During a keynote address at Enterprise Connect 2017 in Orlando, Florida, on March 28, Amazon VPs Gene Farrell and Tom Weiland announced the company was entering the customer engagement marketplace with a cloud-based, internally developed contact center offering called Amazon Connect. While this was not a surprise to many, it is indicative of how much the industry has changed.
An important partner to many is now a competitor
Amazon has been getting more involved in the cloud contact center industry as an infrastructure provider via its Amazon Web Services, which provides the data center infrastructure for a growing number of contact center-as-a-service (CCaaS) providers, including Interactive Intelligence (now Genesys) and inContact (part of NICE Systems). But this is the company’s initial offering in the CCaaS applications area. Many internal Amazon groups and subsidiaries have used Amazon Connect for several years to facilitate customer care activities, the Amazon representatives revealed, and the offering was made generally available upon the announcement at Enterprise Connect.
Amazon describes Amazon Connect as a simple-to-use, self-service, cloud-based contact center service. It can be set up in minutes and configured using a graphical interface to design contact flows, manage agents, and track performance metrics. Basic functionality includes skills-based routing, high-quality audio, real-time and historical metrics, and prebuilt integrations with major CRM products such as Salesforce, Zendesk, and Zoho. However, somewhat surprisingly, it is a voice-only solution in a world increasingly turning to omnichannel options.
The development of the Amazon Connect offering sprang out of Amazon’s own requirements for a simple contact center solution that would meet the demanding needs of its internal customer engagement practices, according to the company. Competitive offerings of the time were seen as very complex, multivendor, component-heavy solutions that were encumbered with complicated pricing and long-term commitments. Amazon chose to develop its own solution, which has now been thoroughly tested and used internally at the company for several years. It was a natural next step to offer the software to companies outside the Amazon circle of companies.
We believe the Amazon announcement will further stimulate an already actively competitive market, as well as quickly convert several Amazon partners into competitors, further complicating some business relationships and an already intricate market.
Ken Landoline, Principal Analyst, Customer Experience