This content is part of the Conference Coverage: Everything Enterprise Connect 2024: News, trends and insights

Talkdesk releases on-prem AI contact center automation suite

Contact center as a service users have a leg up on generative AI integrations because of the nature of cloud infrastructure, but on-premises customer service will get theirs.

Talkdesk released Ascend Connect, a cloud services package for contact centers that haven't moved to cloud software and have been missing out on the generative AI revolution.

Though cloud software is popular among contact centers, many continue to use on-premises tech. TechTarget's Enterprise Strategy Group's "The Impact of Evolving Work Environments on Contact Center Platform Requirements" report, released earlier this month, indicated that 25% of contact centers are still fully on-premises and 56% use hybrid on-premises and cloud components.

Talkdesk's new suite for those contact centers, released in conjunction with Enterprise Connect 2024, includes Talkdesk Autopilot, a contact center automation platform for workflows and chatbots; Talkdesk Copilot, agent assist tools; Talkdesk Interaction Analytics; and Talkdesk AI Trainer.

The idea, said Talkdesk vice president of product marketing Crystal Miceli, is to enable on-premises contact centers to use generative AI for workforce management, automate self-service for their customers when possible, and give agents tools that allow them to work faster. Things that contact center as a service (CCaaS) users might be able to simply switch on in their accounts aren't so straightforward at on-prem contact centers. Ascend Connect aspires to provide integration tools and access to large language models (LLMs).

Talkdesk's strategy is to offer on-premises contact centers an entrée into the world of generative AI (GenAI) tools that promise to improve agents' efficiency without a total revamp of their IT infrastructure. That, in turn, will position the company to have opportunities to land enterprise deals when these on-premises contact centers move into the cloud and shop for CCaaS systems.

"It is a very smart and straightforward strategy to do it that way," Forrester Research analyst Max Ball said. "I think even [contact centers that] are comfortable with CCaaS might be a little scared about some of the conversational stuff in the cloud -- or at least associating their data with it."

Contact center automation with GenAI

Talkdesk built Ascend Connect with the Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service LLM. The company overall has focused on serving customers in the retail, healthcare, finance and banking vertical markets in the past few years, said Rei Kasai, Talkdesk senior vice president and global head of product.

While Azure OpenAI provides the model, Talkdesk's cloud is molded to the language, workflows, data security and compliance needs of those industries. Highly regulated industries might have been concerned with data security up to a few years ago, but total cost of ownership is the main deciding factor for contact centers considering big cloud migrations, Kasai said.

Moreover, some contact centers plan to undergo multi-year cloud migrations when their on-premises technologies become obsolete.

"Many of those customers want to modernize," Kasai said. "But they also know that sometimes they can't just rip and replace their infrastructure that they've invested in."

An explanation of on-premises vs. cloud contact centers.

Contact center agents are one of the jobs researchers believe are ripe for replacement by AI bots. But vendors such as Talkdesk and its competitors believe that the human agent's job -- under pressure to meet metrics such as how quickly they solve problems and how frequently they solve problems the first time the customer calls -- will embrace the efficiency that GenAI can bring.

AI can summarize long knowledgebase articles into a concise explanation, so an agent doesn't have to search through it, or log after-call reports automatically -- and more accurately -- instead of the agent taking time to do it themselves. That saves time for agents to better hit their metrics.

"No one's going to turn down information that's relevant to the task you're trying to complete that's being served up to you in real time so that you can do it better," Miceli said. "No one's going to say, 'I'm going to do it the hard way. I'm going to do a craftsman approach to doing this role rather than the automated thing.'"

Don Fluckinger is a senior news writer for TechTarget Editorial. He covers customer experience, digital experience management and end-user computing. Got a tip? Email him.

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