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In 2022, Customer Engagement Platforms Expanded Their AI Capabilities

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Customer relationships have grown increasingly more complex, and 2022 was a year where communications professionals were tasked with finding ways to proactively engage users at every step in the customer cycle from awareness to engagement to experience resolution. Customer engagement platforms offer a way to do this by capturing customer data from a variety of sources and unifying it so the enterprise can continually analyze and respond to that data across multiple channels.

We spoke with Mila D'Antonio, a principal analyst at Omdia who follows customer engagement platforms, customer journey orchestration, and customer data platforms, about the biggest developments in the customer engagement space for 2022, including an increased use of AI and a push for composable enterprises.

Responses have been edited for clarity.

 

Can you describe the peaks and pits you observed in the customer engagement platform space this year?

There are a few peaks to point out. The first is that the leading customer engagement platform (CEP) market vendors are demonstrating their commitment to CEP expansion by having made significant acquisitions that are moving them closer to their strategic goals.

Additionally, vendors in the customer engagement platforms market are extending end-to-end visibility. In achieving that, CEPs will become the control center that helps enterprises configure and/or extend their own processes. This approach will help enterprises build resilience by creating environments that enable businesses to consume business processes in a composable fashion and orchestrate them across system boundaries.

In terms of functionality, the CEP leaders are increasingly offering a robust activation layer, largely enabled by their in-depth AI and analytics offerings. The activation layer is where engagement is actioned according to a wide range of industry and customer needs. In doing so, they support not only customer service but field service, ABM, marketing, sales, etc. 

A primary pitfall is an offshoot of the leaders trying to compete in the activation layer. And that is it’s becoming difficult to distinguish between the capabilities and functionalities between vendors. What’s happening is that as the capabilities within the orchestration and activation functionalities have become table stakes, most of the leading vendors have all adopted the necessary components to compete. This makes an enterprise’s choice of strategic CEP vendors difficult.

What are some industry trends you noticed?

Here are two I noticed from the last year.

First, investments in AI will advance and automate knowledge across the enterprise, making it actionable. Since the rush to digital adoption over the past couple years, business leaders have been reimagining customer engagement and taking AI out of its siloed instances to integrate it across all workflows.

Omdia’s ICT Enterprise Insights: ICT Drivers and Technology Priorities 2023 reveals how 53% of respondents are advanced in AI transformation efforts and 58% are advanced in their efforts to share data insights. Additionally, 60% said they value intelligent knowledge bases. Together, these statistics reveal a recognition of the importance of data-driven decision-making and foreshadow a conversion of AI and knowledge to advance efforts to enable real-time insights at all key customer-facing touchpoints. Consequently, the market will see vendors further embedding AI into workflows and offering guided conversations through agent-assist, as well as dynamic, intelligent, and conversational self-service.

Second, unified user interfaces will serve as the catalyst for integrating CX and EX. Vendors are reimagining the next-generation workforce with single interfaces that allow employees to access their applications and data from any device via a single-user interface. For example, an agent can see everything about a customer, including past purchases, payment details, and service status. Recent advancements and inclusions include customer journey orchestration and workforce engagement solutions like forecasting and scheduling.

In a recent webinar, you mentioned the heightened need for companies to improve the digital experience, while building a digital workplace in 2022—and that having a customer data platform is the critical pre-requisite for customer data platform (CDP) functionality. How will CDPs shape the future of customer engagement platforms?

CDPs will become native to customer engagement platforms, and together they will serve as ‘command and control’ for customer experience. The CDP, which was originally adjacent to customer experience platform architecture, has become foundational to many customer experience platforms. Most recently, Omdia has noticed vendors rearchitecting their customer engagement models to centralize their CDPs for improved orchestration across the entire enterprise and to make customer insights available to all. With this approach, CDPs will do more than find the next-best action or the optimal audience: they will pivot to enterprise systems of record and engagement. This will help to align the relevant business functions from across an enterprise to deliver unified, consistent, and personalized experiences to customers.

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