A New Era of Contact Center Software
Software, by its very nature, is constraining. Typically, when a company creates a new software product, product and engineering teams make decisions every day for the next few years that customers can’t change in the future. That’s how software works today. But what happens if a customer disagrees with a decision those product managers made? What if they want a feature that doesn't exist? They have to wait for the vendor to add it, find a different vendor, or find a workaround.
On the flip side, you have the API building block approach. Unconstrained by a vendor’s roadmap, developers can become immensely creative. Give APIs to developers and they can build anything. However, to build anything at the enterprise level, you need an incredible amount of domain expertise, knowledge, and attention to design. Yeah, you can build anything, but it can be complex -- especially when it comes to building a contact center.
Another way is emerging. A new way of building software is coming to the cloud communications market: software that comes pre-assembled, but still allows you to break it down and change it in any way that you want. This new approach is the application platform.
The Current Approach Is Broken
This has been the long-standing industry challenge: How do we build software that you can instantly deploy and quickly change, but also gives innovative companies of the largest scale the level of customization that they need?
In the contact center space, for businesses to architect a better customer journey, they need to integrate more data. To create a superior customer experience, they need a better interface for their agents and supervisors. The more complex an organization is, the more important it becomes for them to integrate their contact center into their business processes and proprietary backend databases, and customize it to meet their specific needs.
Current approaches to cloud contact centers typically don’t offer the level of customization that these large organizations need. That’s why it’s been so hard for large enterprises to migrate to the cloud.
If you bludgeon a premises-based contact center into submission with enough time and professional services, you can customize it to a large degree. However, on-premises customization isn’t only hugely expensive, it’s also time-consuming.
Creating the right customer experience requires experimentation, and to truly experiment, you need to be able to try things quickly. You can’t afford to spend nine months of professional services just to do an A test, another nine months to do a B test, only to decide that both of those were actually bad ideas. Having a platform that allows you to move fast is key to innovation.
Moving Beyond Build vs. Buy
The next evolution of enterprise software moves the contact center beyond the build vs. buy decision. An application platform is not a SaaS application nor is it a platform of APIs. This is a fundamentally different approach. You may be wondering, "Is it an application or a platform?" And the answer is, “Yes.” It’s both. It is build and buy. It’s a “build” solution for builders and a “buy” option for those who want to deploy a contact center out of the box.
An application platform deploys like SaaS and integrates like a premises-based system (without the professional services dollars) into your proprietary back-end databases and CRMs. And it iterates like a Web platform. Unlike premises-based systems, it lets you move extremely fast. You can put agents into pilot groups and do A/B testing, and they’re able to move much faster than they've ever been able to before. And it does all of that with an architecture that enables you to control the exact experience that you want.
We’re increasingly seeing that the old “take it or leave it” contact center vendor approach doesn’t work. The application platform builds on the API philosophy, which opens the possibilities for contact centers to customize a platform to their specific business needs. And it allows you to move and experiment quickly, without sacrificing customizability.
As the industry evolves I invite you to explore how this new generation of software is already taking shape today and dive into how the application platform is emerging to change the contact center.