Late Summer 2020 News
The days are getting shorter, the leaves are starting to change color. While “back to school season” is generally when vendors get in gear with new products and announcements, the end of summer has seen a good bit of activity.
New Partnerships for Genesys
Genesys recently announced several noteworthy new partnerships. The first is with Infosys, a $13B global IT company. As a part of this five-year partnership, Infosys will bring Genesys contact center solutions to market. With 1,500 customers worldwide (more than half being the world’s largest public companies), Infosys customers now have options to migrate to the cloud through Genesys. In addition, Infosys customers using other CX vendors can modernize their contact centers with Genesys’ Multicloud architecture and Genesys Cloud. The partnership will focus on digital transformation, CX (Infosys is building a practice jointly with Genesys), as well as AI, machine learning, and digital channels.
As CEO Tony Bates notes, “This announcement marks another significant Genesys partnership with industry leaders – including Microsoft, Google, AWS, Zoom, and now Infosys – that accelerate the delivery of our cloud-based customer experiences. These partnerships expand our presence and deliver our innovation to new customers, new markets, and new industries.”
One interesting aspect of this agreement is that Infosys will provide R&D, operations and product support of Genesys PureConnect. As a quick reminder, PureConnect is based on the Interactive Intelligence on-prem and hosted single-tenant cloud products. Genesys previously announced that it will no longer accept new PureConnect Cloud customers but remains committed to supporting existing PureConnect Cloud customers who will be able to continue to expand their deployments and add new capabilities, take advantage of hybrid services, or migrate to Genesys Cloud when the time is right. Genesys will retain and manage sales, overall product strategy ownership, marketing, customer success, education and professional services functions for PureConnect, while Infosys assumes responsibility for developing, delivering, and supporting enhancements.
By leveraging its expertise and tools for hosting, Infosys will support PureConnect from an R&D perspective to make enhancements to the PureConnect platform. Genesys notes that PureConnect customers will get faster access to innovation, as the partnership with Infosys ensures that development will continue on PureConnect. Genesys will be adding and extending PureConnect with hybrid capabilities such as AI, bots, predictive engagement, as well as Workforce Engagement Management (WEM) coming the second half of the year.
Customer relationship will not change, as customer account teams and success managers will remain the same.
As Barry O’Sullivan, executive vice president and general manager for Genesys Multicloud Solutions, notes, "In the last twelve months, our strategic partnerships all have something in common. Our partners are innovative, market leading, world-class companies that work together with Genesys to improve each other’s ability to deliver greater value at scale for customers across the globe. Today’s announcement with Infosys fits that pattern perfectly."
According to Guillaume Lardeux, SVP/GM of PureConnect, revenue from PureConnect is still strong and provides high margin, which will help fund other Genesys innovation.
Many of us who have been following Genesys for a long time assumed that the company would eventually stop supporting PureConnect and would eventually migrate existing customers to one of its other platforms. Based on the partnership with Infosys, it looks like there is still a future for PureConnect, ensuring customers that they have a roadmap to the future. As Infosys takes over R&D, responsibility for the data centers, and more, Genesys is able to focus its resources on its other platforms and technologies. To me, this is a win-win situation for Genesys, Infosys, and PureConnect customers.
Genesys also announced another strategic partner – Adobe, building on Genesys’ existing strategic partnerships with Microsoft, Google, AWS and Zoom. Genesys will be able to intelligently route calls, personalize workflows, and provide screen pops to agents based on Adobe Experience Platform profile data, providing more contextual information to agents. This integration can help provide organizations with a deeper understanding of customer context across every touchpoint.
Cisco Acquires BabbleLabs
Cisco announced its intent to acquire BabbleLabs, which provides noise removal and speech enhancement technology to improve the video meeting experience. Whether barking dogs, lawnmowers, or other background noise, BabbleLabs’ AI technology can distinguish unwanted noise from human speech, enhancing the communication and meeting experience. Starting with Webex, Cisco will eventually bring BabbleLabs’ noise removal capability to its entire Collaboration portfolio.
In a call with industry analysts, Jeetu Patel, SVP & GM, Security & Applications, noted that working from anywhere creates distractions due to noise, which takes away from the quality of the interaction. Cisco is working on making the Webex experience 10X better than in-person interactions, which requires optimizing audio and sound quality to help people focus on listening without being distracted.
BabbleLabs technology provides the ability to distinguish between human voice and background noise, enhances the voice itself, and removes background noise. Patel stated that all the processing will be done locally to ensure security and privacy. The noise removal and speech enhancing technology will be made available in the Webex experience at no extra cost this fall. Patel noted that the technology is open with open APIs and that the engineering teams have already been working together.
While most people have been forgiving and understanding when it comes to background noise during web- and video-based meetings over the past few months, the fact of the matter is that, even for dog lovers, these distractions can be annoying and disruptive. Cisco’s acquisition of BabbleLabs and its AI technology to reduce background noise should improve the meeting experience and reduce frustration for all participants.
Netfortris Launches Comm-unity
NetFortis is launching Comm-unity, the first joint UCaaS solution from NetFortris and Fonality, which it acquired in 2017. Fonality was one of the early players in UCaaS, but we haven’t been hearing as much about them since the acquisition – until now. Combining NetFortris’ carrier-class telephony with Fonality’s UC development expertise, Comm-unity unifies (pun intended) calls, chats, texts, emails, web meetings, conferencing, and call center on one platform. Comm-unity includes more than 100 phone features plus UC functionality including presence, video calling, file sharing, fax, audio conferencing, and more.
As mentioned, Fonality was a relatively early UCaaS player, and some may consider its asterisk-based solution technology to be “first generation.” That’s no longer the case. Using containerization and microservice technologies, Netfortis completely rebuilt the Comm-unity platform from the ground up to provide a multitenant and scalable cloud solution. Using georedundant data centers, NetFortris Comm-unity is delivered over a private, carrier-grade nationwide MPLS network. One thing that sets Netfortris apart from some of its UCaaS competitors is this MPLS network and the ability to offer redundant broadband connectivity using SD-WAN to its fiber backbone with 42 points of presence (PoPs) around the world.
One of Fonality’s claims to fame has always been its Heads Up Display user interface, or HUD. The updated Comm-unity features the next generation of Fonality’s HUD called myHUD Desktop and myHUD Mobile.
While aimed more at SMBs, NetFortris notes that Comm-unity can meet the needs of small and large enterprises as they grow.
Dialpad Acquires Highfive
Hot off the presses, Dialpad, the UCaaS and CCaaS company behind the conferencing service UberConference, announced its acquisition of video conferencing provider HighFive.
Many of us in the industry had been wondering who would acquire Highfive, as it is one of the very few remaining independent video conferencing providers. I’m glad to see the company get a good home with Dialpad.
Dialpad has been evolving as the workplace evolves – to a full-featured platform with business phone service (Dialpad Talk), audio and video conferencing (UberConference), contact center (Dialpad Contact Center), real-time AI (VoiceAI), and other capabilities. While Dialpad initially was most used by customers of Google Apps, it has expanded beyond that niche and provides integration with Microsoft Office 365, Salesforce, Zendesk, and others.
Dialpad has its own video conferencing capabilities, but the acquisition of Highfive provides additional capabilities, including, as Highfive CEO Joe Manuele notes, “The ability to connect rooms, interoperate with other video services with our Meeting Connector technology, and legacy device support with our Room Connector.” Highfive was born in the cloud and its WebRTC-based platform runs on AWS. The company experienced record usage since the COVID-19 lockdown, and has been enhancing the platform’s features and capabilities, including adding Moderated Meetings and Show Everyone capabilities that let participants see up to 12 people simultaneously on screen.
As Dialpad founder and CEO Craig Walker told me, “One day (hopefully not too far off) there will be people working in offices again, and being able to collaborate with remote co-workers from any huddle or conference room will be key. The HighfiveHQ room technology is amazing.”
Vonage Enhances Contact Center
Vonage has been busy enhancing its Vonage Contact Center with new capabilities, including:
- Integration with Microsoft Dynamics 365, providing an embedded experience for agents, within a single, unified interface that provides screen-pops, click-to-dial, dynamic routing on any Dynamics data, auto-logging of data into Dynamics, as well as key performance metrics and analytics.
- Vonage Agent Connect, providing Microsoft Teams Direct Routing to route calls from Vonage Contact Center to Microsoft Teams.
- Live Chat functionality as part of its omnichannel offering, with all interactions fully integrated and managed in one place. While chat was previously offered, the omnichannel capabilities create a more consistent user experience across channels. Within Vonage’s ContactPad (Agent Interface) every active interaction is displayed, including a blend of all the channels that the agent services.
- PCI Self Service Secure Payments through Vonage’s self-service IVR.
- Vonage AI Virtual Assistant seamlessly integrated with Vonage Contact Center.
It’s good to see Vonage more tightly integrate with Microsoft, as co-opetition is key, and partnering with Microsoft is essential in today’s market. Vonage also clearly realizes that integrations with CRM vendors is critical for contact center providers, and the addition of Microsoft Dynamics 365, in addition to existing integrations with Salesforce and ServiceNow, will help the company better serve the needs of more customers.
Summing It Up
As you can see, many of the business communication vendors didn’t have the “summertime blues” and were busy enhancing their products, initiating partnership deals, and moving forward. I can’t wait to see what autumn will bring!