Contact Center WFO Solutions In the Future
The contact center WFO suite market has performed well in both good and challenging economic times. It has outperformed most other contact center IT segments during economic slowdowns and recessions because of its ability to reduce operating costs while improving the customer experience and enhancing agent engagement. It is not known how the contact center WFO suite market will perform during the coronavirus pandemic, as there is no precedent for this type of crisis. However, once companies stabilize and start investing in technology again, DMG expects a few of the WFO applications, specifically workforce management and speech analytics, to attract significant attention, due to their contributions and benefits in helping companies deal with COVID-19.
WFO Market Performance
The contact center suite market showed healthy growth in 2019. Total company GAAP revenue increased 6.3%, from $3,609.8 million in 2018 to $3,838.6 million in 2019. The contact center WFO segment, in particular, saw strong results in 2019. Contact center WFO revenue grew from $1,855.2 million in 2018 to $2,069.8 million in 2019, an increase of $214.6 million, or 11.6%. The contact center WFO segment hit a significant milestone in 2019, when this mature IT sector exceeded $2 billion in revenue for the first time.
Contact Center Transformation
It’s been an amazing few months for businesses, in general, and contact centers, in particular, due to the pandemic. Contact centers in many countries around the world showed their agility, as they sent all of their employees home to work. This was not a smooth transition, as in many cases it was done in a matter of days, without a formal business continuity plan for guidance, and frequently involved hundreds to thousands of employees. While the transition may not have been easy for many organizations, it occurred more cleanly than was anticipated. This shows the business world that contact centers, regardless of their size and complexity, are able to change quickly and are much more agile than previously thought. DMG hopes that executives and leaders will use the pandemic experience as an impetus to continue to make the necessary changes in their contact center operating environments, particularly with regard to the digital transformation.
The “New Normal”
Many folks are talking about the “new normal,” but no one seems to know what it is or will be. At the same time, it’s difficult to comprehend today’s reality, brought about by a previously unknown virus for which there is no known cure or vaccine. While many want the world to return to what it was before the coronavirus spread around the world at hyper-speed, others, including DMG, are looking forward to the positive changes that will result from the impacts of the pandemic. COVID-19 has taught us many things, including the need to be prepared for almost anything. Never before would rational beings have believed that social distancing would be the most effective method to avoid a potentially deadly virus, and that a pandemic would shut down economies around the world for months. Companies and their contact centers learned the hard way how important it is to have a well-developed work-at-home (WAH) program for agents, supervisors and managers. The contact centers that have performed the best in these difficult times are the ones that already had a business continuity (BC) plan that required their staff take their PCs and headsets home with them on a nightly basis and have the necessary bandwidth to support their contact center needs.
The Next Act
Many WFO capabilities are mature, but they have a future in traditional contact centers as well as the next-generation ones that will be much more agile and responsive to the needs of their enterprise clients and customers. There will be a “new normal” for contact centers. This will include significantly more WAH employees than there were prior to the pandemic. More contact centers will transition to contact-center-as-a-cloud (CCaaS) solutions and other cloud-based applications to gain the flexibility they want. Contact center leaders around the world have learned that they need to have a BC plan that can be implemented rapidly and securely, whether the threat is the return of a different strain of the coronavirus or something else.
Artificial intelligence (AI) will be instrumental in helping contact centers address their opportunities, even though AI has a long way to go before it delivers on its many promises. Today, machine learning (ML) capabilities are already helping companies identify the best way, and sometimes new approaches, to solve old problems. This technology is being applied to many of the WFO applications, including interaction analytics (IA), analytics-enabled quality management (AQM), workforce management (WFM), knowledge management (KM), and others.
It’s still early and too soon to accurately forecast the ultimate impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy, businesses and contact centers, but there are certain things that we do know. The first is that contact centers are more essential than ever, and while demand for alternative digital channels is strong and growing, the need to address voice transactions is great and will continue for years to come, as the phone remains the channel of choice in times of trouble and when emotions run high. Secondly, WFO solutions are going to come out of the pandemic with stronger demand than they went in. Lastly, the future of WFO applications will be based on three fundamental concepts in the technology market today: AI, analytics and automation.
DMG Consulting LLC is a leading independent research, advisory and consulting firm specializing in unified communications, contact centers, back-office and real-time analytics. Learn more at www.dmgconsult.com.