Contact Centers at Enterprise Connect: A Tale of Two Markets
Returning from Enterprise Connect, I happened to see a gentleman on the plane reading one of my favorite books, Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities.” I quoted the opening line to him as we discussed the novel: “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” With those iconic words echoing around my head, I couldn’t help but reflect that for me, it perfectly summed up the contact center market happenings at Enterprise Connect. While the big buzz at the show was about WebRTC, (see Dan Miller’s excellent WebRTC write-up here) contact centers played a prominent role at the show this year. Sheila McGee- Smith joked at her popular Monday panel on the state of the contact center market, “the UC (Unified Communications) wave has passed; we’re back in control.” But Sheila also shared some very disturbing data from market research firm MZA, that stated global revenue from on premise contact center seats declined 8% in the first half of 2012. Jonathan Koziol, president of Aspect Software admitted, “you have to be a little concerned.” On the bright side, I had the pleasure of participating in Sheila’s Contact Center Cloud Offering panel. I shared my excitement with the audience, explaining that Five9 is experiencing explosive growth at 50% a year. My fellow cloud contact center panelists from Verizon, Interactive Intelligence, inContact and Echopass are seeing gains as well. I liken this market to the heady early days of the dotcom boom- but with a viable business model. DMG Consulting recently released the 2012-13 cloud based contact center infrastructure report which forecasts 30-45% year over year growth for the next few years. In addition, DMG predicts that 18.1% of North American contact center seats will reside in the cloud by 2015. According to Gartner, less than 5% of current agent seats are cloud based. Why the huge contrast? There is clearly a tectonic shift occurring in the contact center market; the big move to the cloud is finally here. The shift mirrors the general enterprise software movement to the cloud; albeit lagging slightly behind. It’s a sea change that is inevitable. The technology has now matured to the point where thousands of contact centers are realizing that deploying a contact center in the cloud is better, faster and cheaper than on premise systems. Cloud contact center solutions like Five9 offers rich feature sets for inbound, outbound and blended contact centers, with support for multi-site and at home agents. All of these advantages, plus low up front costs in a pay as you go model, and the ability to scale up and down quickly and deploy within days or weeks, with only a headset, a computer and an Internet connection. The distinction is clear; cloud contact centers provide a huge advantage over on premise systems. It is truly “the best of times” in the cloud contact center market.