A Tale of Three Conferences

A Tale of Three Conferences

14 Mar 2024

Conference season is in full swing, and in the past two weeks I attended three analyst summits – RingCentral, 8x8, and Five9. All three were in beautiful and unique venues, with fun activities and time for networking and socializing. There was no shortage of content, with tons of new announcements, roadmap insights, and customer testimonials.

One common theme throughout the events was NDA (non-disclosure agreement) information. Analyst events generally include a good amount of NDA information, including roadmap and strategy direction, as well as information on customer wins and quantitative market data, providing us with a better understanding of the vendors’ strategic and competitive positioning. On the downside, it makes it harder for us to tout (and tweet) the vendor and their offerings.

The other overarching common theme for the three events was the growing importance of contact center/CCaaS/CX. While Five9 started off as a pure-play CCaaS vendor, RingCentral and 8x8 started as unified communications or UCaaS vendors, with contact center capabilities added over time. As the UC market becomes more commoditized, with shrinking revenues and margins, the CCaaS/customer experience market has been gaining more momentum. Both RingCentral and 8x8 have focused increased attention on CCaaS, while all three companies highlight their expanding CX offerings.


RingCentral recently introduced RingCX, aimed at simple contact center use cases (note that RingCentral continues to partner with NICE for customers that need a full-blown, feature-rich contact center solution). RingCX is powered by RingSense, RingCentral’s AI platform, providing a range of AI capabilities, including auto summaries, auto scoring, streamlined coaching, actionable insights, and more. RingCentral announced its own Workforce Engagement Management (WEM) capabilities starting with native AI-first Quality Management and Conversation Analytics via RingSense AI, providing advanced workforce management, including agent scheduling and forecasting, as well as post-call automated scoring, coaching, and performance management for supervisors.

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RingCentral is using RingSense to expand the customer segments served by delivering intelligence across the platform to unify siloed functions, while supporting marketing, sales, and service. RingCentral will help employee experience and customer experience come together, with AI infused into every facet of communication. The company notes that it is going beyond unified communications to “unified experiences and intelligence across the enterprise,” as the next decade of enterprise workflows will be defined by conversations and conversation intelligence. The RingSense AI platform will turn every conversation into a catalyst for growth, with smarter conversations and happier customers.

RingCentral will be announcing many more AI-based CX products during Chief Innovation Officer Kira Makagon’s keynote address at Enterprise Connect.


8x8 introduced the term XCaaS a couple years ago, highlighting its unified platform for UC and contact center, but is now pivoting towards customer support and CX.

During its analyst event, 8x8 introduced 8x8 Engage (currently in beta), aimed at informal contact centers and customer-facing employees outside of the contact center, offering features such as queuing, AI bots, quality monitoring, and more. As CEO Sam Wilson explained, 8x8 Engage isn’t as feature rich as full-blown CCaaS offerings, but instead has a different set of features built for a different use case, enabling non-agents to deliver exceptional CX.

I was especially thrilled to hear about 8x8 Engage and how 8x8 recognizes that customer experience is an organization-wide responsibility and is everyone’s job. I’ve been talking and writing about this for years, noting that workers in human resources, marketing, finance, and even engineering, as well as retail workers, nurses, and others, often engage with customers and need the right tools for routing, queueing, recording, reporting, analytics, quality management, and more.

In addition to Engage, 8x8 also announced Proactive Outreach, which natively leverages CPaaS programmable SMS and WhatsApp capabilities, and Customer Interaction Data Platform, to capture and analyze data on one platform to enable smarter decision making for customer-facing teams.

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The company’s new strategy is to become the leading AI-powered customer engagement platform, with intentionally-engineered solutions that bridge the CX gaps across organizations. It will do this by combining UCaaS, CCaaS, and CPaaS components with journey data and a curated ecosystem of partners.


Five9 was an early cloud contact player and is a leading CCaaS player with its Intelligent CX Platform. The company emphasizes that “It’s our people and the relationships they bring to our customer engagements that create our true CX difference,” and CEO Mike Burkland noted that Five9 is “passionate about driving the success of our customers.” Every company says that their success is based on their people, but I believe that this really is the case with Five9. After spending a couple days with the Five9 team, I walked away with insights not just about the company’s products, but about the Five9 team – from the CEO, through to sales, marketing, operations, R&D, and more.

Without divulging any NDA information, what I can say is that Five9 has done a great job in terms of moving upmarket, growing with key partners, and international expansion (hat tip to Dan Burkland, President & CRO, Jake Butterbaugh, SVP Partners, and Nick Delis, SVP International Sales). In addition to its Customer Success Team, Five9 added a Partner Success Team to provide value to both Five9 and its partners. And speaking of its Customer Success Team, Andy Dignan, Chief Operating Officer, explained how the company’s professional services teams focus on delivering enterprise and AI excellence, resulting in very impressive Net Promoter Scores. One of the Five9 customers we heard from during a customer panel noted, “Five9 delivers on client services – Andy’s team is the best in the industry.”

As expected, we spent a good amount of time discussing AI and hearing about how Five9 is differentiating itself from other vendors. Mike Burkland noted that what sets Five9 apart is its trusted CX platform, leading AI portfolio, and customer-first culture. The company had a good head start based on its Inference acquisition several years ago, and has added significant AI capabilities, including Intelligent Virtual Agents (IVAs), Chatbots, Agent Assist Guidance, Agent Assist AI Summaries, and Workflow Automation, with much more to come. Five9 did several demonstrations of its new AI capabilities, highlighting how easy it is to use contextual and interaction data to create trusted business outcomes.

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I left even more confident that Five9 is a formidable competitor in CX and is changing the game with AI – a core strength of theirs.

Summing it Up

There was A LOT more covered at these events, but as mentioned, much of the discussions were under NDA. Expect to hear more on CX, AI, WEM, and other acronyms in the coming months.

And here are some photos of the fun analyst experiences at these events.

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Sunrise kayaking in Cabo, courtesy of Five9

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A tour of the San Diego Zoo, courtesy of 8x8

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Wine blending at Clos la Chance Winery, courtesy of RingCentral


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