Amazon Connect to Become Mainstream as Customers Move Contact Centers to the Cloud and Leverage AI/ML for Automation

S. Soh

Summary Bullets:

• Five new capabilities for Amazon Connect were announced at re:Invent 2020 that will allow agents and supervisors to be more efficient and effective.

• As enterprises move their contact center to the cloud, they should look at adding artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) capabilities to drive better customer experience.

Since the launch of Amazon Connect in 2017, AWS’ contact center solution has made significant progress and it is now a serious contender in the enterprise segment. The adoption will continue to accelerate as the pandemic drags on and companies move workloads more quickly to the cloud. This trend will benefit all contact center vendors, not just AWS, since most vendors have a cloud-based option to help customers make the transition at their own pace. However, AWS’ strengths lie within its operational scale and its partner ecosystem. More crucially, the hyperscale cloud provider is rapidly adding its AI and ML technologies to further strengthen the appeal of Amazon Connect.

Some of the major innovations were unveiled at the re:Invent 2020 in December, AWS announced five new capabilities for Amazon Connect which uses AI and ML to help agents and managers to become more efficient and effective. Amazon Connect Wisdom provides built-in agent assistance including ML-powered search and real-time recommendations for agents to provide faster response. Amazon Connect Voice ID provides real-time caller authentication making voice interactions in contact centers more secure and efficient. Amazon Connect Customer Profiles brings together customer information from disparate sources without having to build integrators or wrangle data. Amazon Connect Tasks allows contact center managers to better automate, track, and manage agent tasks from a pure cloud environment. Tasks can be sourced from third-party applications (e.g., Salesforce) and managers can programmatically create tasks for agents to follow-up on a customer case. AWS launched Contact Lens launched in 2019 to help supervisors analyze call transcripts to better understand sentiment and trends of customer conversations. Real-Time Contact Lens for Amazon Connect extends the Contact Lens’ capabilities to live calls.

With these new capabilities, Amazon Connect covers a lot of grounds from omni-channel support through to unified customer data, automated agent assist, task management, and real-time intelligence for sentiment and trends. It is also a challenge for competitors to keep pace with AWS’ rate of innovation. Some vendors have chosen to partner with AWS to strengthen their offerings. On January 12, 2021, AWS announced the global expansion of its Contact Center Intelligence (CCI) solutions which include Amazon Transcribe for translation, Amazon Kendra for intelligent search, Amazon Lex for conversational AI and Amazon Comprehend for language comprehension functionalities. CCI is made available through AWS’ partners and allowing enterprises to add these AI/ML capabilities to existing third-party contact center solutions. The announcement of the CCI global expansion also highlights new AWS Technology Partners including Salesforce, Avaya, Talkdesk, 8×8, Clarabridge, Clevy, XappAI, and Voiceworx as well as AWS Consulting Partners including Inawisdom (now part of Cognizant), Cation Consulting, HCL Technologies, Wipro, First Derivatives, Servion, and Lucy in the Cloud/Micropole.

AWS does well in developing the technology but it relies heavily on its consulting partners, particularly in the enterprise segment, to help enterprise customers deploy its contact center solutions and carry out any customization. Most of the global system integrators and consulting firms now have an AWS practice and increasingly, the telecom providers are signing strategic collaboration agreements with AWS to build up their expertise in implementing the hyperscaler’s cloud services.

At re:Invent 2020, AWS claimed more than 5,000 customers used Amazon Connect to spin up call centers during the pandemic. To meet the challenges posed by the pandemic, enterprises need a cost-effective and scalable contact center solution that can be activated quickly and support remote agents. But the next phase will see greater focus on the use of AI/ML and other workflow automation solutions (e.g., communications platform as a service or CPaaS) to improve contact center efficiency and deliver better customer outcomes (e.g., finding the answers for customers more rapidly or providing more personalized experience). There are many cloud-based contact center solutions in the market, but enterprise customers looking for a solution with a strong roadmap should consider Amazon Connect as a candidate.

 

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