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With cloud-based contact centers, one size does not fit all

Contact center cloud services are a fast-growing part of the SaaS market, a trend Mitel is responding to with its MiCloud Engage product that fills a gap in the company's portfolio.

The cloud has been part of business strategy for well over a decade, with almost every business unit looking to see how this new operating model can benefit them. One of the areas within most organizations that has lagged is the contact center, but that changed a couple of years ago. Contact centers as a service, or CCaaS, is now one of the fastest-growing segments of the overall SaaS market.

The primary driver of this shift to cloud-based contact centers has been to improve customer service with smarter, omnichannel services. Upgrading legacy, on-premises tools can be a lengthy, error-prone process if the business doesn't have the right IT skills. The contact center deals with customers, so it's not an area most businesses are willing to experiment with, as it could cause customer churn. The fastest way to move to a modernized contact center with the least risk is to shift to the cloud.

As is the case with most things in life, one size does not fit all. And that certainly is true with CCaaS offerings. Many points to consider when it comes to services that provide cloud-based contact centers include integration with unified communications (UC) systems, burst capabilities, API access, ability to customize and, of course, price of service.

To meet the demands of the diverse customer base, Mitel has released a new contact center offering targeted to enterprise-class customers.

Editor's note: Mitel is a past client of ZK Research.

I won't go into the details of the offering, as SearchUnifiedCommunications news writer Jonathan Dame did a nice job of that in this post. The article describes Mitel's three contact center offerings, and I'll provide customers with some guidance on how to think about the products and when to use what.

The new MiCloud Engage Contact Center is a SaaS-based, over-the-top product. Like most SaaS-based offerings, Engage is multi-tenanted, which provides customers security that their data won't be shared with any other customer. It offers businesses an omnichannel service, with data available via APIs, and it scales up to 5,000 agents.

Because the product is meant to be over-the-top, there is no requirement for UC integration enabling fast turnup. The downside is there is no ability to see the presence status of contact center agents or four digital dialing. This may be a requirement for some enterprises, but it isn't for all of them.

Lastly, Engage also offers the ability to burst up and down, so seasonal companies like retailers and accountants can purchase what they need today, but rapidly add or remove seats as needed.

Mitel has an agreement with Serenova to use its technology in the MiCloud Engage product. Given that Serenova is one of the leading CCaaS suppliers, customers should be confident it's a well-tested platform with many existing customers. One of the aspects of the product I like most is that Serenova uses the AWS cloud, so it can spin up new instances quickly when required, regardless of location.

Over the next few years, the contact center industry and businesses will go through a massive transition in a move from on premises to the cloud-based contact centers.

What Mitel brings to the table is a large group of agents and cloud value-added resellers, professional services for implementation, tier-one and tier-two support, training and customer success. Mitel also owns the billing relationship, so if customers choose to migrate to Mitel UC later, they can deal with a single vendor.

Engage complements Mitel's two other product lines for cloud-based contact centers: MiCloud Flex and MiCloud Connect. Connect came to Mitel via the acquisition of ShoreTel and is integrated with UC. Flex is a fully omnichannel offering and is ideally suited for customers with up to 1,000 contact center agents that need some degree of customization.

Connect is similar to Flex in that it's an all-in-one UC cloud-based contact center offering, but it's meant for small businesses, as it scales up to only 100 agents. Also, while Flex can be customized, Connect is more turnkey, as it's meant for SMBs, where out-of-the-box products typically meet their needs. Small businesses want affordable products that are simple to purchase and use, and MiCloud Connect was designed with that in mind.

Over the next few years, the contact center industry and businesses will go through a massive transition in a move from on premises to the cloud-based contact centers. Businesses need to do their homework and pick the product or service that's right for their needs. Vendors need to prepare themselves by having a wide range of products that meet different requirements. The addition of MiCloud Engage fills a void for Mitel and gives it an option for large enterprises.

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