Five9, 8x8 and Dialpad accelerate push for contact center AI

Cloud contact center vendors are getting more aggressive about artificial intelligence. Five9, 8x8 and Dialpad made headlines this week with new contact center AI initiatives.

As new entrants crowd the contact center market, vendors are racing to differentiate their platforms through the use of artificial intelligence. Three cloud contact center players -- Five9, 8x8 and Dialpad -- made moves this week that provide insight into each vendor's AI roadmap.

Five9 and 8x8 both announced contact center AI initiatives related to intelligent call routing and context-rich customer engagement, while Dialpad acquired an AI-focused startup that makes speech recognition technology.

Vendors don't want to get left behind as use cases emerge for contact center AI, especially as new competitors like Twilio and Amazon enter the contact center market, said Jon Arnold, principal at Toronto-based research and analysis firm J Arnold & Associates.

Amid the flurry of contact center AI announcements, analysts are advising businesses to proceed with caution and ensure the technology works before deploying it more widely. 

"No one was talking about this stuff a year ago," Arnold said. "Most contact centers are so far away from being truly AI-driven. Everyone knows it's a journey."

Dialpad acquires TalkIQ for intelligent voice services

Cloud communications vendor Dialpad bought startup TalkIQ this week for its speech recognition and natural-language-processing technologies. Dialpad's products include cloud phone systems and call centers, as well as a web conferencing platform, UberConference.

Dialpad plans to add TalkIQ's technology to its call center product for sentiment analysis, identifying positive and negative communication signals from the customer. It will also provide real-time feedback and recommendations to customer service agents to help them assist customers.

In this video, see how contact center AI tools can analyze customer sentiment.

Dialpad announced plans to add automated call transcription to its suite of products. In addition to transcribing the entire call, the service can identify and highlight items mentioned during the conversation that require follow-up.

Dialpad will give paying customers access to a free trial of the new features on July 1.

Pursuing intelligent routing, customer engagement

Most contact centers are so far away from being truly AI-driven. Everyone knows it's a journey.
Jon Arnoldprincipal at J Arnold & Associates

8x8 and Five9 announced initiatives to deliver intelligent routing and context-rich customer engagement to their customers. 8x8 acquired startup MarianaIQ, while Five9 released an update to its portfolio.

Intelligent call routing uses AI to find the best match between customer and agent. The tool relies on information from a customer's past inquiries and internet footprint, as well as an agent's past successes and failures. Five9 has branded this feature Five9 Genius.

Earlier this spring, Avaya and Genesys launched initiatives to bring AI-driven call routing into the contact center. Genesys built a platform, Genesys Predictive Routing, while Avaya announced a partnership to make it easier for customers to use the services of Afiniti, an AI and analytics provider.

Five9 and 8x8 this week also highlighted efforts to give contact center agents quicker access to contextual information that could improve customer interactions, such as a customer's recent purchases and past contact center inquiries.

Five9 included the new contact center AI capabilities in its spring 2018 platform update, while 8x8 plans to include the AI features in its summer 2018 general release of its X Series platform.

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