Microsoft challenges AWS and Google in AI-powered contact centers

Microsoft’s latest cloud-based Digital Contact Center offering combines AI capabilities with applications including Dynamics 365, Teams, Power Platform and Nuance.

The contact center as-a-service (CCaaS) market is on the rise as companies seek to provide better service and a better customer experience. To take advantage of this strong growth, Microsoft launched yesterday, at the annual Inspire conference, an all-in-one cloud-based offering to compete with hyperscalers like AWS and Google, but also companies like Oracle, SAP and ServiceNow. . “Dubbed Digital Contact Center and available now, the offering combines artificial intelligence capabilities with existing Microsoft services and products, including Dynamics 365, Teams, Power Platform and Nuance,” said Charles Lamanna, corporate vice president of enterprise applications and low-code platform portfolio at Microsoft.

“The goal of this contact center service is to provide omnichannel engagement, self-service, intent prediction, biometric authentication and customer analytics to enable businesses to deliver personalized services. that can drive revenue growth,” said Charles Lamanna. Using its AI capabilities, the service can detect the reason a customer is calling the service and connect them to the agent best qualified to handle the issue at hand. Other features highlighted by Lamanna include recommending documentation to agents during a call to help them resolve a particular issue, and a history of similar requests that agents can review to find, if necessary, more specialized experts.

Unifying CCaaS and UCaaS

“With Digital Contact Center, agents can interact with customers across multiple channels (voice, video, chat) at the same time and perform biometric authentication,” Microsoft said, adding that it also allows businesses to build chatbots to handle repetitive and complex tasks. Microsoft’s offering also includes a module called ContextIQ. This is capable of performing sentiment analysis and suggesting the best responses to agents during a call. The capability also helps create a learning loop for automated applications, such as chatbots, to become smarter. Microsoft has partnered with companies like Acenture-Avanade, Genesys and HCL to make its new offering interoperable and compatible with other existing contact center systems. “Systems integrators like EY, TCS, KPMG and PwC will also help businesses integrate the new digital contact center,” Microsoft said.

“Microsoft may be behind when it comes to CCaaS, but the vendor is still taking it a step further by integrating its unified communications product as a service, Teams, into the new CCaaS platform, with Dynamics Customer 365,” said Liz. Miller, principal analyst at Constellation Research. Note that Dynamics Customer 365, Microsoft’s existing customer service module that resides in the Dynamics 365 ERP suite will continue to be sold. “Digital Contact Center builds on the Dynamics Customer 365 service offering and integrates Teams, Nuance and delivers cloud scale and availability,” said Liz Miller. “The unification of UCaaS and CCaaS is in the air, as the growing use of UCaaS tools has made customer support operations increasingly dependent on cloud communications to meet customer needs,” added said the Constellation Research analyst. “This announcement comes at a time when buyers of CCaaS solutions are desperate for a good solution. These buyers are on a mission to ensure that the contact center is no longer an operational cost center that unintentionally provides negative customer experiences, but a revenue opportunity resulting from exceptional experiences,” said Liz Miller.

A highly competitive CCaaS market

“While this CCaaS offering seems to fit logically into Microsoft’s product portfolio and positions the company in the end-to-end customer service provider market, at a time when the expectation of unique solutions is strong, the competition will be tough,” said Vasupradha Srinivasan, principal analyst at Forrester Research. “The new product is going to face fierce competition, as players can attest to many years of contact center and customer service expertise,” said Vasupradha Srinivasan, adding, however, that a middle market segment underutilized could become strategic for the new product, especially if the Redmond firm wants to combine it with a Dynamics or Azure enterprise purchase.

According to Fortune Business Insights, the global CCaaS market is growing and is expected to reach $15.07 billion in 2029, representing a compound annual growth rate of 17.5%, from $4.87 billion in 2022 Microsoft’s rivals in this market are not idle. So in June, Amazon Web Services added a final case management feature, dubbed Amazon Cases, to its Amazon Connect cloud database. And in March, Google Cloud modified its Contact Center AI (CCAI) service so it can integrate with customer relationship management (CRM) applications and provide businesses with real-time insights and data analytics.

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