Getting Better [Together] All the Time
The Microsoft acquisition of Nuance initially boasted of Microsoft’s strategic interest in the Nuance Healthcare AI Solutions and Services and provided little insight into an actionable path forward for connecting Nuance’s speech, natural language understanding, authentication, and conversational intelligence to automate customer service.
At the time of the announcement, Nuance was actively moving their legacy Nina virtual assistant platform into maintenance mode and going all-in on their next generation Mix platform, an “enterprise-grade SaaS platform with intuitive DIY tools for creating advanced conversational experiences on IVR, smart speakers, and chatbots.” The future of Nuance virtual assistants and connectivity to their Nuance Digital Engagement Platform (NDEP) hinged on the reception, adoption, and success of this new Mix platform. It was a big bet and huge professional services undertaking to realize the vision for Mix within Nuance’s own platform infrastructure.
Once the excitement of the acquisition was announced, we were left to wonder, “What will Microsoft do?” They repeatedly let us know that Microsoft + Nuance were “better together” in the healthcare vertical, but how would that play out for conversationally intelligent, AI-powered customer engagement?
Introducing the Microsoft Digital Contact Center Platform
If you were looking for a sign of how formidable this Nuance and Microsoft partnership would eventually become in the customer engagement and contact center space, here is your warning shot. Today, the happy couple announced the new Microsoft Digital Contact Center Platform, an open, extensible, and collaborative contact center solution designed to deliver seamless customer journeys, powered by Dynamics 365, Teams, Power Platform, Azure, and Nuance.
Charles Lamanna, CVP, Microsoft Business Applications describes the platform as a flexible solution for contact centers where “Best-in-class AI powers intelligent self-service and live customer engagements, collaborative agent experiences, business process automation, advanced telephony, and fraud prevention capabilities.”
The new platform’s mantra “Connect the stack, connect the experience,” is a timely message that mirrors Opus Research’s perspective on the Conversational Cloud. In the words of our own Dan Miller, “deployments call for a full stack solution spanning self-service, routing and employee or customer workflows, all informed by systems of record and transaction processing.”
Checking All the Boxes
Microsoft Digital Contact Center Platform is a purpose-built integration of a set of features and functions designed to meet and exceed the offerings of its rival hyperscalers, specifically Amazon (with Connect) and Google (with CCAI). The Colossus of Redmond was already seeing organic demand for Teams to act more like a conversational hub for customer interactions. It has integrated Nuance’s core ASR, TTS, NLP, ML resources as an intelligent front-door. The Mix platform is now the “pro-code” flavor of its service creation offerings. This packaging of Conversational AI that is destined to have great appeal to the contact center infrastructure providers that already have deep integrations with both Microsoft and Nuance, namely Genesys, Cisco and Avaya.
Today’s platform announcement showcases the combined opportunity of Nuance and Microsoft’s contact center offerings and hopes to simplify implementation and support of contact center infrastructure. The promise of Microsoft Digital Contact Center Platform’s open nature will allow its enterprise customers as well as integration partners to build on what they already have and add any combination of capabilities to transform their customer service into a performant Conversational Cloud solution.
In the words of Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, during today’s Microsoft Inspire event, “When we make every day experiences collaborative, we can bend the productivity curve for an entire organization.”