Life is Like a Camel – What I Learned at the NICE Analyst Summit
I recently attended NICE’s analyst summit in Marrakech, Morocco, and it was one of the most memorable analyst events I’ve ever attended (and I’ve attended A LOT!). In addition to camel rides, shopping, amazing food, solving a murder mystery through the Medina and main square (where I successfully avoided the snake charmers thanks to the help of our incredibly thoughtful hosts), we heard from NICE executives about the company’s progress, products, and vision for the future. It was gratifying to hear NICE solidify the vision that was laid out to the analysts last year and the progress that’s been made.
Solving a murder mystery at the Marrakech medina (the original walled city)
After a quick Arabic lesson to kick off the event, NICE CEO Barak Eilam provided a financial update, highlighting the company’s solid financial footing. In the past year NICE experienced the fastest growth in the company’s history, with record profitability and growth across all businesses and geographies, while more than doubling its business outside of the U.S.
Eilam went on to explain that we’re entering a new era, with several events that will shape the next 15-20 years. The drying up of the “free capital well,” will impact the rate of innovation, along with a worker shortage changing the workforce paradigm, a digital supply chain void, and out-of-control complexity for running a large enterprise at scale, will all create a great opportunity for enterprise software (and companies like NICE).
This all sets the stage for CX in the new era. Eilam introduced the term “Suiteform,” illustrating how NICE provides the completeness of a suite delivered on a unified platform (CXone). With this approach, customers can access NICE’s comprehensive suite of capabilities, while also integrating and interoperating with other applications they may already be using.
Eilam then discussed NICE’s vision for this new era - driving CX fluency with CXi, or customer experience interactions. CXi is the term NICE uses to describe “a new market category that stretches CX beyond the traditional boundaries of the contact center to create frictionless experiences for consumers and is enabled by CXone as its platform.” With CXi organizations can intelligently meet customers wherever their journey begins, enabling resolution through data-driven conversational AI and enabling agents to successfully resolve any customer needs event.
Next up was Paul Jarman, NICE CXone CEO, who explained, “CXone is our platform and is used to achieve CXi and great CX,” adding, “Our goal is to create fluent CX with our CXone platform. The term CCaaS isn’t appropriate for where the market needs to go, so that’s why we created CXi.”
Jarman described the components of a CXi fluent journey, including:
- Digital entry points, providing a smart start to every customer’s journey, including Google search, a mobile app, etc.
- Journey orchestration to seamlessly guide customer journeys
- Smart self-service that works every time
- Empowered agents, utilizing real-time help for fast personalized interactions
- Complete performance for the entire journey, with continuously improved experiences and operations
He then explained how NICE provides a complete toolset for great self-service, based on these key concepts and capabilities:
- Proact: preventing the need for the customer to contact a business
- Pre-empt: pre-empting the customer engaging an agent with tools like CXone Expert and Guide
- Automate - maximizing automation to reduce the need for a human agent by using tools like SmartAssist and Virtual Agent Hub
- Empowered Agent - delivering fast and efficient agent interactions with tools like Agent Assist to manage agent applications
Underlying all of this is NICE Enlighten AI to provide intelligence to all self-service applications so they perform like the best human agent.
In this video interview, Jarman expands on CXi and discusses the role of knowledge to proact and pre-empt.
(Note: Subsequent to the analyst event, NICE introduced NICE FluenCX, an integrated suite of digital customer experience tools including ContactEngine, CXone Guide, CXone SmartAssist, CXoneExpert, CXone Digital Channels, all powered by Enlighten AI, to “enable organizations to provide service beyond the contact center, meet customers where their journeys begin, and surpass expectations by meeting customers at any touchpoint, anytime, anywhere—and integrating with any CX provider’s platform – wrapping all interactions, reporting, and analytics into a single cohesive experience.”)
AI to Identify Intent
The role of customer intent was a key topic throughout the event. When I asked NICE CMO Einat Weiss about the key take-aways from the summit, she emphasized how NICE differentiates itself based on understanding customer intent. NICE is leveraging its various AI tools and capabilities to understand intent based on analyzing millions and millions of interactions.
Enlighten Journey Orchestration
Digging deeper into the concept of understanding customer intent, Barry Cooper, President of Workforce Engagement and Customer Experience, introduced Enlighten Journey Orchestration, which drives and manages synchronous and asynchronous interactions to create actionable derived data based on understanding the customer needs events and orchestrate all the events in order to resolve the customer issue.
When it comes to leveraging AI and automation to understand customer intent in real time, there’s a great deal that happens behind the scene. This is much more difficult than it appears, as there are so many different ways of saying things and the AI system needs to determine what the customer is really trying to do in order to identify intent.
I spoke with Cooper about Enlighten Journey Orchestration and some of the AI magic that makes this possible.
Using Knowledge to Proact, Pre-empt
What stood out the most to me and what seems to set NICE apart is the use of knowledge and intelligence throughout the interaction, including digital entry points outside of the contact center such as a Google search. Eighty percent of interactions start outside of contact centers, including Google search and mobile apps. NICE realized that by being present at these early stages or initial digital entry points, they can better assist customers and provide smart self service and intelligently meet customers wherever their journey begins.
All contact center/CCaaS vendors talk about supporting multiple channels, providing context and customer history for seamless interactions, yada yada yada – but NICE is the only vendor I’ve heard talk about meeting the customer before the interaction hits the contact center. This really intrigued me. During the event we heard Dr. Mark Smith talk about “The Proactive Revolution” and the need to be proactive and pre-emptive before interactions take place. Smith noted that NICE can take control of an interaction by presenting the information the customer is most likely to need, as early as possible. Case in point - by placing the right piece of knowledge inside of Google, NICE CXone Expert was able to intercept 142 million Google searches.
During the event, Kevin Lee, Vice President, Global Head of Digital Sales and Strategy, ran through a live demo to show how NICE provides intelligence throughout the customer interaction, including SEO-optimized knowledge. In this video interview, he discusses how Enlighten XO can identify what to automate, and how to understand intents in order to build virtual agents based on the most effective conversations and agents.
At the end of summit, Eilam reiterated that we are on the verge of a new era, and NICE will be successful due to its financial viability, commitment, and innovation. He noted that with CXi as the new north star, NICE and its customers can be audacious together and drive a fluent customer experience.
And as Eilam reminded us, “life is like a camel - you can make it do anything, except back up.”
(Special kudos to the analyst relations and event teams for putting together such a memorable event – Shukran!)