Omni-channel communications gaining traction in APAC

frost and sullivanWhile voice interaction remains the primary communication channel in contact centres, the concept of an omni-channel is gaining popularity in Asia-Pacific, according to Frost & Sullivan.

With smartphone penetration and social media usage on the rise, an increasing number of organisations are working closely with system integrators and independent software vendors to implement the omni-channel platform. Their objective is to overcome the existing silo nature of communication channels and provide a consistent and seamless customer experience across voice, email, SMS, Web-chat, social media and real-time video interactions. In response, contact centers are transforming into ‘customer engagement centers’ with multi-channel strategies that are tightly integrated with mobile applications and self-service capabilities.

According to Frost & Sullivan, the market earned revenues of US$699.5 million in 2014 and is estimated to reach US$952.9 million in 2021 with a compound annual growth rate of 4.5 percent. The study covers automatic call distributors, outbound systems, computer telephony integration, interactive voice response, workforce management, call monitoring, speech technology and multimedia systems. Workforce optimisation and analytics are expected to lead revenue growth across these segments, driven by the continuous focus on contact centre operation performance management.
“System replacement and software upgrades, along with the adoption of advanced contact centre applications will be the key drivers for mature markets in the region. In the Southeast Asian markets such as Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand, contact centre application providers will find mixed opportunities, with a handful of greenfield and system upgrade projects,” said Shuishan Lu, Information & Communication Technologies Industry Analyst of Frost & Sullivan.

However, some organisations’ long decision-making process and resolve to hold back system replacement projects and solution upgrades due to tight capital budgets could dampen market development. Many APAC organisations are still keen to consolidate their current ICT resources to find means to optimise their systems and are thus poor targets for new business.

“Although the support of multi-channel interaction has been a must for contact centres in APAC, many companies are eschewing investment in agent-facing applications. Cost centres continue to be the top-line concept for these companies, whose key consideration is the profitability of their contact centres rather than the enhancement of customer interaction,” said Lu.

Several companies, especially in the small and medium sized segments are evaluating hosted/cloud contact centre services in the interest of lowering out of pocket costs. Rather than completely moving their contact centre infrastructure to the cloud, companies are adopting the hybrid model. This involves deploying on-premise inbound contact routing applications and using other value-added applications through the software-as-a-service model.