As brands become more experience-driven, contact centers are increasingly coming to the fore.
After all, they often harness a deep well of customer insight, lead the digital charge, and – of course – engage directly with customers.
Yet, managing a contact center is not easy. Planning for the future while managing the status quo is arduous – especially in times of high demand, recruitment woes, and increasing customer expectations.
In many cases, technology is the saving grace. Yet, hundreds of Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) vendors are out there.
To help leaders cut through the noise, Gartner has assessed nine of the most prominent vendors, pinpointing three market leaders in its 2022 Magic Quadrant for CCaaS.
The Definition of Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS)
CCaaS refers to all cloud-based applications that enable and support companies in communicating with customers across multiple channels.
Housed within CCaaS platforms, these applications – either native or available through third-party integrations – are designed to enhance various customer, employee, and business outcomes.
Yet, according to Gartner, the core capability of a CCaaS platform is to deliver “channel-agnostic” service journeys, which sometimes feature AI-powered self-service options.
The analyst also identifies the three following “optional” CCaaS functionalities:
- Process orchestration to support personal customer engagement.
- Resource management to enhance employee experiences.
- Knowledge and operational insights into the success of service journeys.
Combined, Gartner labels these elements as its ” four pillars of great customer service.”
CCaaS providers typically offer solutions in each arena. However, not always natively. Each of those included in the Magic Quadrant has its own marketplace to extend its features further and connect the platform with other enterprise solutions. BI, CRM, and UC platforms are all common examples.
By presenting such options to their clients, CCaaS vendors enable contact centers to drive customer experiences forward.
A tantalizing prospect. Yet, it begs the question; which CCaaS provider leads the space?
Assessing nine vendors, Gartner aimed to find out, splitting them into four categories: Leaders, Challengers, Visionaries, and Niche Players.
Gartner Magic Quadrant Leaders
Leaders in Gartner Magic Quadrant provide “strong support” for Gartner’s four pillars of customer service. In addition, they typically work with multinational organizations while delivering localized sales and support. As such, they are highly recognizable brands with large customer bases and have enjoyed above-average market growth. This year’s leaders are:
Since its 2016 acquisition of inContact, NICE has led the space, developing significant strengths in contact center analytics, automation, and workforce engagement management. Combining these, NICE is building and refining its self-learning customer interaction modules. These allow clients to spot opportunities to execute AI-driven journeys and workflows and are an excellent example of its innovative service vision, which Gartner lauds. The analyst also singles out its sales and geographic strategy for specific praise. Earlier this year, NICE surpassed $1 Billion in annual cloud revenue.
Achieving a $21BN valuation and a $580mn funding round in December 2021, Genesys continues to lead the industry, thanks in part to a strong vision, R&D, and acquisition strategy. Indeed, the vendor snapped up Bold360, Exceed.ai, and Pointillist in a matter of months last year. Such moves impress Gartner, while the analyst also appears to admire the tools and processes that Genesys offers to support clients in moving their contact centers to the cloud. The Magic Quadrant also notes that its operational and channel presence exemplifies the success of the vendor’s geographic strategy.
Recently taking eighth spot of the 2022 Forbes Cloud 100, the only CCaaS vendor to make the list, Talkdesk demonstrates native and partner capabilities across all four pillars of customer service. Moreover, these capabilities fit into a well-crafted vertical strategy, with the vendor offering industry-specific solutions for mission-critical markets, such as healthcare and finance. Gartner notes this approach as a particular plus point, alongside Talkdesk’s “attractive” pricing, commitment to post-deployment success, and overall service strategy.
Gartner Magic Quadrant Challengers
Like leaders, challengers in Gartner Magic Quadrant boast a large customer base. Furthermore, they have recognized their strengths and play to them, enjoying great success in serving specific verticals and customer sizes. However, they are likely to have “less-developed product capabilities” than leaders and perhaps also trail in marketplace representation. This year’s challengers are:
- Content Guru
Recently celebrating a record quarter in new bookings and deals, Five9 has undergone a period of significant growth, expanding rapidly into Europe and Latin America. This comes off the back of its failed takeover by Zoom in 2021, yet its market responsiveness is another likely factor. Gartner also points to strengths such as its AI and NLU competencies, vertical market strategy, and post-sales support. However, the analyst cautions that Five9 must continue its investment in expanding regional support outside North America, so clients can better manage the supplier relationship.
Content Guru storm CONTACT is frequently favored by organizations with large, complex contact center requirements – which its work with the NHS is perhaps a testament to. Why? Likely because its platform is highly scalable with deep integration and automation capabilities. Gartner commends Content Guru for this while picking out its system resilience and healthcare competency for targeted praise. Unfortunately, like Five9, it slips behind the leading back due to limited support in specific regions, with the vendor’s operations primarily centered in Europe.
Gartner Magic Quadrant Visionaries
Visionaries in the Magic Quadrant demonstrate a forward-thinking sales, marketing, and business development strategy. In addition, they differentiate their CCaaS platforms with innovative and sometimes unique capabilities that help build brand awareness. Nevertheless, they typically lag leaders in size and “investment potential for international expansion.” This year’s visionaries are:
- Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Amazon Web Services (AWS)
After adding a native workforce management (WFM) solution to its platform this year and embedding Lex conversational AI, AWS must have hoped to sneak into the leader quadrant. Yet, it remains a little short of this goal. Gartner does applaud its new Lex-enabled offerings, as its Amazon Connect CCaaS platform exploits the AI innovation within AWS’s comprehensive portfolio. The Magic Quadrant report also highlights its agile pricing and global reach as notable strengths. Yet, Gartner would like more integrations for clients to extend and customize their solutions beyond the AWS sphere.
Gartner Magic Quadrant Niche Players
Niche players in the Magic Quadrant have showcased high growth rates, allowing them to take their place in the report. They have typically focused on a particular market opportunity or specific verticals to achieve this expansion. As such, their platforms are often narrow, relying on partners to complete their CCaaS proposition. This year’s niche players are:
- Cisco (Webex)
Launched in 2020, Cisco is the only new entrant in the CCaaS Magic Quadrant. Its Webex solution has received much acclaim, winning a 2022 CX Award for Best Contact Center Platform. Tying the platform closely with its collaboration portfolio – which includes UCaaS and CPaaS solutions – seemed a critical reason for the win, something Gartner praised too. The analyst also noted that it has good coverage across each of its four pillars. However, Gartner cautions that the Webex Contact Center seems best suited to SMBs, and that channel partners are taking their time to embrace it.
Like Webex, 8×8 combines UCaaS, CCaaS, and CPaaS onto a single platform. Gartner approves of its strategy while highlighting its Microsoft Teams integration options as a strength. Moreover, the vendor is set up for growth in many regions across the globe, and its redesigned agent interface is supposedly easy to use. Nevertheless, the analyst suggests that 8×8’s sweet spot is working with operations of fewer than 500 agents. It also cautions that many CCaaS sales come through third-party channels, some of which seem lacking in “strong contact center expertise.”
Gartner claims that uncertainty surrounds the long-term plans of the Vonage Contact Center (VCC), which may explain its slip from its position as a challenger in 2021. Such uncertainty stems from its recent $6.2 billion acquisition by Ericsson. Nevertheless, Vonage flaunts a CCaaS solution that still receives extremely positive reviews on the Salesforce AppExchange. Gartner notes this while spotlighting its marketing strategy and October 2021 Jumper.ai acquisition as considerable strengths. The latter will boost its analytics capabilities and digital channel support.
What Has Changed Since 2021?
Interestingly, almost every vendor seems to have slipped in its positioning in the past year. For context, here is the 2021 Magic Quadrant.
The one exception is AWS. The vendor has enjoyed a rapid period of innovation, bringing its CCaaS solution much closer to the rest of its portfolio, which notably includes Amazon Lex, its conversational AI solution.
On the flip side, Vonage has slipped substantially down the ranking from challenger to niche player. However, the vendor has recently received rave reviews for its CPaaS platform, which may signal a switch in market focus.
8×8 suffered a similar fate, taking the place of Evolve IP, Lifesize, and Worldline in the niche player quadrant – all of which dropped out. As did Odigo, a 2021 CCaaS visionary. Gartner cites that the vendor failed to meet the updated inclusion criteria for market presence in three regions.
NICE, Genesys, and Talkdesk encountered no such problems, continuing their stranglehold on the leadership quadrant.
Nevertheless, if AWS continues to innovate quickly and Five9 invests further in regional services to support its charging growth, the 2023 leader quadrant may look rather different.
Check out some of our other rundowns of Magic Quadrant reports below:
- Gartner Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms 2022
- Gartner Magic Quadrant for Customer Service BPO 2022
- Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Conversational AI Platforms 2022