AWS Aims to Reinvent Contact Centers with Gen AI

This syndicated post originally appeared at Zeus Kerravala, Author at eWEEK.

Learn how AWS is looking to reinvent contact centers with generative AI. Discover the features and benefits of this new technology.

A busy week at AWS re:Invent started with a few key announcements from AWS, with contact center innovation being front and center. The contact center sector has largely stood still for the better part of four decades. While there has been an effort to move the systems from on-premises to the cloud, contact centers largely operate today as they did years years ago.

The mission of AWS has been to “reinvent” the markets it touches. At the event, the announcements included generative AI capabilities in Amazon Connect, AWS’s cloud contact center, and enterprise hardware to provide businesses with easy-to-use virtual desktops. The company also expanded its partnership with Salesforce.

Amazon Connect Gets a Dose of Generative AI

AWS’s Connect is an open platform that integrates with a variety of applications. AWS is adding generative AI capabilities to Connect that build on its machine learning features to enhance customer service capabilities, including:

  • Generative AI that can recommend responses and actions for customer support: AWS’s new generative AI assistant, Amazon Q, can help agents understand the intents of a customer and help them with responses and actions that can resolve issues.
  • Summarization of interactions: Amazon Connect Contact Lens creates summaries of customer contacts (including the customer’s issue, the actions taken by the agent, and the next steps required) for supervisors as an interaction ends.
  • Generative AI that enables simpler bot creation: With the Amazon Lex administrator console, admins use natural language to describe their self-service system goals to create chatbots and IVRs.
  • Personalized customer experiences: Amazon Connect Customer Profiles uses models that quickly provide personalized customer experiences.

AWS says customers as varied as Choice Hotels, NatWest Group bank, ISV NeuraFlash, Traeger Grills, and USAN employ Amazon Connect.

Amazon WorkSpaces Thin Client Simplifies Hybrid Working

AWS has taken a familiar-looking device—the Fire TV Cube—and repurposed it as a thin client that can reduce tech costs and enhance an organization’s security. AWS said customers had asked for a lower-cost device, especially in high-turnover environments like call centers or payment processing.

Melissa Stein, Director of Product for End User Computing at AWS, oversaw the Amazon WorkSpaces Thin Client project.

“We looked for options and found that the hardware we used for the Amazon Fire TV Cube provided all the resources customers needed to access their cloud-based virtual desktops,” she said. “So we built an entirely new software stack for that device, and since we didn’t have to design and build new hardware, we’re passing those savings along to customers.”

The Amazon WorkSpaces Thin Client looks just like a Fire TV Cube. But its USB and HDMI ports can connect to dual monitors, a mouse, a keyboard, a camera, and a headset. The Thin Client uses firmware and software designed just for this device, with a fast, simple, secure OS that provides cloud-based access to applications and remote IT management capabilities.

The Thin Clients start at $195, well under the $600-$1,200 similar devices often cost. AWS sells them through the Amazon Business B2B marketplace. AWS can configure the device hardware to a company’s requirements and ship it to homes or offices.

Stein said that simplicity was the watchword.

“IT leaders can easily manage their entire organization’s device fleet centrally and typically have an employee up and running in a few minutes, compared to hours or days with traditional laptops and desktops,” she said.

The AWS team said they talked to AWS customers about a range of concerns, including cost, security, and management. In those conversations, a common pain point kept coming up: shipping expensive desktops and laptops. That’s when they realized they had an answer right in front of them.

“We have an entire division in our company that makes devices already,” Stein said. “Combining the expertise from the Amazon Devices group with logistics from Amazon Business and the power of the AWS Cloud is a strong combination for customers.”

Expanded Partnership with Salesforce Brings Greater Intelligence Across the Customer Journey

AWS also announced that it was expanding its partnership with Salesforce.

AWS will start offering Salesforce products in the AWS marketplace and plans to expand product integrations across data and AI. The partnership aims to streamline purchase options, unify data management, and bring AWS data and AI services to Salesforce’s Einstein 1 platform.

The company also trumpets its seamless customer service with Service Cloud and Amazon Connect as well as the ability for Salesforce developers to utilize AWS Compute and development services.

Bottom Line: Gen AI and Contact Centers

AWS is in the vanguard with GenAI. The announcements at re:Invent underscore that leadership. Few functions will benefit more from generative AI than contact centers.

So focusing on that with Amazon Connect and the thin clients should be a boon for companies looking to jumpstart their generative AI efforts and roll out the capabilities throughout their organizations. The expanded partnership with Salesforce should also help companies that have hitched their wagons to AWS and Salesforce.

Regarding Amazon Connect, AWS has come a long way in a short period. When the company launched its own Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) solution, many, myself included, were highly skeptical that a company that delivers application building blocks could be successful in the SaaS space. AWS has not only been successful but has also broken down many preconceived notions of CCaaS, including that it isn’t appropriate for large enterprises. Amazon Connect is used by some of the largest contact centers in the world, including its own, and I see it continuing to deliver innovation through AI.

Author: Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.