Enterprise Connect 2023

Enterprise Connect 2023 – All Abuzz About AI

4 Apr 2023

By now you’ve read several articles about Enterprise Connect 2023, and perhaps even watched some of the keynote sessions presented by AWS, Cisco, Google, Microsoft, and RingCentral.

As usual, my schedule consisted of back-to-back-to-back vendor meetings and briefings, with very little time to explore the show floor or attend sessions. I was only able to attend a small number of keynotes and sessions, and look forward to watching the recordings when they’re posted. Unfortunately, I only had a chance to do video interviews with a very small number of vendors due to the lack of time between and during meetings.

AI Was Hot, Hot, Hot

“Buzzword Bingo” at Enterprise Connect was pretty easy this year – AI, OpenAI, Generative AI, ChatGPT, conversational AI, with a bonus point for contact center/CCaaS. Unified communications (UC) and UCaaS seemed to have taken a back seat to contact center, customer experience, and CCaaS this year, with the focus on how AI technologies are providing capabilities to enhance the customer and agent experience.

The primary use cases discussed most frequently include:

  • Agent Assist – using AI to provide customer service agents with suggested responses, knowledge articles, next-best actions, and guidance to best serve customers in real time
  • Conversational AI - providing the ability for customers to use voice or text to interact in a natural way with live or virtual agents
  • Interaction summarization and wrap up – automatically summarizing the customer interaction without the need for the agent to do so manually
  • Automated responses for email, chat, and other customer interactions – automatically generate personalized responses for agents to respond to customers
  • Chatbot creation – using ChatGPT to more quickly create chatbots

Almost every vendor briefing I had at Enterprise Connect included a discussion on AI, how it’s being used, and the value-add that the vendor brings to the table. The general consensus is that while ChatGPT provides significant capabilities, it is a generic large language model (LLM) that is prone to make mistakes. Additionally, it doesn't have the necessary data or the knowledge needed in customer service use cases to help customers solve specific issues with products or brands. Each vendor I spoke with noted that they add their own “secret sauce,” and provide training on its own data sets and customers' data in order to fine tune the generative models to best serve customer needs.

There was no shortage of AI-related contact center/CCaaS announcements at Enterprise Connect. Here’s just a sample:

  • Cresta announced several enhancements to its Real Time Intelligence Platform, including Topic Discovery, Intent Modeling, Flow Modeling, and Automated Labeling. The company also announced the Cresta Sales for Revenue Growth solution.

In this video interview, Cresta CMO Scott Kolman discusses how Cresta uses generative AI, and then drills down into their new announcements, including the Cresta for Sales offering, the post-call offering, and general platform enhancements.

  • Cognigy announced several new partnerships, enabling contact center providers to leverage Cognigy’s conversational AI solutions. Avaya will integrate Cognigy AI in its Experience Platform, and Cognigy AI will be available as a Premium Application in the Genesys AppFoundry. Cognigy also announced a new partnership with Germany-based Foundever to create end-to-end conversational solutions.
  • Edify introduced Special Agent Bundles, packaged contact center S/DaaS (software/device as a service) solutions that deliver enterprise communications capabilities packaged with Google ChromeOS for a single per-user-per-day price. In this video interview, Edify CMO Candace Sheitelman provides information on these new bundles.

  • Five9 announced Agent Assist 2.0 with AI Summary. Based on OpenAI’s generative AI, it can summarize customer call transcripts, transcribe the call and analyze the transcript to assist the agent in handling the call.
  • Genesys introduced GCXNow, a new automated try/buy/expand experience on Genesys Cloud CX enabling small- to mid-sized organizations to easily try out and purchase a full-featured CCaaS solution. It features a free 30-day automated self-service trial including: call routing, analytics, reporting, quality monitoring, digital channels​​, and chat and voice bots​, and more.
  • NICE announced Enlighten Actions, an AI-based solution that uses generative AI and specialized AI models to generate actionable outputs and curate intelligent responses to business inquiries. In this video, NICE CX President Barry Cooper discusses Enlighten Actions and how generative AI can be used in contact centers.

  • UJET launched UJET WFM, a native workforce management (WFM) solution for forecasting, scheduling, and real-time adherence monitoring, in partnership with Google Cloud.
  • Verint is integrating its Customer Engagement Platform with Google Cloud's Contact Center AI. Through this collaboration, Verint delivers a unified, open platform with out-of-the-box integrations driven by AI, enabling the Verint CX automation solutions to be integrated with the Google CCAI platform.
  • Zoom will be integrating Calabrio’s workforce management solution into Zoom Contact Center to provide AI-powered forecasting and automated, multi-skill scheduling, self-scheduling via mobile app, and more.

I also had a chance to speak with Ed Margulies, CEO of Thrio, who discusses Thrio’s CCaaS offering that it sells as a white label OEM offering, its AI capabilities, and the company’s passion for contact centers and its customers.

There were also non-AI-related announcements. For example:

  • Lumen will be partnering with Talkdesk to provide Talkdesk CCaaS to its customers. In addition to its Genesys Cloud CX offering, Lumen will now make Talkdesk CCaaS available to customers.
  • Twilio introduced Segment Unify, a consumer-scale real-time identity resolution solution. Segment Unify lets businesses merge the complete history of each customer into a single unified profile. Segment Unify tracks every interaction in real time to provide a better understanding of customer behavior as it evolves in real-time across web, mobile, server, and other applications.

AI and UCaaS

Of course, AI is also being used to help improve unified communications and collaboration. AI for video collaboration isn’t new – it’s been used for virtual backgrounds and background noise reduction for several years. With OpenAI and ChatGPT, vendors are introducing even more capabilities.

Here are some of the key AI-related UC and collaboration announcements from Enterprise Connect:

  • Bandwidth’s new Maestro cloud communications platform lets organizations integrate voice apps across cloud unified communications, contact center, and AI platforms. Bandwidth Maestro is an open platform that lets customers choose their UCaaS or CCaaS provider and add in advanced capabilities such as conversational AI, machine learning-based fraud detection, and text-to-speech/speech-to-text tools.
  • Cisco added new Cisco Webex audio intelligence and video intelligence capabilities, including a Cinematic Meetings feature that enables the camera to track meeting participants, Super Resolution to deliver high-definition meetings without high-definition bandwidth, Meeting Zones to define a visual perimeter for a meeting in order to focus only on people within that perimeter, and more.
  • Microsoft showed off its totally revamped Microsoft Teams app, with intelligent recap and the AI-enabled Copilot for Teams. Copilot for Teams combines LLM with customer data in MS Graph and 365 apps, and is accessed through natural language to perform a wide variety of functions including meeting summarization, note taking, capturing action items, and highlighting the important points made in meetings.
  • RingCentral introduced RingSense for Sales, the first iteration of RingSense, a conversation intelligence platform leveraging RingCentral’s native generative AI to automate workflows, unearth insights and upskill employees. RingSense for Sales analyzes interactions among salespeople and their prospects to surface key insights and performance measures, helping them increase their sales efficiency.
  • Unified Office announced its new Alexa-powered AI-based Performance Notifications Suite, integrating Alexa-powered voice assistant capabilities into Unified Office’s AI-based notifications platform. It links Alexa’s voice assistant capabilities to Unified Office’s business communications, AI, and IoT capabilities to provide timely delivery of mission critical notifications.
  • Vonage announced its AI Acceleration Suite, a portfolio of AI-capable, low-code/no-code programmable components to speed application development of applications using Vonage Communications APIs for voice, video, SMS and messaging.
  • Zoom expanded Zoom IQ with LLM capabilities and OpenAI collaboration to summarize meetings, provide meeting recaps, draft content for chats, emails, and whiteboard sessions, create meeting agendas, and more. In addition, Zoom’s new Intelligent Director uses multiple cameras in a Zoom Room to provide the best angle for participants.

While AI stole the show, not everything was about AI. Poly showed off it’s very cool new Voyager Free 60 Series of earbuds. The Poly Voyager Free 60+ UC version features a touchscreen charge case that let users control call status and volume, and includes a USB to a 3.5 mm audio cable that connects to in-flight entertainment systems. In this video, Richard Kenny, Voice Solutions Product Marketing at Poly, gives an overview of the earbuds and charge case.

I also spoke with Jason Kerr, CEO of Spoke Phone, a company that brings a unified back-office voice platform to Twilio Flex and enables back-office employees to have the same information and conversations as front-office contact center agents using Twilio Flex. In this video interview, Jason discusses what Spoke Phone does and gives a demonstration of Spoke Phone’s mobile capabilities.

UCaaS and CCaaS

Another key topic repeatedly mentioned at the conference was the integration of UCaaS and CCaaS. One presenter noted that we don’t need to evangelize about this anymore, as both vendors and customers acknowledge the importance of integrated UCaaS and CCaaS and are quickly moving in this direction.

I had the opportunity to moderate a session on "UCaaS Plus CCaaS: What are the Use Cases, Where are the Hurdles?" We had a great panel discussion with John Antanaitis (Vonage), Jack Nichols (Genesys), Ashish Seth (RingCentral), and Joe Walsh (GoTo), discussing the use cases, benefits, challenges, and steps to get started. Expect to hear more on this topic as the types of use cases for integrated UCaaS/CCaaS continue to grow.

AI Expectations

While AI in general, and generative AI in particular, were the hot topics at Enterprise Connect, we’re in the very, very early days and will have to see how well generative AI and large language models perform in real-life deployments. Generative AI is extremely promising, but there are many hurdles to overcome before we see it live up to its potential. I expect to see lots of bad deployments before most organizations get it right.

By next year’s Enterprise Connect, I expect many of the niche or smaller AI companies that were at the event to be acquired and gobbled up by larger players, especially the CCaaS vendors. Vendor consolidation is definitely on the horizon as UC and contact center vendors go on buying sprees to add AI capabilities to their portfolios.

Summing it Up

All in all, it was a great Enterprise Connect, with lots of energy and announcements (and of course, evening receptions). Time to rest up!


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