Midsummer is the time of the year associated with warm summer nights, barbecue, and the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure. In this year’s report, SAP was positioned in the visionaries quadrant. Inspired by the thorough report, I thought I would make a personal summary about some of the contact center market trends I have been observing.

In the past few years one thing has become clear: isolated systems are the thing of the past and companies are looking for more comprehensive solutions and bundled contact center suites. Today, all vital components (different inbound and outbound channels, monitoring & reporting, supervisor tools, call recording, Interactive Voice Response – to name a few) are integrated into a single bundled suite. The benefits of comprehensive solutions are significant in terms of both cost savings and customer satisfaction, therefore this is certainly an area where we will see a great deal of development also in the future.

Integration of communications with business systems is another thing which used to be an interesting option but has now become almost self-evident for most businesses. Now that the software-based communication solutions have widely replaced hardware-based systems, it has become easier and more affordable to integrate the front end and back end solutions. In this era of high customer expectations and increased complexity, CTI is a way to make best use of company resources and know how, so it is no wonder that this is what companies more or less request today.

Now, looking into the most current trends and changes, big data is definitely a game changer in customer service. Just think about all the customer data that can be gathered in contact centers –from emails, phone calls, social media conversations and other channels. For the first time companies have realistic ways to gather and utilize this data – even real time. Big data technologies give totally new kind of visibility into customer service quality and customer experience. This topic was discussed in more detail in my previous blog post.

Cloud will undoubtedly be another significant game changer in contact centers. It is nothing new as such, since cloud-based contact centers have been around for quite some time. However, new deployment models and improvements in security have made cloud a viable option for larger contact centers as well. We are seeing companies with hundreds and even thousands of agents adopting a cloud-based solution and being able to benefit from the flexibility, scalability and cost savings this model offers.

New contact channels, social media, customer insight, mobile apps and devices…there are a lot of new opportunities for contact centers and customer service. The famous quote “the only thing constant is change”  is very much true also in the contact center industry and that is without a doubt one thing keeping it interesting year over year.