Google pressed deeper into the contact center market today, releasing its own platform after years of integrating its services with other technology providers.
Called the Google Contact Center AI Platform, the contact center as a service (CCaaS) is still, technically, executed with a partnership. Ujet, a CCaaS vendor, provides the telephony, SMS texting, connections to messaging apps such as Facebook and WhatsApp, as well as interactive voice response.
The platform will include contact-specific tools such as AI-powered call routing and workforce management features such as automated scheduling. Also, like other CCaaS platforms such as Genesys have recently added, Google will build in customer journey orchestration tools with mobile software development kits for iOS and Android to execute customer-facing apps.
According to Ujet COO Vasili Triant, Google chose to embed Ujet's omnichannel communications into its CCaaS because its in-house telephony technology wasn't purpose-built for contact centers and is more appropriate for helpdesk use.
Early adopters will likely be organizations that already use Google's Contact Center AI services, Triant said. He said the smallest user of the Google Contact Center AI Platform that he knows of has a contact center with 380 agents, with some users in the 15,000 to 20,000-agent range. Ujet will continue to serve customers on both the Microsoft Azure and AWS platforms, in addition to having its technology embedded in Google Contact Center AI Platform.
Long a player in contact center AI services, Google has partnered with other CCaaS platforms such as Genesys, Avaya, Vonage, Nice and many other companies over the years to combine its own service and forge full-platform offerings.
This release sounds like more of the same, said Dan Miller, co-founder of Opus Research. He noted, however, that the Google-Ujet platform claims some formidable blue-chip contact centers, including Home Depot, Deloitte and CDW. It appears to be Google's response to the coming challenge from Microsoft, which closed its nearly $20 billion acquisition of speech recognition juggernaut Nuance Communications earlier this month.
"It's a neat packaging by Google, because now they'll be going head-to-head, I think, most specifically against Microsoft," Miller said.
Google said it also plans to expand its Contact Center AI partnership with Salesforce Service Cloud Voice to create a unified agent console within Service Cloud.
Twilio combines chat, SMS, messaging into single API
The Google announcement was made at the Enterprise Connect communications technology conference. Developer-centric CCaaS vendor Twilio also said at the conference that it plans to release a public beta of its all-in-one Flex Conversations API, which encompasses voice, messaging, SMS and chat in one service, on March 30.
All of the services were available before as separate APIs; Flex Conversations simplifies user configuration with CCaaS platforms into a single pipe, said Simonetta Turek, general manager of Twilio customer experience products in a blog post. Many contact centers serve their various customer channels with a patchwork of APIs, and Twilio hopes to unify those channels in order to make it easier to manage customer experiences, she said.
The Flex Conversations API is more of a "necessity, not necessarily innovation," Miller said, because the functions it provides were all previously available. But users demand more simplified self-service resources so their in-house developers and IT staffers can build things once and "render appropriately" to users on web and mobile clients as needed, he concluded.
Don Fluckinger covers enterprise content management, CRM, marketing automation, e-commerce, customer service and enabling technologies for TechTarget.