Last week, Gartner released its 2023 Magic Quadrant for CCaaS study.
The report is a meticulous piece of market research. Yet, the quadrant matrix steals the show, and some businesses take it at face value and use the grid to inform their vendor shortlists.
No matter if that business is a large enterprise or a burgeoning SMB expanding beyond the confines of a UC or CRM platform – the matrix provides a North Star guide.
However, the requirements for these businesses will swing significantly.
Recognizing this, Gartner also releases a Critical Capabilities study, where the analyst adjusts its weightings to give each vendor a score across different use cases.
In this report, Gartner has done so across five use cases while listing “key findings”, “recommendations”, and – of course – “critical capabilities” to support various CCaaS buyers.
How Did Each Vendor Perform?
Across each of the following use cases, Gartner ranked vendors on a scale of one to five. Here’s how they performed.
#1 Use Case: High-Volume Customer Call Center
- Genesys – 3.70
- NICE – 3.60
- Content Guru – 3.56
- Five9 – 3.36
- Talkdesk – 3.25
- Amazon Web Services (AWS) – 3.20
- 8×8 – 3.18
- Vonage – 3.13
- Cisco – 2.90
#2 Use Case: Customer Engagement Center
- Genesys – 3.89
- NICE – 3.72
- Amazon Web Services (AWS) – 3.48
- Five9 – 3.28
- Talkdesk – 3.27
- Content Guru – 3.06
- 8×8 – 2.85
- Vonage – 2.53
- Cisco – 2.28
#3 Use Case: Digital Customer Service Center
- NICE – 3.69
- Genesys – 3.67
- Amazon Web Services (AWS) – 3.15
- Talkdesk – 3.03
- Content Guru – 3.00
- Five9 – 2.95
- 8×8 – 2.86
- Cisco – 2.50
- Vonage – 2.48
#4 Use Case: Agile Contact Center
- Amazon Web Services (AWS) – 3.72
- Genesys – 3.65
- NICE – 3.34
- Talkdesk – 3.03
- Five9 – 3.01
- 8×8 – 2.92
- Content Guru – 2.88
- Vonage – 2.55
- Cisco – 2.35
#5 Use Case: Global Contact Center
- Genesys – 3.74
- Amazon Web Services (AWS) – 3.56
- NICE – 3.09
- Five9 – 3.07
- Content Guru – 2.88
- 8×8 – 2.83
- Talkdesk – 2.70
- Vonage – 2.54
- Cisco – 2.51
Gartner’s Key Findings Into the CCaaS Space
Within its market overview, Gartner summarizes four essential findings from its lengthy analysis of the CCaaS space.
1. A Heightened Demand for Journey Orchestration Tools
The analyst notes how organizations increasingly seek orchestration tools from their CCaaS suites. These allow businesses to design new journeys across platforms and channels, whether or not they are bot- or human-assisted.
Perhaps this plays a part in why Genesys and NICE scored so well across each use case, with their Pointillist and Enlighten Journey Orchestration solutions, respectively.
2. Organizations Are Consolidating CCI Instances
Gartner highlights how businesses are leveraging the scalability and multi-region features from their CCaaS provider to consolidate “hundreds” of contact center infrastructure (CCI) instances.
That trend underlines how contact centers increasingly connect their data streams and perhaps emphasizes why Gartner lists “Data Center Design” as its first “critical capability”.
Recently, Five9 acquired Aceyus to bolster this crucial cornerstone of its CCaaS offering.
3. Businesses Place Emphasis on Workforce Engagement Management
The analyst suggests the “importance” of agent experience necessitates tighter integrations between CCaaS and workforce engagement management (WEM) solutions.
In this arena, Five9, Genesys, and NICE, in particular, differentiate themselves with mature offerings. Other vendors rely on integrations with the likes of Verint and Calabrio to close the gap.
4. Third-Party Applications Become a Differentiator
Enterprise SaaS environments are swelling, increasing the opportunity for tight integrations that enable new capabilities.
Gartner recognizes the increasing interoperability within partners’ software and notes how new applications should be available for trial and purchase within a CCaaS provider’s marketplace.
That may even include apps from CCaaS competitors. For instance, Genesys is now available within the AWS marketplace.
Gartner’s Recommendations for CCaaS Buyers
Wishing to equip service leaders with more insight to inform their CCaaS platform selection process, Gartner underlined the following four recommendations.
1. Ask for “Referenceable Transition Frameworks”
The analyst suggests quizzing prospective vendors on their “referenceable, transition frameworks, methodologies, and commercial options” for CCaaS migrations.
Within the Magic Quadrant report, Genesys received recognition for its processes and tools that aim to ease this transition.
2. Prioritize Solutions with a Depth of Native Capabilities
By prioritizing solutions with deep capabilities across CCaaS subsets – such as routing and WEM – contact centers can lower their total cost of ownership.
Yet, be cautious when considering this Gartner recommendation. Just because a vendor offers various WEM tools – for example – doesn’t mean it’ll meet the team’s complete requirements.
A leading European supermarket chain fell victim to this. It selected a vendor from the study, as it had “quality management (QM)”. But, when the QM team got their hands on it, they soon realized that it only met 15 percent of their needs. Ouch!
3. Seek Out Flexible Pricing Models
Throughout a CCaaS contract, a business’s # engagement strategy could change numerous times.
To plan for such eventualities, the analyst suggests giving increased consideration to pricing models, which accommodate probable shifts towards increased digital engagement and self-service.
Interestingly, AWS gained plaudits in the Magic Quadrant report for its usage-based pricing model. Such models are often more agile than traditional license-based systems.
4. Favor Credit-Based Contracts
Credit-based contracts allow businesses to pick and choose components of a CCaaS offering instead of the whole feature set.
Gartner argues that service leaders should select providers – and their partners – that offer “meaningful” service credit-based contracts, which flex across the deal’s duration.
The 13 Critical Capabilities for CCaaS
Despite CCaaS vendors weathering a storm of emerging AI, digital engagement, and tech convergence trends, Gartner’s critical capabilities for CCaaS stay the same as in 2022. They are:
1. Data Center Design
A robust data center architecture lays the foundations for a scalable and resilient CCaaS platform.
Moreover, it enables high availability, swift data recovery configurations, and the ability to stretch the platform to meet “peaky” demand.
2. Telephony-Centric Offer
Competitive voice carrier services are critical for customers to manage costs while maintaining a high-quality audio experience.
According to Gartner, a CCaaS vendor should put forward reference customers that cope with sky-high call volumes to emphasize their ability to deliver such an experience.
In addition, the analyst refers to bring your own telco (BYOT) as an “important feature”, allowing customers to shop for the best rates and cater to companies with complex telecom plans.
3. Digital-Centric Offer
Gartner believes CCaaS vendors should offer orchestration tools for consistent, persistent, and seamless contact center experiences. These should cross digital channels, including those driven by conversational AI.
Alongside these solutions, the analyst suggests that leading providers offer guidance to become more digitally-centric – considering people, process, and tech considerations.
As Gartner’s fourth “key finding” suggests: third-party applications are becoming a differentiator. As such, provider marketplaces are coming increasingly to the fore.
Tight integrations with technologies in adjacent fields are essential here. Salesforce for CRM, Microsoft Teams for UCaaS, and ServiceNow for ITSM are excellent examples.
Nonetheless, Gartner also highlights that “leading” providers will offer solutions developed by their communities alongside trial-and-buy options for numerous applications.
5. Developer Environment
Perhaps the most prominent example of this is AWS’s DevOps Playground for Amazon Connect users. It allows users to customize their platform and trial integrations in a test environment.
Such “safe spaces” enable a new level of composability, allowing IT teams to kickstart test-learn-optimize-embed workflows that accelerate and safeguard contact center innovation.
6. Workforce Engagement Management
CCaaS is slowly engulfing the WEM market. Principally, this includes workforce management (WFM) and QM solutions.
Nevertheless, this has swelled to include voice of the employee (VoE), gamification, learning management, and onboarding solutions.
Increasing their WEM capabilities across this product set should be a core focus for CCaaS providers, according to Gartner. It will ensure they rely too heavily on partners.
Yet, marketplace integrations with third-party integrations to specialist providers are essential.
7. Virtual Customer Assistant
As the contact center channel mix expands, the requirement for multimodal conversational AI applications inflates too.
Recognizing this, Gartner suggests contact centers should offer in-house conversational interfaces while acting as the orchestrator for various leading conversational AI platforms.
8. Customer Administration Portal
Ideally, such a portal allows users to create, customize, and manage contact center reports in real-time. These may oversee queues, routing, admin, and much more.
Data visualization tools are essential here to make critical insights more accessible.
However, perhaps most important is the capability to draw insights from various cloud instances to a single portal to oversee a global contact center operation.
9. Agent Experience
Gartner highlights the significance of a configurable agent desktop that provides space to manage customer interactions “holistically and efficiently”.
Yet, an excellent agent experience also hinges on a well-oiled knowledge strategy. Often, operations pair this with agent-assist tools to spotlight relevant knowledge to agents during live conversations.
Such solutions are the cornerstone of agent experience, alongside workforce collaboration tools and – once again – WEM suites.
10. Pricing & Contract Elasticity
Prices must be competitive and contracts flexible, with scalability to allow service operations to scale resources per seasonal and unexpected demand.
Gartner also spotlights best practices, such as transparent, publicly listed prices, charges in contract proposals, and market rates for quality of service.
Finally, contact centers should be wary of providers that impose over-consumption penalties.
11. SLAs and Trust Center
Typically, a service level agreement (SLA) is a target a contact center sets for replying to a particular percentage of conversations on a given channel in a specific time frame.
Yet, it also has a second meaning: the percentage of time a vendor can keep its SaaS solution online and available. Often, this ranges from 99.95 to 99.999 percent.
Contact centers should strive towards a minimum of 99.9 percent and ensure they receive a clear-cut series of compensation payments when an outage strikes.
12. Customer Experience
Peer Insights is Gartner’s verified review platform, which captures a glimpse of how CCaaS customers feel about their vendor’s products, services, and staff.
The analyst pairs this data with guidance from its team – which regularly engages with CCaaS end-users – to score providers on their customer experience.
13. Channel Partner Program
Ideally, CCaaS providers will serve up a convenient portal where customers can evaluate partners against their requirements, status, and customer ratings.
Such partners offer sales, implementation, and service support.
Previously, providers ring-fenced their partner programs to ensure premium customer experiences. Yet, as the race for CCaaS business heats up, some signs suggest that these standards are slipping. As such, vendors must remain wary.
More Insights Into the CCaaS Vendors
Here are additional insights into each vendor’s performance across the different use cases.
Gartner reveals that 8×8 improved on almost all of the 13 critical capabilities for CCaaS this year, following its decision to lead its sales efforts with CCaaS, not UCaaS.
That decision inspired a glut of CCaaS innovation and rethinking that enabled significant improvements to its data center design, customer experience, and agent experience.
Yet, the analyst isolates its limited availability of specialist channel partners and WEM reliance on third-party providers as concerns hindering its performance – especially in the global contact center use case.
As expected, AWS scores highly for its developer environment, marketplace, and pricing. Yet, Gartner also gives the provider plaudits for its customer experience.
The analyst goes outside the 13 criteria to note how AWS drives continued innovation through meticulous gathering, assessing, and actioning customer feedback.
Nonetheless, Gartner also labels its digital-centric and WEM propositions as weaker. Many would have predicted the latter, with AWS only adding WFM to Amazon Connect late last year.
Instead of reverse-engineering its legacy platform, Cisco built its CCaaS solution with guile, establishing a cloud-native foundation and CPaaS on the back end.
Such capabilities pave the way for high scores in its developer environment and a “strong communications infrastructure”. Cisco also reviews well for its telephony-centric proposition.
However, its virtual agents seemingly lack flexibility across use cases, the marketplace requires a facelift, and admin interfaces demand unification.
Content Guru offers a highly resilient and scalable CCaaS platform that profits from its robust data center design, contributing to its impressive high-volume call center ranking.
Alongside this, the vendor improved with respect to most of Gartner’s critical capabilities – with gains in customer experience, pricing, and contract elasticity.
Despite this, Content Guru did fall back in its virtual agent and channel partner program, with
Gartner attributes Five9’s admirable positioning in the global contact center use case to significant improvements in its data center design and maturing channel partner program.
The vendor also achieved high scores across the agent and customer experience capabilities, which it has built a reputation for.
Where Five9 falls back is in its digital-centric offer and marketplace, despite the latter picking up steam with a new capacity for trial-and-buy.
Genesys leads three of the five use cases, earning high scores for its digital-centric proposition, WEM suite, and data center design.
Yet, it also excels across many other capabilities, with Gartner referring to the vendor as “a strong contender for most organizations” as they select a CCaaS partner.
The only negative in the report is a slight downturn in client feedback relating to incident resolution, which impacted its customer experience score.
Placing first in the digital customer service center use case, NICE excels in its digital-centric offer, bolstered by enhancements to its journey orchestration platform.
The vendor also leads the way in WEM, increasing its standing in the domain this year while maintaining “strong” scores for SLA and trust.
However, Gartner indicates that CXone “lacks transparency” in its service availability reporting – which its fellow mature CCaaS vendors are standardizing.
Despite falling out of the leader square in the CCaaS Magic Quadrant report, Gartner notes that Talkdesk “made progress” against most critical capabilities last year.
Indeed, the vendor enjoyed significant gains in the SLA and trust center, telephony-centric, and developer environment capabilities.
Where Talkdesk lagged most notably – in respect to last year’s edition – is in customer experience, as Gartner highlights a marginal rise in negative client feedback relating to services and support.
Now a part of Ericsson, Vonage shines in its virtual customer assistant capabilities – which Gartner attributes to its new Conversational AI Studio – and agent experience.
Vonage also differentiates in its mobility, which may help the vendor gain ground on rivals if Gartner gives greater credence to network experience and BYOT.
Yet, it lags in its channel partner program and – like many of its market rivals – also endured a deflation in its customer experience scores.
Dive Deeper Into the CCaaS Market
Despite the meticulous nature of Gartner’s CCaaS research, it only covers nine prominent CCaaS providers. Worldwide, there are hundreds.
These include everyone from Avaya to Zoom, with the likes of Google, Microsoft, and Salesforce sandwiched in between.
Indeed, there are many more CCaaS players that service leaders may wish to consider, some with significant differentiators of their own.
Uncover many more of these industry stalwarts and find out what they bring to the CCaaS table by checking out our comprehensive contact center market map.