Pioneering innovation in contact centers: A CEO’s Perspective

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Pioneering innovation in contact centers: A CEO’s Perspective

Today, we know two things to be true when it comes to business and innovation: our world is driven by customer experience, and the rate of change is unrelenting. This is especially true when you look at the contact center as the tip of the spear in this digital, customer-centric world we’re in.

The contact center is no longer just about voice: it’s about omnichannel, inbound, outbound, ubiquitous AI, workforce solutions, and on and on. All of these components deeply impact how companies deliver customer experiences but are also extremely disruptive. The more disruptive innovation is, the more fatiguing it is to pursue. For organizations in highly complex, data sensitive industries, I’d maintain that this level of innovation feels unfeasible. It doesn’t just aggravate business management, it’s a fundamental business risk they can’t take on in those sensitive circumstances.

Businesses cannot bury their heads in the sand and ignore change, but you also can’t risk disrupting everything you have in place – especially without knowing with certainty that your efforts will deliver tangible business performance results. To understand this dynamic (and how to address it), it’s important to understand the “J curve” effect.

Alan Masarek

President and CEO of Avaya.

Understanding the “J curve” effect

What’s the opposite of burying your head in the sand? Chasing innovation at full speed, no matter the implications. For large enterprises with complex, bespoke systems, this typically means multi-year transformation projects that are incredibly disruptive (and thus, fatiguing). Imagine this being the very bottom of the “J.”

But this is just how it goes, right? It has almost become an accepted fact that businesses will see worse performance for a period of time so you can get to the good stuff on the other side. Companies head into these projects thinking it won’t be too bad, when in reality they can go on for years with research showing a 70% failure rate.

Let’s bring it back to the contact center. The infrastructural voice plumbing in most enterprise contact center environments is bespoke within every workflow. The last thing you want to do is rip it out entirely to get to the shiny new tools you want to get to: cloud, AI, etc. Instead, you want to augment your existing environment, adding additional channels across voice, chat, social, and digital, while broadly deploying AI tools throughout.

With today’s business and tech landscapes creating relentless change fatigue, it’s common for companies to get stuck in this deep end of the “J.” How do you stay in an environment where you get the innovation you need at your pace without suffering through this pain? That’s what innovation without disruption is all about.

Innovation without disruption: Maintaining control with immediate time to value

Innovation is good and necessary, but not every pathway or avenue to innovation is worthwhile. In my opinion, innovation without disruption is the best way to think about how to pursue and consume innovation. It challenges today’s common notions about enterprise transformation:

1. You don’t have to risk resiliency to consume new technology. Instead, you can continue operating seamlessly while consuming innovation at your pace – driving down change fatigue, getting to the upswing of the J curve faster, and delivering tangible business performance results. 

2. You don’t have to rip out what’s working for your business to get the “cool” stuff. Instead, your core CX or contact center platform acts as the integrator of new innovation. 

3. You don’t have to drag your business to innovation and risk disruption. Let innovation come to you, specifically by working with partners who can deliver an integration experience that allows the business – and its end users – to consume new tech in a way that makes sense for your business.

Successfully managing innovation means finding the right balance. The excitement of new technologies is clear, but the challenges they bring can’t be ignored. Companies must adopt strategies that allow them to adopt new changes without undermining what they already have. 

By integrating solutions gradually and with care, businesses can steer clear of the setbacks often seen with rapid changes, moving towards sustainable growth that doesn’t just introduce new tools, but also improves business performance. This strategy of “innovation without disruption” offers a practical way forward, helping companies innovate at a manageable pace while keeping fundamental operations stable and effective.

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