The 8×8 experience communications-as-a-service (XCaaS) platform melds communication/collaboration (UCaaS) and contact center (CCaaS) capabilities.
Since its introduction nearly three years ago in May 2021, the platform has served as a blueprint for competitors to offer their own integrated UCaaS/CCaaS offers, and customers have come to expect these as part of vendor portfolios.
8×8 has now announced the addition of AI-generated transcriptions, summaries, and action items for video meetings to the platform. The new capabilities have roots dating a year ago. In March 2023, 8×8 revealed it had integrated AI across its products residing on the platform. The most significant move involved the contact center with OpenAI’s ‘Whisper’ speech-to-text engine providing AI-drafted transcriptions, translations, and summarizations. It appears that 8×8 has now enlisted ‘Whisper’ to serve double duty and support video meetings.
When CEO Samuel Wilson came onboard in May 2023, one of his goals was to perpetuate the enrichment of the XCaaS platform that had recently taken place. The new trio of capabilities satisfies that goal but with the price of being late to market. Rather than leading the market as it did with the introduction of XCaaS, this time around 8×8 is following competitors such as Cisco, Microsoft, and Zoom that have already introduced or announced the same capabilities.
The late arrival to market is tarnishing a second goal that Wilson declared; namely, implementing a ‘contact center-first’ go-to-market approach. Under this approach, 8×8 would lead with contact center capabilities, targeting not only contact center operators but also cross-selling into its existing UCaaS base. However, disappointing UCaaS customers will only make them less receptive to adopting other, additional capabilities.
To fulfil both of Wilson’s goals, 8×8 will need to eliminate time to market missteps and execute more quickly. However, the arrival of the new features comes with a silver lining – 8×8 is positioning them well for the new age of generative AI (GenAI).
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8×8 and GenAI
From the beginning, GenAI has been greatly heralded, especially for its ability to create responses to inquiries, draft prose, and glean patterns and themes from data. At the same time, that embrace has come coupled with widespread fear that hard-earned skills will be displaced. Those fears are beginning to soften as AI increasingly earns recognition as a tool that makes workers more productive and efficient. In this scenario, mundane and time-absorbing tasks are outsourced to AI, allowing workers to focus on high-priority activities and thus increase their value to their organizations.
8×8 is positioning the features with those productivity and efficiency benefits in mind. It is a shrewd – and necessary – move given the gravity of concerns GenAI has unleashed as well as the fact that competitors have adopted similar positioning. For example, Google (with Duet AI), Microsoft (with Copilot), and Zoom (with AI Companion). 8×8’s XCaaS platform takes UCaaS to the next level by integrating it with CCaaS. As such, the platform remains the strongest weapon in its arsenal. While the company continues to make enhancements, it needs to be more timely if it is to restore its place as a trend-setter.