Can a Cloud Contact Center Be Built from APIs?

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Twilio’s latest release has pondering whether a cloud contact center can really be built on APIs. Twilio, the global cloud communications platform, is the applications game changer whose API building blocks successfully showed developers that customizing and deploying global telephony, chat, routing, and task distribution tools can and should be easy.

All along, Twilio has been enabling contact centers to be built using its APIs. Now, its latest release, Flex, is a contact center. When Twilio announced Flex this month, it described it as “the first instantly deployable, cloud-based platform that allows businesses to programmatically customize every element of their contact center experience.” With flexibility in mind, Twilio provides Flex as a viable solution for businesses—enterprises, especially—that continue to be frustrated by the inherent complexity of contact centers.

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With Flex, Twilio makes it look like building a contact center is easy, but it’s not. It’s very, very difficult to build a contact center from scratch from APIs. A huge undertaking, very few companies have done it, and the few that have may not have built a complete contact center. Liberty Mutual, for example, used Twilio APIs to test and build some cloud-based omnichannel capabilities such as click-to-call functionality, which is not at all a fully fledged contact center. Financial institution giant ING Bank bet on the agility, speed of deployment, and flexibility afforded by Twilio APIs to build a global, scalable contact center that replaces 17 separate legacy call centers. It made it work, however, with the impressive funding and the vast pool of developers needed to accomplish such an enormous task.

A number of call center companies—Talkdesk, NewVoiceMedia, and Serenova, to name a few—based their business on Twilio APIs. It will be interesting to see how they accept a prepackaged contact center like Flex. The real question is, do enterprises want to build a contact center, or do they want to buy it?

A step in the right direction for simplifying the process of creating a contact center, Flex features high-level components that complement Twilio’s existing attribute-based routing application, Task Router, and IVR builder application, Twilio Studio. The release of Flex demonstrates that Twilio “gets” that customers want a flexible cloud solution that’s easy and can work with the applications they already have, or legacy systems that, for some reason, continue to be carried forward in company operations.

Despite the apparent simplicity of Flex, however, building contact center software is still a gargantuan effort, and there are many ways in which Twilio can develop Flex.

We expect that any cloud contact center, Flex included, should offer building blocks for reporting, CRM integrations, a complex agent capacity model, and freedom of choice for telco carriers. Make sure that any cloud contact center platform that you consider can provide these important features.

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