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March 24, 2021

Next Generation CCaaS: The AI Powered Contact Center

AI in the Contact Center

Thomas Smith

Strategy and Business Development Director

Artificial Intelligence is already impacting virtually all facets of our lives:  everything from our newsfeeds to security to education to entertainment to the cars we drive and the roads we travel.  This is also true in the business world, where AI can be used for myriad tasks, such as predicting customer churn, assessing credit risks, and identifying potential new hires.  Optimizing performance while delivering better business outcomes in the contact center is no exception.

Benefits of AI in the Contact Center

AI encompasses a wide range of technologies, including machine learning, natural language understanding, and image recognition.  These tools can be leveraged to make contact centers operate more efficiently and effectively.  AI can enhance self-service capabilities; anticipate customer needs and launch proactive outreach; identify the need for escalation to an agent; determine the resource best suited to resolve an issue; intelligently route inquiries to agents; ascertain caller intent; provide agents with information to enable first contact resolution; flag complex interactions in real-time for supervisor intervention; and even mine past voice and digital sessions to identify patterns and derive actionable business intelligence.

These use cases and others will enable organizations to attain better business outcomes.  Aragon Research predicts that by year-end 2022, AI-based contact centers will be able to identify the reason for a customer’s call 50% faster, saving time and money and improving user experience.  Aragon also estimates the transaction cost with a virtual agent is only about $1-$4, compared with $15-$100 with a human agent.  For these reasons and others, P&S Intelligence projects that organizations will increase their spending on contact center AI from $915M in 2018 to nearly $3B annually by 2024.  Clearly, businesses are recognizing the power of AI to create a competitive advantage.

The Market Landscape

Avaya is widely acknowledged as a global leader in contact center solutions.  We enable millions of agents, at thousands of organizations around the world, to help customers resolve issues and address ambitions every day. 

And AI is an increasingly critical component of our value.  “The contact center market is evolving to address changes in customer expectations and more stringent enterprise requirements, and Avaya is at the forefront of applying innovation to the customer journey,” said Jim Lundy, CEO and Lead Analyst at Aragon, “including its application of emerging AI technologies.”  In fact, Avaya’s Innovation team has developed bleeding-edge AI capabilities for the contact center, such as Avaya Conversational Intelligence (ACI), which harnesses the power of natural language processing to substantially increase agent performance in real-time, reduce after-call agent work, initiate workflow actions, enhance regulatory compliance, and improve the overall customer experience.

But while Avaya is a dominant player in communications, we must recognize that the AI business is rife with competition, from startups creating niche applications to powerhouses like IBM, Nuance, Google, and Amazon.  Fortunately, as a leader in customer experience and CC, we have a rich ecosystem of AI partners who strengthen the value of the Avaya solutions we deliver to our customers.

How Can Avaya Deliver Unique Value?

Avaya creates value for our customers in the emerging Intelligent Contact Center space by leveraging a combination of in-house and partner AI capabilities, combined with our unsurpassed contact center expertise – plus the one ingredient critical to optimizing AI’s effectiveness:  data.

“Data is the new oil,” according to a popular maxim coined a few years back by British data scientist Clive Humby.  In fact, successful AI algorithms need three things, observes Kai-Fu Lee in his insightful book AI Superpowers:  China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order:  big data, computing power, and strong engineering.  And once computing power and engineering talent reach a certain threshold, data becomes the differentiator.

And, of course, not just any data will do.  Companies like Google and Amazon have trained their general purpose NLU engines using mass stores of data and Avaya leverages the benefits of that work rather than replicate it.  But they can optimize results in the contact center only when fueled with domain-specific data such as that which Avaya possesses.  While leveraging this asset, Avaya must act as stewards for our customers’ data, allowing them to retain ownership rights and control access.  We will remain diligent in protecting user privacy and complying with all applicable regulations while using anonymized data to enhance the performance of our algorithms. 

Through this combination in-house expertise, strategic partnerships, and AI model optimization, Avaya is well positioned to deliver superior AI-powered contact center solutions.

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