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        Ventana Research Analyst Perspectives

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        NICE Shines Spotlight on Enlighten AI

        Since acquiring InContact in 2016, NICE has moved far from its roots in call recording and contact center quality optimization. That acquisition birthed what was effectively a hybrid that married cloud contact center operations (CCaaS) with a focus on advanced customer experience (CX) analytics. NICE held its annual customer event, Interactions 2023, in June in New York, gathering end users to hear the company talk about its work in these areas and its efforts to use new AI technologies for CX.

        The market for contact center technology is changing very quickly. The mix of vendors who participate in outfitting centers for operation is more complex, ranging beyond the traditional communications-focused firms to include software developers from across the digital channel spectrum. And now that many organizations are realizing the need to connect their centers to broader CX efforts, vendors with experience in MarTech, CRM, data and analytics can all plausibly argue that they have a necessary component of the service tech stack.

        It is not just the mix of vendors that is changing; much of the actual underlying technology on offer is also new in the past five years. Today’s contact center tech buyers now have to understand how AI and automation play a role in core operational functions like agent engagement, knowledge management, proactive outreach and quality control.

        Change can be productive, but also daunting. The level of complexity facing buyers is much higher than it was even one buying cycle — three to five years — ago. In addition to new vendors and new tools, there are now a wider variety of internal stakeholders across the enterprise who need to participate in planning customer journeys, measuring success and allocating scarce resources.

        In this complex environment, many buyers find comfort in the idea that large and experienced contact center firms like NICE are capable of providing guidance. Vendors like NICE that have an especially broad portfolio are in position to help contact centers equip themselves for new kinds of customer contact and more complex operations. NICE is one of the few vendors that offer both the communications routing (through inContact) and a full suite of software applications that knit the contact center tightly into organizational CX efforts. This is important because the majority of current contact centers are still beginning their efforts to transform: to the cloud, to digital interactions, to data-driven planning and decision-making. NICE’s software suite is advanced enough to move centers along the maturity curve to more modern operations, but also familiar enough at the basics to ensure consistent operations.

        We can see that logic reflected in some of the product announcements made at the Interactions event. NICE focused on its Enlighten AI tool, which was unveiled in 2021 and periodically enhanced since. Enlighten AI is the machine learning foundation of NICE’s CXone platform, providing intelligence to multiple processes in and out of the contact center. As expected, Enlighten was the subject of a large number of drill-down sessions at the event, providing practitioners with an on-ramp to using AI for specific productivity improvements in their centers. It also provides an opportunity for NICE to reiterate to the market the steady stream of additional functions its AI has been able to handle in the short time Enlighten has been available. It now has a voice of the customer component, one for complaint management, and others for journey management and self-service.

        This lays the groundwork for the announcements just made, which augments Enlighten AI with three new capabilities. Notably, NICE is targeting these new tools — Enlighten Copilot, Enlighten Autopilot and Enlighten Actions — as much at the needs of specific user groups as to solving specific business problems.

        The first, Enlighten Copilot, offers customer service employees prompts towards “guided” interactions with a combination of real time coaching and contextually specific input from knowledge articles. It can automate some of the tasks that consume agent time like creating interaction summaries.

        Enlighten Autopilot is aimed directly at customers. It is a conversational AI engine that functions as a proactive virtual agent for self-service encounters. NICE described its interactions as “fully personalized.”

        The third new component, Enlighten Actions, is perhaps the one with the most long-term promise. Aimed at CX leadership, it uses generative AI through ChatGPT to analyze interaction activity to suggest — and ultimately carry out — actions in specific areas that can be optimized through automation. It draws on resources from throughout the CXone suite for those activities.

        We have noted that AI is a modern essential to preparing agents with real-time information during interactions, personalized to the customer and contextually relevant to the query.

        Through 2026, technology for agent management will expand beyond tracking and performance measurement to include a wide array of AI-enhanced tools. The takeaway forVentana_Research_2023_Assertion_AgentMgmt_Agent_Mgmt_AI_25_S buyers is that modern automation and AI technology adds to agents' abilities and can unearth savings in speed and productivity. The steady improvement in Enlighten AI’s capabilities signal that NICE is continuing its drive to automate service processes and link them to broader enterprise goals in CX.

        Contact center buyers who expect their operations to be drawn more tightly into unified CX teams should consider NICE’s CXone platform. It provides both stability for ongoing interaction handling and a springboard to use AI to unify disconnected processes.


        Keith Dawson


        Keith Dawson
        Director of Research, Customer Experience

        Keith Dawson leads the software research and advisory in the Customer Experience (CX) expertise at Ventana Research, now part of ISG, covering applications that facilitate engagement to optimize customer-facing processes. His coverage areas include agent management, contact center, customer experience management, field service, intelligent self-service, voice of the customer and related software to support customer experiences.


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