Software-as-a-Service provider of voice, video, chat, contact centre and enterprise-class API solutions 8x8 announced this month that it had received a 2019 CRN Tech Innovator Award.
8x8 was recognised for its contact centre solution which includes ACD, IVR, omnichannel, dialer, reporting, customer journey analytics, quality management, speech analytics, surveys and knowledge base, all delivered on one unified platform.
In addition to receiving a 2019 CRN Tech Tech Innovator Award, 8x8 was recently named as a Challenger in Gartner’s 2019 Magic Quadrant for Contact Center as a Service, North America for the fifth consecutive year.
To learn more about 8x8’s views on the ongoing evolution of the cloud, Steve Nuttall, Head of CX Research at Fifth Quadrant recently sat down with Brendan Maree, 8x8 Vice President of Asia Pacific.
Opportunity or risk?
While Australian companies are migrating to the cloud ‘across the stack’, which is causing quite a lot of movement in the market, there is still a significant amount of caution.
“A lot of customers are risk averse when moving to the cloud,” Maree says. “But if you can address their concerns and help them understand how it will rollout, it will make it much easier.”
Nuttall notes that digital transformations are typically driven by either two key drivers.
“Some of the organisations we deal [with] have CEOs which are ultimately motivated by the opportunities digital transformation will bring to their business,” he says. “I think that contrasts with a different style of organisation where everything is about making sure they audit and control risks.”
Only by truly understanding what’s happening in their customers’ businesses, service providers can best alleviate some of the fears surrounding the move to the cloud, according to Maree.
“I’m not just talking about C-level but also the operational aspect,” he says.
For example in a contact centre, a service provider should be able to do a ‘chairside’ with their customer to see how the employees use applications and where the common pain points reside.
“You have vendors that will do all those processes for you and do a POC (proof of concept) but you also need one that will give you an SLA (service-level agreement) on voice quality,” he says.
The importance of voice quality and a unified solution
8x8 places great emphasis on voice quality because it so vital to the contact centre, improving both employee and customer experience.
“We understand voice,” he says. “We have been doing it for 20 years....we hear about telcos and software meshing, but I think people are going to get a big shock when they realise how difficult voice is.”
To this end, 8x8 touts itself as the first cloud communications provider to offer the ‘8x8 Performance Assured’ SLA, which guarantees 99.99% service availability with a voice call quality guarantee.
The company achieves this through a combination of patented innovations, distributed cluster architecture, data replication and core network redundancy.
In addition to voice quality, both Nuttall and Maree both stress the importance of a unified solution.
With 8x8’s Unified Communications Suite, customers have access to a range of solutions including business phone services, virtual meetings, video conferencing, mobile apps and visual voicemail.
Maree believes that vendors such as 8x8 which are able to marry the telco and software side of things are best placed to provide optimal employee and customer experiences.
“There’s a lot of churn in the contact centre,” he says. “People get tired of jumping between applications...it’s not a great EX.
By using a solution that covers the entire communication stack and integrates with ERP and CRM platforms, employees can get a complete view of what is happening which empowers them to provide greater CX.
“Alongside [high quality] voice you need to ensure that the applications all sit in one place as well,” Nuttall says. “Around 40 per cent of agent time is spent on trying to understand basic knowledge of a customer...because there isn’t that single source of truth available at the click of a finger.”
Maree says that 8x8 aims to be ‘a single system of engagement’ with ‘a single system of record’, meaning that various apps such as Salesforce, Netsuite and Bullhorn can be integrated seamlessly.
In addition to cost savings and operational improvements, mobility is a key benefit of shifting to the cloud, according to Maree and Nuttall.
Thanks to the cloud, employees are provided with the flexibility to work from anywhere if required, making it easier to have geographically distributed teams working across time zones.
“It’s about ‘right place right time’ and being able to deliver on the customers terms rather than when it suits the organisation,” Nuttall says.
8x8 reported strong results for the quarter ended September 30 2019. The company achieved total ARR (Annual Recurring Revenue) growth of 34% driven by mid-market and enterprise success, continued contributions from channel partners and its international operations.
8x8 believes this growth will continue as the market of over 350 million on-premise seats rapidly shifts to the cloud.
Despite the tendency for some companies to be risk averse, Maree says that Australian businesses ought to be commended for their willingness to take the ‘leap of faith’ required for such a digital transformation.
“In Australia and New Zealand it is far more prevalent to shift to the cloud than other parts of the world,” he says, adding that the relatively smaller size of companies here allows them to be more nimble than their global peers.
8x8 cloud solutions help businesses transform their customer and employee experience. With one system of engagement for voice, video, collaboration and contact centre and one system of intelligence on one technology platform, businesses can now communicate faster and smarter to exceed the speed of customer expectations. For additional information, visit www.8x8.com/au.