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June 05, 2023

ACD Reimagined: A Quantum Leap from Automatic Call Distribution to AI, Cloud, and Digital Services

ACD Reimagined: A Quantum Leap from Automatic Call Distribution to AI, Cloud, and Digital Services

Emir Susic

Global Vice President, Avaya Customer Experience Services

Consider the labor-intensive, time-consuming process of manually routing calls in the early days of telephony. With each incoming call, operators faced the challenge of connecting the caller to the appropriate recipient. This scene dramatically shifted with the advent of Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) systems in the 1970s. Like stepping into a car with an automatic transmission after only driving stick-shift, suddenly calls were being distributed more efficiently, without the need for a human dispatcher.

Thomas Edison said, "There's a way to do it better - find it." True to the innovator’s words, we did indeed find a better way. The ACD system, just like those early telephone operations, has evolved substantially since its inception. The conventional ACD was a dependable stalwart, managing and directing incoming calls based on predefined rules. However, akin to all technological advancements, its evolution was inevitable.

Today, the acronym ACD stands for a much broader phenomenon - AI, Cloud, and Digital services.

AI: Imagine being a chess player, scrutinizing every move, predicting outcomes, and making optimal decisions. This is the level of intricacy that AI brings to the modern contact center. By integrating AI, we've moved from predictable, rules-based routing to a more dynamic, intelligent system. This transition is like going from a simple chess game to taking on IBM's Deep Blue, the computer that famously defeated world chess champion, Garry Kasparov, in 1997.

Cloud: The advent of cloud technology for contact centers has been akin to the invention of electricity. As electricity liberated us from daylight constraints and strenuous manual labor, cloud services have unshackled contact centers from the restrictions of on-premises infrastructure. This paradigm shift offers unparalleled flexibility and scalability, empowering businesses to operate with increased agility and resilience. And unique Avaya “Innovation without Disruption” technology takes this a step farther in enabling business to continue to use on-premises capabilities while connecting these to cloud capabilities. 

Digital Services: Drawing from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, consider Alice's line: "Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." In today's digital era, customers demand the 'impossible' – they want to interact with businesses via numerous channels, and they expect a seamless experience on each one. Modern contact centers, empowered by digital services, are turning the impossible into reality, proficiently managing customer interactions across a myriad of channels and delivering a cohesive customer experience.

This new version of ACD has instigated revolutionary changes within contact centers:

Improved Customer Experience: AI and digital services work in tandem to provide swift, personalized customer service across multiple channels.

Increased Operational Efficiency: The evolved ACD, with AI and cloud services, is the epitome of efficiency - much like a Swiss army knife, versatile and highly capable.

Empowered Agents: AI tools act as a trusted compass, providing real-time guidance that improves performance and customer interactions.

Cost Savings: The advent of cloud services has drastically reduced infrastructural costs, comparable to trading in a gas-guzzler for a sleek, efficient electric vehicle.

Business Intelligence: AI and digital services, the wise oracles of the contact center, provide invaluable insights into customer behavior and interaction patterns, which guide strategic decisions.

The Avaya Experience Platform is built to embrace the “NEW” ACD!

One problem with many existing CCaaS market offerings is that they are built on a foundation that is based on concepts developed before the recent leaps forward in AI technologies.  As Vladimir Lenin famously said, “There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen.” 

Avaya has constructed a technology architecture and approach that embraces the future of AI while also enabling organizations to adopt these technologies and cloud services at their desired pace. And when you move forward with Avaya, you are not just adding technology. With Avaya’s extensive global network of professional services expertise and partners you are buying new business outcomes!

It’s Time to Take Your CX to a New Level

In conclusion, the transformation of ACD mirrors the evolution from horse-drawn carriages to autonomous vehicles. While the core function remains the same – transporting individuals from point A to point B – the sophistication, intelligence, and efficiency have evolved exponentially. This new ACD (AI, Cloud, and Digital services) represents not just an evolution, but a revolution in the contact center industry. As Steve Jobs succinctly put it, "Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower." As we transition into this new era of ACD, the choice lies before us - to lead with AI, Cloud, and Digital services, or to follow in the footsteps of others. And isn't it more rewarding to carve a new path than tread on one already paved?

Imagine you're in a bustling food market. Each vendor, with their unique aroma and flavor, represents a different channel of customer interaction - calls, emails, social media, and so forth. Customers wander freely, sampling from different vendors, their experience at each contributing to their overall impression of the market. Now, imagine you could ensure that each customer receives prompt service, expert recommendations, and satisfying meals, regardless of the vendor they choose. That's what modern Contact Center systems, powered by AI, Cloud, and Digital services, promise. They orchestrate all these channels, ensuring a delightful experience at each touchpoint and enhancing the overall customer journey.

To say that AI, Cloud and Digital is transforming the contact center industry would be an understatement. Combined, they are a dynamic and powerful force, reshaping the very foundation of customer service, setting new standards for efficiency, personalization, and innovation.

As we embrace this transformation, we should step into the future of contact centers with confidence and optimism. After all, in the words of the great inventor Alan Kay, "The best way to predict the future is to invent it." And in this new ACD era, we have the tools to invent a future that not only meets but exceeds our customers' expectations and redefines what's possible in customer service.

NOTE: Please be sure to join me at Avaya Engage 2023 in Orlando where we will discuss concepts like these further on the main stage and in the many exciting breakout sessions.  I look forward to seeing everyone there!

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