At Ignite 2020 today, Microsoft announced a new communication offering called Azure Communication Services that builds on Azure. Microsoft leverages the same network that Microsoft Teams supports so developers can add multimodal messaging to apps and websites while using services like Azure Cognitive Services for translation, sentiment analysis, and more.
With customer reps in India, the US and elsewhere having to work from home during the pandemic, companies are turning to managed solutions to fill the gaps in service. The platforms aren’t perfect, but COVID-19 has accelerated the demand for distributed contact center setups, especially those with AI. Amazon recently launched a contact center product with AI support – Contact Lens – which is generally available along with several third-party solutions. And Google is further expanding the contact center AI, which automatically reacts to customer inquiries and forwards them to a person if necessary.
Voice, video and chat capabilities are available starting today through Azure Communication Services APIs and software development kits, followed by SMS and phone number support in October. It is now possible to instantly switch between voice and video calls and start chats with a single click. Upon receipt, SMS will be integrated into existing Azure services such as Logic Apps and Event Grid. Telephone number support will extend to the provision of numbers that can handle incoming and outgoing calls and port existing numbers, request new numbers, and work with local devices and carrier networks through a SIP.
“In this remote-first world, organizations want to quickly adapt to customer needs and connect with them through engaging communication experiences,” said Scott Van Vliet, Microsoft’s CVP, in a statement. “Every day we find a new challenge that changes customer, developer and business needs. Our goal is to meet companies where they are and provide solutions that will help them be resilient and thrive their business in today’s marketplace. We see rich communication experiences – enabled through voice, video, chat, and SMS – continue to be an integral part of connecting businesses with their customers across devices and platforms. “
The launch of Azure Communication Services follows the debut of the Genesys Engage call center platform. Genesys developed the platform, which runs on Azure and is expected to be available in late 2020. According to the company, Engage Contact Centers will offer a “collaborative customer experience solution” with team, Dynamics 365 and Azure Cognitive Service integrations.
According to a 2020 report by Grand View Research, the contact center software market is projected to grow to $ 72.3 billion by 2027.