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NICE Acquires Brand Embassy
NICE announced today that it has acquired Brand Embassy, a company based in Prague that’s the brainchild of two young Czech entrepreneurs who in 2011 identified a market opportunity in the disconnection between social media and customer service.
Today, Brand Embassy’s 43 employees, including 17 in research and development, deliver an omnichannel cloud-based customer service platform providing integrated social media, messaging, live chat, and AI-powered chatbot service.
Last September I wrote that Twilio had acquired Ytica, also headquartered in Prague. Like Ytica, Brand Embassy was not only born in the cloud, it was built on microservices, in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud. From there, the stories of the two companies diverge.
Brand Embassy, while young, is a more mature company than Ytica was at acquisition. The company signed its first customer, Telefonica O2, in 2011. NICE inContact reports that Brand Embassy now has approximately 80 customers and its software is in use by 1,400+ named agents. O2 remains an enthusiastic user, and additional customers include Vodafone, Allianz, T-Mobile, and ING.
Note that “enthusiastic user” is my term, not one co-opted from NICE inContact. I use it because I’ve read the 20-page case study eBook on the Brand Embassy site, developed after O2 had been on the platform for five years. O2 reports that it saw immediate results from the platform related to three hard key performance indicators (KPIs), shown in the graph below. The eBook details that the same core team of seven agents handled the 300% increase in volume (as of 2016).
Brand Embassy will become part of the NICE inContact organization within NICE, managed by its executive team. I discussed NICE’s plans for this new asset in a pre-briefing call with NICE inContact CEO Paul Jarman and CMO Randy Littleson. Brand Embassy has been a CXexchange partner since January 2018, Littleson said. He provided highlights on one joint customer, Swedish Rail, which is responding to 94% of all digital messages, even the ones that don’t ask for a reply.
Looking back at the customer and agent numbers for Brand Embassy, we see that the average customer has between 15 to 20 agents running on the digital platform. So, while Brand Embassy unites all the digital channels, voice remains a silo for its customers. Likewise, NICE inContact has offered various packages to customers, but each had to include the voice channel.
The integration of Brand Embassy into the CXone platform will allow NICE inContact to take a digital-first approach for the first time. Jarman explained that company will package the 30+ channels offered by Brand Embassy in a way that de-couples voice from the digital channels. As an integral part of CXone, the digital channels will be supported by the additional elements of the platform, including workforce optimization, analytics, and automation.
A digital-first package will create new migration sales opportunities for NICE. Legacy, premises, voice-only customers looking to add a unified digital engagement solution will be able to deploy digital solutions and over time, replace existing voice solutions with CXone.
In a follow-up email, Jarman summarized, “Omnichannel service has been a myth until now. It needs to be digital-first, delivering a great experience for customers and contact center agents. Businesses need the ability to holistically manage and cost effectively support all channels that consumers are using today. CXone will finally make digital-first omnichannel service a reality.”
The O2 eBook referenced earlier described a strategic value that resulted from the consolidation of digital customer care at O2, one that has strategic implications for NICE inContact as well.
O2 recognized that social customer service, and the Brand Embassy platform, had application beyond the contact center. The company reports that soon after deployment, the traditional silos of sales, marketing, and customer service began to break down, with the result that the O2 gurus were helping to drive other company KPIs related to revenue increases, brand health, and media relations.
The market requirement to break down corporate silos to better support customer engagement is one that Genesys has identified within its customers and addressed with its acquisition of Altocloud. With its robotic process automation solution already firmly entrenched in major enterprises around the world, the new combination of CXone and Brand Embassy gives NICE another lever to position its solutions outside of the contact center.