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Talkdesk Goes UC

This week, of course, is Enterprise Connect, now fully virtual, and, as always, a launchpad for new products. One of the first up is CCaaS leader Talkdesk, with the announcement of Talkdesk Phone, a phone system for general business workers. While many UCaaS vendors have added contact center features through acquisitions or internal development, Talkdesk becomes the first major CCaaS vendor to add UC capabilities natively.
 
Talkdesk Phone, the company’s first foray into UC, is a full-featured enterprise telephony solution built on the same cloud-native backend as its contact center solution. The product includes all the bells and whistles you’d expect of a business phone system: multiparty conferencing, call waiting, voicemail, call history, E911, a graphical administrator console, and more. Users can choose from a desktop and web client, mobile app, or any SIP desktop or conference phone.
 
The UCaaS-CCaaS integration trend is well understood, with the latest validation coming from Zoom and its recent decision to spend billions to acquire Five9. However, all the activity to date has been UC vendors adding contact center to their portfolios. Considering that UC buyers tend to have much greater influence on contact center purchasing than the other way around, this makes sense.
 
The big question for Talkdesk is how it can use its position as a CCaaS vendor that offers UCaaS to usurp the UCaaS vendor that offers CCaaS. Given the glut of UC vendors today, Talkdesk will need to be very focused in its go-to-market strategy and look for specific opportunities rather than trying to be all things to all people. Talkdesk’s most obvious path to success is with businesses that have telephony-heavy, customer-centric workflows outside of the contact center. Verticals such as healthcare, retail, and financial services would be its low-hanging fruit.
 
Arguably, Talkdesk should have a better understanding of customer experience than the UCaaS community, as 100% of the interactions that go through its platform are for customer service. If it could use this knowledge to build features that could improve customer experience, the scales would tip in its favor. An example might be to automate the setup of an internal conference call if a customer interaction goes poorly. An AI engine could monitor all customer-facing interactions and initiate that call when picking up on certain triggers. That’s obviously a long-term differentiation. Near-term opportunities would come from expanding its position inside its installed base and offering calling to those customer-centric voice workflows I referred to previously.
 
During a pre-briefing, Talkdesk provided several customer examples. In one retail example, it described a scenario where an installation contractor calls a store to check on parts availability. Since this is an internal call, it would typically come in via a UC system. If the call goes unanswered or if lines are busy, an integrated platform could deflect it to a contact center agent, who can handle the inquiry and search the store's inventory. The unification of the UC and contact center platforms makes this seamless.
 
To remove friction from the buying process, Talkdesk has given customers a number of purchasing options. Businesses can buy the phone system from the cloud and then look to add on direct inward dialing (DID) numbers for individuals who may require them. Also, Talkdesk offers a number of affordable calling plans to meet different customer needs. I asked Talkdesk for more details on pricing, but none were available. If Talkdesk can execute on this, there is tremendous upside potential as companies typically buy five to 10 UC seats per one contact center seat.
 
The converged platform wars are heating up and, to date, it’s been the UC vendors taking the lead. Talkdesk is the first major cloud contact center provider to act on this trend. Phone is the start, but I fully expect Talkdesk to broaden its feature set to include other aspects of UC. I think it’s also likely we will see other contact center vendors follow its lead.

To learn more from Talkdesk, visit its booth at Enterprise Connect Virtual! Get your free all-access pass here.

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