Edward Gately, Senior News Editor

November 21, 2023

20 Slides

Artificial intelligence (AI) and generative AI are revolutionizing the UCaaS and CCaaS industries.

Many use cases for AI are in the market now, such as speech to text, real-time transcription, real-time translation, smart framing for video and more. And new uses are hitting the market at a record pace.

Our latest CF20 is the first of a two-part series on vendors doing business in the channel that are making the most of AI. This first part covers the impact of AI on UCaaS and CCaaS providers.

According to Next Move Strategy Consulting, the market for AI is expected to show strong growth in the coming decade. Its value of nearly $100 billion is expected to grow twentyfold by 2030, up to nearly $2 trillion.

Many Use Cases for UCaaS, CCaaS Providers

Raul Castanon, senior research analyst at 451 Research, part of S&P Global Market Intelligence, said the market hype generated by ChatGPT and generative AI has raised awareness for the use of AI across a wide variety of use cases.

“According to 451 Research's 'Voice of the Enterprise: Customer Experience & Commerce, Vendor Selection 2023' survey, there is substantial business interest in leveraging generative AI,” he said. “The top generative AI use cases cited in our survey are data management and analysis of relationships to identify patterns (37%), automating routine tasks – also cited by 37% of respondents – and automating customer support responses (36%) and assisting customer service agents (31%). Furthermore, about one of four respondents (27%) plans to work with existing customer experience (CX) vendors, suggesting a considerable segment of the market prefers to leverage external expertise to expedite the adoption of machine learning (ML) and AI in their CX initiatives. These numbers highlight the different opportunities for the channel with AI.”

Related:OpenAI Drama Goes Big Over the Weekend, Microsoft Wins

Big AI Advances for CCaaS Providers

Jon Arnold, principal of J Arnold & Associates, said AI is being used in UCaaS to boost productivity and collaboration. And the most popular use in CCaaS is chatbots for self-service.

J Arnold & Associates' Jon Arnold

“The term conversational AI refers to how chatbots are better equipped to handle things like open-ended questions and being more conversational in the dialogue, which makes the participant, the customer, feel more inclined to talk more and communicate more in a self-serve mode, so things they normally would talk to an agent about,” he said. “So the more natural and human like that chatbot is, the more self-service it can handle. That's a good use case for the AI piece there. And of course for agents, they’re getting call summaries and transcripts generated automatically, which saves them a lot of time. Plus, it's a more complete capture of the dialogue. And there’s also this feature called AI assist that’s almost like having a little guy on your shoulder who leans over and says, 'This customer is maybe not as happy as you might think,' and it will suggest phrases or language, or tone that you could use that might be more appropriate for the situation.”

Related:Experts Weigh In On AI Prospect for Channel Partners

Another new feature in CCaaS is auto-suggest, which can help agents when facing an anxious moment or heated discussion with a customer, Arnold said.

“The agent might be just on the verge of typing something that says, 'Well, if you don't like that, that's just the way it is,' and the AI that's monitoring everything will say, 'Here's another way you could phrase this more delicately, more professionally and more empathetically,'” he said. “It’s not the little guy on your shoulder anymore. It's like this big genie behind you who's watching everything you're doing. But that can be very helpful, especially for rookies, the newer agents who don't know how to handle some situations. That's something the supervisor just can't manage. They can't babysit every call and step in. So that's the power of AI at scale. It can do it for every call.”

Rapidly Changing Market Landscape

Curt Franklin, principal analyst with Omdia, which shares a parent company with Channel Futures (Informa), said the market landscape for generative AI is changing rapidly.

Omdia's Curt Franklin

"One year ago there was one significant generative AI provider — OpenAI," he said. "Today, Alphabet and Microsoft have joined the general-purpose generative AI market, while Cohere, Anthropic and Jasper offer generative AI for specific purposes, and Hugging Face provides open-source support. Open-source tools are rapidly improving and generative AI of all types is becoming a possibility for an increasing number of organizations due to better tools, more economical AI models, and generative AI hosting support from companies like AWS.

Generative AI's use is expanding in nearly every market, Franklin said.

“The expansion is due to a number of factors,” he said. “One factor is customers asking vendors how they’re using the technology or what their plans are for its use. Another factor is the rapid increase in the number of options available for generative AI technology, which can be included in products and services. A third significant factor is the realization that, in many cases, the best use for generative AI is a targeted application with a limited model suitable for responding to very specific prompts.”

Based on feedback from analysts and recent news reports, we’ve compiled a list, in no particular order, of 20 UCaaS and CCaaS providers that are incorporating AI into their offerings. Our list above offers a mix of well-known providers as well as lesser-known companies that are making big strides in AI.

About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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