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        Uniphore Puts AI to Work Automating Interactions

        The first wave of discussions around artificial intelligence (AI) in the contact center was focused on providing software buyers with a general understanding of what the technology could do. Now the conversations are becoming more specific, focused and direct. Buyers are more aware of the spectrum of available use cases and appear to be exploring how to map new tools to the particular business problems they face. Contact center buyers are approaching new technology deployments (or enhancements to existing tools) with a sharper focus on developing business cases, supported by clearer ROI and benefits.  

        One way to develop those ROI cases is to focus on identifying processes in the back and front offices that can be automated. That's the role of vendors like Uniphore, a California company founded in 2008. Uniphore's software provides an underlying software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform, called the X Platform, upon which it has built several broad applications for contact center automation. The company has described the platform as being a combination of Conversational AI, RPA and Workflow Automation, though those three areas have significant overlap of their own. 

        The X Platform has four elements: a speech recognition engine, a computer-vision processor, a tonal emotion-detection engine and a natural language processing (NLP) system. Together, they can interpret customer and agent behavior and intent and run the resulting data through a series of automation services that makes the information available to applications from Uniphore or contact center partners.  

        Those applications are used by people across the enterprise and have impacts on multiple legs of the customer's journey. For example, U-Self Serve is an intelligent virtual assistant thatVentana_Research_2024_Assertion_CX_Automated_Interactions_2_S engages customers in natural, human-like conversation. Integrating with existing Contact-Center-as-a-Service (CCaaS) platforms and communications channels, it acts as the front line for resolving basic issues and questions. It can identify customer intent and parse multiple requests coming from the same customer in the same thread. It works with a knowledge bot to gather the correct contextual responses and moves the interaction forward using an intelligent routing schema that brings the context along when handing off to a live agent. Ventana Research asserts that by 2028, automated systems will contain two-thirds of customer interactions within self-service, helping minimize the cost impacts of increasing volume. 

        Further along in the journey, U-Capture is a compliance recording component that gathers both voice and screen actions, along with transcriptions and playback features. And after the fact, managers can use the U-Analyze analytics package to run all of an enterprise’s customer conversations through AI and NLP engines in order to assess agent performance, compliance and overall customer experience (CX). Users can monitor and evaluate 100% of recordings automatically and tie the information into agent or management dashboards.  

        One interesting aspect of these two applications is that together they form a potential replacement or alternative to traditional recording and quality tools that are part of workforce engagement packages, often sold by CCaaS vendors. Uniphore is not a traditional legacy contact center company, with roots in call routing and the voice telephony world. It can be thought of as a contact center-adjacent company: it doesn't necessarily care what contact center platform is in use, because its focus is on what happens to the interaction once it enters the company. It turns interactions into data that can then be analyzed and used by many different stakeholders for many purposes. 

        The fourth application, U-Assist, controls more of the process flow and automation than the interpretation or gathering of data (although those elements are almost impossible to separate). U-Assist delivers real-time agent guidance during interactions and afterwards, to automate after-call work. It can also track specifically what agents promised to customers to ensure that they are fulfilled. Uniphore should be making a bit more noise in the marketplace about that particular feature, known as Promise Management.  

        Uniphore is making a valuable contribution to the conversation in contact centers around AI, especially by making distinctions between the modes of AI it employs. The company distinguishes between Knowledge AI, Emotion AI and Generative AI (GenAI), systems that have different strengths and therefore different use cases. Uniphore is helping buyers clarify how they can apply AI tools to specific business problems. This is different from some other messaging approaches in the industry which drape a layer of GenAI over an entire platform and expect contact center buyers to figure out the most useful applications that stem from it. Uniphore tells buyers that there is not simply one AI, there are many, and the ones that make the most sense to any business are the ones that map directly to effective use cases in their environment. 

        An example is the product Q for Sales that was offered beginning in 2022. It is an application that uses the same platform and contact center features as applications in the U- product series to drive better performance from sales teams. Q for Sales uses the computer vision, tonal analysis, ASR and NLP of the platform to capture and make recommendations on the full emotional spectrum of sales conversations. The benefits are reported to be higher close rates and better overall performance of sales teams. Uniphore describes it as being based on emotional intelligence (EQ) awareness — arguing that since the bulk of communication is non-verbal, sales teams need a way to quickly interpret unconscious and emotional cues from prospects, especially in remote situations where people aren’t speaking face-to-face. And in keeping with the rest of the portfolio, it enables post-conversation analysis to correlate business outcomes with the emotional findings. 

        If you look at these tools from a broad CX point of view, it appears that Uniphore is using the sales/service connection to foster collaboration between teams and to provide a unified automation platform for processes that cross departmental boundaries. Since contact centers are notorious silos, the idea of sales and service operating on a common platform will be attractive to many enterprise buyers.  

        Going forward, Uniphore should place more emphasis on its relatively new manager and supervisor tools, which can be a lever to encourage that broader cross-departmental collaboration. Those tools, and the connections they have with applications like U-Analyze, may also be a mechanism to get contact center leadership to measure success by more outcome-related metrics that relate to customer profitability and loyalty than simpler measures of hold time or speed of answer. The company should also raise the profile of its Promise Management feature, which will surely become a standard feature across the industry once buyers understand how valuable it can be. Software buyers should take a good look at Uniphore's platform and application components when considering their AI and automation roadmaps.  


        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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