November 23, 2016
Author: David Mario Smith
Nextiva’s NextCon16 event had a sharp people-centric focus on unifying customer communications and internal collaboration, while leveraging machine learning and natural language processing to make better insight-based business decisions.
- IT and Lines of business planners should evaluate communications and collaboration platforms by the extent in which they can unify internal and external customer communications and collaboration, while leveraging artificial intelligence to make better insight-based business decisions.
- Tie communications and collaboration platform decisions to key business use cases and ensure measurement against established Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
- Existing Nextiva customers and potential prospects should request a detailed roadmap about NextOS, with a focus on the solutions it will bring to specific business processes.
I recently attended Nextiva’s NextCon16 conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. For those that may not know Nextiva, it is a cloud communications company that provides business VoIP services and contact center solutions among other communications and collaboration tools. At the NextCon16 conference, targeted focus was placed on the major announcement by CEO and Founder Tomas Gorny, around Nextiva’s new NextOS operating system, which is aimed at unifying customer communications and team collaboration on one system with intelligent applications and business analytics. Yes, I know I just said a mouthful, but let’s get into what this all means.
First, let’s back up a little bit. This year has been full of tech vendor events, where a major theme has been a move towards software and services. A key approach has been around platform as a service (PaaS) with artificial intelligence built in. Capabilities become services that are aggregated in a flexible open platform and can be embedded into business applications and processes. Analytics and intelligence then enable deep insights to make better business decisions. While that is the promise, how it actually happens in a broad scale remains to be seen as it relates to improving how people work.
NextOS Vision and Capabilities
To sum up what Tomas Gorny and Nextiva’s vision is for NextOS, the following is what the company believes the operating system will allow organizations to seamlessly do:
- Communicate: Connect with customers through voice, email, chat, SMS, and social media.
- Collaborate: Connect internally with teams through task management, internal chat, and calendar invites.
- Engage: Connect with customers through email campaigns, surveys, and other self-help options.
As for specific features and capabilities, according to Nextiva, NextOS includes the following:
- NextDB - The Nextiva database serves as the single place where customer history, relationships and employee information is stored. This provides a complete view of each customer across all touchpoints and in real time.
- NextIQ - Machine learning and natural language processing come together to organize and automate information to evolve with your business. The future of work is driven by knowledge and automation, and this is the foundation of NextOS.
- NextStep - The rules engine of the NextOS platform drives automation across the system so you don’t have to think about next steps. They just happen.
- Nextiva Analytics - Nextiva Analytics analyzes data from all NextOS applications to connect the dots. Raw data becomes actionable insight for your business.
Nextiva’s Challenges and Opportunities for Success
I thought Nextiva’s NextOS announcement was quite interesting because of its vision of combining customer communications with internal team collaboration and the intelligence to identify patterns to make better customer relationship decisions and actions. Having already owned the communications piece of this puts Nextiva in an advantageous and positive position to make a case to IT and Lines of business buyers. The key to success will be in how well Nextiva can create a compelling message that resonates with business buyers. While on the surface that looks like a marketing challenge (especially for CMO Yaniv Masjedi), it is much more. This will be a challenge in gaining trust. Nextiva will have to position itself as more than a technology provider, but as a trusted advisor. This will require a continued laser sharp focus on services from what is already being done.
In conjunction with an even sharper focus on services, another important key to success will be how Nextiva expands the developer ecosystem around this new operating system to allow thousands of NextOS instances to bloom globally. Additional services will come from channel partners, who will need expanded skills in dealing with business buyers. Technology buying centers are shifting towards business leaders. Messaging will also have to be solutions-focused and very sensitive to vertical industries and specific roles in order to resonate. Nextiva will have to tell its story in ways that makes sense to a diverse audience of business buyers.
CEO Tomas Gorny gave a passionate keynote about the need to solve the business communications crisis, which is rift with too many technology and applications silos that causes user complexity and confusion. It also causes business leaders to fly blind when it comes to customer communications and understanding their needs with regards to a severe lack of analytics and intelligence.
The major opportunity here is elegantly bringing together customer centric communications with internal collaboration for increased transparency in business processes. It’s the recognition that the employee experience and engagement is inextricably tied to the customer experience. Studies have shown a direct correlation between engaged employees and earnings. Companies with high employee engagement enjoy a positive impact on their bottom line. Solving the internal collaboration and productivity issue in conjunction with improved customer communications is a smart move.
The ability to leverage machine learning and natural language processing to gain insights, make better decisions, and automate processes is also a compelling argument. The potential is in gaining insights into customer communications and behaviors to make accurate predictions about customer needs and internal employee needs as well.
While NextOS presents huge potential, Nextiva will have to execute its go-to-market strategy. We believe it will incorporate a freemium to premium model to form a pull strategy and create critical mass. Existing Nextiva customers are obviously a primary target, but the larger opportunity will come from penetration outside of its core base. This is where the partner ecosystem will be critical.