco, this week’s Google Cloud Next ’19 event provided an opportunity to showcase ways in which it’s leveraging the CCAI framework to “transform the contact center from delivering reactive care to predictive care, and moving from isolated customer experiences to cohesive and engaging journeys,” as Tod Famous, senior director of product management for the Cisco Customer Contact Business Unit, wrote yesterday in a company blog post.
In particular, Famous pointed to Cisco Answers, a CCAI-powered intelligent agent introduced last month at Enterprise Connect.
In his post, Famous shared the expectations that early adopter Sopra Steria, a European digital transformation consulting firm, has for Cisco Answers in its contact centers. “AI is transforming our business models and enables us to provide our clients with unmatched offerings while reducing total cost of services without compromising on quality. We expect Cisco Answers to be an integral part of our solutions by cutting down search time in half, allowing our agents to be much more effective,” said Jean-Marie Souchu, director of infrastructure management at Sopra Steria, in a prepared statement.
Genesys Expands CCAI to Customer Base
Genesys, too, is showcasing its CCAI solutions at Cloud Next, and is working with customers -- “multiple enterprise-level organizations” -- as part of its CCAI early adopter program, the company announced. Though it didn’t share specific names, it said those companies include a global ridesharing company, a large automobile manufacturer, and a Fortune 500 department store. Calling CCAI a “game-changer for the industry,” Paul Lasserre, VP of product management for AI at Genesys, said in a prepared statement that customers have already identified hundreds of use cases across marketing, sales, and services organizations.
But, as noted in its press release, the AI enhancements aren’t only for large enterprises. Beginning this quarter, companies using the Genesys PureEngage, PureConnect, and PureCloud platforms can incorporate the CCAI capabilities in their deployments, the company announced. Small, medium, and large enterprises across cloud and on-premises deployments will be able to take advantage of AI within their contact centers, it said.
RingCentral ‘Engages’ AI for Experience
For its part, while not a CCAI partner, RingCentral has announced that it’s integrating its Engage Digital customer engagement platform with Dialogflow, which incorporates Google’s AI expertise for building conversational interfaces and supports speech-to-text and other such capabilities. Introduced last November, the Engage Digital customer engagement platform is built on the Dimelo technology RingCentral acquired in October 2018.
AI is central to Engage Digital, John Finch, AVP, product marketing at RingCentral, told me in an email interview. “AI provides smart routing to agents, taking an incoming message and then classifying it by language, intent, sentiment, and skills to get it to the right agent to solve.”
The beta version of Digital Engage, along with the Dialogflow integration, is available now, with general availability expected in the third quarter of 2019.
Darryl Hoover, CTO with Direct Travel, said he believes the Engage Digital and Dialogflow combo will be instrumental for the company “in providing timely and effective customer service to our rapidly growing customer base.”