CCaaS is now the “dominant mode” of operations for new contact centers and expansions of older service operations – as per Ventana Research.
Yet, in its Contact Center Suites Buyers Guide 2023, the analyst suggests that tech decision-making in the space is less a question of on-premise vs. the cloud these days.
Instead, buyers purchase tech primarily after assessing how it can adapt to their existing processes and future plans.
After that initial assessment, there are many platform providers to mull over.
After all, many new vendors have entered the market from various, sometimes surprising, directions. Meanwhile, more established vendors have come under pressure to adapt.
Recognizing this, Ventana Research created a 59-page evaluation, dissecting the contact center suites of 22 prominent CCaaS providers. Here’s how they performed.
Ventana Research’s Inclusion Criteria and Methodology
Ventana Research only evaluated CCaaS vendors that operate in more than one country and have an install base of over 50 customers.
The analyst also specified that providers must have a good standing “financially and ethically.”
Alongside these considerations, Ventana placed an emphasis on agent management, requesting that each vendor offer the following capabilities:
- Agent desktop support
- Agent performance management
- Automation and self-service
- Data and integrations
- Interaction handling analytics
- Interaction routing (voice and digital)
- Remote workforce support
- Workforce and quality management
These capabilities must appear on the vendor’s website and be generally available.
Ventana then asked providers who met the criteria to complete a comprehensive questionnaire – which it broke down into the following categories:
- Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) / Return on Investment (ROI)
- Validation of the Vendor
Alongside that, the analyst asked for product verification via documentation and/or demos.
After gathering all this info, Ventana applied weighted analytics to rank the 22 vendors on their contact center suites and spotlight high-level insights into each of their platforms.
Below are some of the top takeaways.
NICE and Genesys Lead the Way
As in the 2023 Gartner Magic Quadrant for CCaaS, NICE and Genesys claimed the top two spots in the overall rankings.
The two vendors also scored highest across six of the seven primary categories.
Indeed, NICE ranked first for capability, reliability, usability, and TCO/ROI. Meanwhile, Genesys achieved the best grades for adaptability and validation.
Manageability proved the only category in which these vendors didn’t take the top spot, with Content Guru claiming pole position.
While it may not have the market presence of NICE or Genesys, Content Guru often scores well in industry reports across such criteria – with expertise in complex enterprise CCaaS deployments.
Verint Races Into Third Spot
Despite only releasing its Open CCaaS Platform in June, Verint has raced into the top three of Ventana Research’s overall rankings.
A significant part of this is the considerable emphasis on agent management, an area Verint has much expertise in as a stalwart WEM solutions provider.
Indeed, the analyst singles out its workforce management suite as a central strength.
Nevertheless, its agent desktop also drew plaudits, helping Verint to rank in second place for the overall capabilities of its contact center suite.
Alongside this, Ventana Research spotlighted the “large resources” the vendor dedicates to customer commitment and support as a critical differentiator.
Salesforce Makes the Top Ten
As Service Cloud breaks the boundaries of CRM, more industry observers consider it a CCaaS solution – with a voice channel, omnichannel routing, digital engagement tools, and more.
Still, Salesforce does little to advertise it as such, perhaps frightened to hamper its relationships with leading contact center platform providers.
Yet, under this cloak, Salesforce works with many service operations as their core contact center vendor – and the CRM leader seems to be playing this role well.
Indeed, the vendor ranks eighth overall in Ventana’s report, with Salesforce’s integration ecosystem and customer experience receiving commendations.
Nonetheless, to break into the upper echelons of the market, Ventana recommends improvements to its platform reliability. Diving deeper into the study, the analyst states:
It could develop the processes and procedures to ensure business continuity.
LiveVox and Emplifi Impress Ventana
While leading vendors include many familiar names, LiveVox and Emplifi defied their smaller market presence to impress in the overall rankings, placing fifth and ninth, respectively.
LiveVox performed exceptionally well in its TCO/ROI, placing third in that category.
Ventana also highlighted the vendor’s “strong focus” on strategic value for existing and prospective customers as a considerable strength alongside its interaction routing capability.
Meanwhile, Emplifi achieved admirable scores across customer experience criteria – with the report amplifying the vendor’s “strong investment into excellent user experiences.”
Avaya and Cisco Continue the Catch-Up Game
Avaya and Cisco are stalwart contact center infrastructure (CCI) providers that still benefit from a substantial legacy customer base.
Yet, both entered the cloud relatively late and – ever since – have tried to claw back time by bulking up their CCaaS solutions.
While they’ve still got some catching up to do, the mid-table finish indicates some success in their evolution – placing 11th and 12th, respectively.
Indeed, Avaya earned kudos for its “excellent” core interaction handling capabilities, “robust” UI, and “good” agent guidance features.
Elsewhere, Cisco gained praise for its “high scalability”, “strong” business continuity options, and “excellent” collaboration tools for agents.
However, Ventana cautioned that Avaya should increase the depth of its integrations – particularly with data management tools. The analyst also suggests that Cisco could streamline its configuration and customization capabilities across its platform.
Microsoft Lifts Up the CCaaS Pile
In January, prominent enterprise communications analyst Zeus Kerravala told CX Today: “The Microsoft Contact Center will flop this year.”
Then, Kerravala stated: “It’s a good enough product, but I don’t believe the strategy will fly in the contact center, as it’s the lifeblood of most organizations.”
Unfortunately, the Ventana report seemingly concurs, ranking Microsoft as the lowest of all vendors for its Digital Contact Center Platform.
Notably, it scored very low in usability, with the analyst claiming:
[Its] UI/UX is far below the industry average and needs to be improved for a better overall user experience.
Ventana Research also suggests it “needs to articulate the reasons why customers can derive value from its products.”
The good news for Microsoft is that it has the resources to quickly change the status quo and could easily roll up a CCaaS leader or funnel investment into the space to turn the tide.
AWS Ranks 20th Overall
Perhaps the biggest shock from the Contact Center Suites Buyers Guide is the lowly ranking of AWS.
AWS, which earned market leader status in the recent CCaaS Magic Quadrant, has garnered much praise from other analysts for its Amazon Connect platform.
Often, they cite the vendor’s developer environment, pricing model, and broader ecosystem as substantial strengths. The latter includes Amazon Lex, Lambda, and Polly – which add significant value to its CCaaS solution.
Some also applaud AWS for its cloud infrastructure, which provides a robust underbelly for Amazon Connect – and Ventana did recognize this.
Nevertheless, the analyst cautioned that AWS still lacks knowledge and quality management features. Meanwhile, it refers to Connect’s interaction analytics solution as “rudimentary”.
More Work to Do In Agent-Assist AI
When sharing the study, Keith Dawson, VP & Research Director at Ventana Research, also gave his top takeaway from the report as a whole. He stated:
One thing I was surprised by is that even though AI is the hot topic of the moment, one of the most important potential use cases for the tool isn’t being used (or offered) as widely as I expected, and that’s agent assist/guidance.
“I think it has to do with the fact that work on developing or improving knowledge management is lagging behind basic foundational AI work,” concluded Dawson.
Factoring the Research Into CCaaS Decision-Making
Ultimately, Ventana Research created its Buyers Guide to assist its clients in evaluating the best-fit CCaaS vendor for their contact centers.
However, the analyst warns against copying its high-ranking providers and pasting them into a shortlist. After all, requirements will swing wildly from one company to another.
Recognizing this, Ventana also puts forward an eight-step process for choosing a CCaaS provider:
- Define the business case and goals
- Specify the business needs
- Assess the required roles and responsibilities
- Outline the project’s critical path
- Ascertain the technology approach
- Establish technology vendor evaluation criteria
- Evaluate and select the technology properly
- Establish the business initiative team to start the project
By reading the complete version of this report, contact centers can delve deeper into his framework and the evaluations of the 22 evaluated vendors.
To do so, visit the Ventana Research website.
Eager to soak up more analyst insight into the state of the contact center space? If so, check out our coverage of:
- The Forrester Wave for CCaaS 2023
- Gartner Critical Capabilities for Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) 2023
- Gartner Peer Insights “Voice of the Customer” for CCaaS 2023