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What’s behind the 2021 M&A boom for conversation analytics (and how to navigate it successfully)

Company

Jeff Gallino

September 02, 2021

M&A consolidation blog

If you’ve been watching the conversation analytics market (and related markets such as revenue intelligence, transcription, etc.) closely, you’ve probably noticed a boom in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the last few quarters. It’s an exciting time to be in such a hot space and I truly believe that a rising tide lifts all boats – but the rapid consolidation of companies and solutions can also lead to more questions than answers. It isn’t always easy to navigate, especially for end users.

While every company has its own agenda for pursuing an acquisition, I’ve identified a few key trends driving this M&A activity – here’s what it means for the conversation analytics market and for organizations already using or considering this type of solution.

Why conversation analytics is hot right now

COVID-19 rapidly accelerated the adoption of digital transformation – entire businesses moved completely remote in the matter of days, and companies were forced to speed up the implementation of certain technologies. Successful digital transformation, for some, was truly a matter of succeeding or closing shop. And thanks to many of these new, remote operations, organizations are now having more conversations (particularly over the phone) with customers than ever before. Activities that were primarily done in person previously, like grocery shopping, are now being done virtually – equating to more customer service conversations and a renewed focus on customer experience (CX).

Historically, CX was determined and evaluated by solicited feedback, like post-interaction surveys, alone. But these old methods don’t paint the full picture of CX or customer emotion and sentiment.

Unsolicited customer feedback is the next evolution, and critical to fully understanding Voice of the Customer (VoC) and Voice of the Employee (VoE). Voice was already a big, lucrative data set for enterprises, but the maturity of conversation intelligence reached a peak in the past year, with buyers truly understanding how analyzing and uncovering insights from voice data can improve efficiency, customer experiences, and agent performance in the contact center. What’s more, they’re becoming more aware of how these unsolicited insights can deliver benefits beyond the contact center as well, driving real enterprise-wide improvement.

The most exciting part is that organizations already have access to a wealth of customer data. Customers engage with companies across multiple devices and channels, while stopping and starting their journey along the way. More companies are adopting tools that capture omnichannel data and uncover insights that deliver personalized, contextual experiences that drive loyalty and retention.

Centers of gravity in enterprise tech

That said, creating value from data is hard, especially when so much of it ends up stuck in the contact center or doesn’t get used at all. AI-driven conversation analytics has emerged as a leading technology that can help organizations make sense of these massive data sets and achieve all the benefits I’ve already mentioned – driving better employee experiences, improving sales cycles, designing more impactful products, and more. It’s no surprise that M&A has heated up in this space.

If you look across most companies that are “centers of gravity” in enterprise technology – think companies like Salesforce, Amazon, Google or Microsoft – a common thread among them is their focus on understanding their customers, both through the development of speech-to-text tools and investments in voice analytics technology.

Realizing there is an entire industry dedicated to analyzing customer conversations, these centers of gravity started the land grab for conversation analytics technology. It’s often easier to acquire experience and expertise than to build out dedicated data science and development teams and start from scratch. As voice, in particular, reaches the digital edge in people’s day-to-day lives with technologies like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, and the extension of those voice technologies in customer service applications, I expect we’ll continue to see M&A in this industry.

The unspoken impact of market consolidation

While there are many reasons why this M&A activity is a good thing, there’s an unspoken impact of market consolidation on customers of both the acquirer and acquired company. Integrations are difficult and they aren’t always done in the most strategic way. For example, in the case of acqui-hires, customers end up being the group that suffers the most – whether because they’re forced onto a new platform they don’t want to use or face the prospect of using a product that will ultimately be sunset down the line. There are also ‘me too’ acquisitions, where companies feel pressured to roll up as many products into Frankensuites as possible. This may look good for bigger exists down the line, but customers suffer.

The best acquisitions, in my opinion, are those that add to an innovation stack with other best-of-breed market offerings. Not only does it enable the acquiring company to continue to execute on innovative product development, but customers end up benefiting the most – the solutions they’re already using are enhanced, as opposed to being rendered redundant.

The CallMiner advantage

For companies that are already using conversation analytics solutions, I have no doubt that the industry will continue to consolidate; for those that are considering adopting a tool to better understand customer conversations, the market will continue to evolve. That makes deciding to stay with or select a new vendor incredibly important, and potentially difficult to navigate.

The key consideration is partnering with a vendor who has the experience and expertise to support your business goals, regardless of M&A activity. CallMiner is right in the thick of the conversation analytics market and is the pioneer of the technology and a lot of the approaches, like analyzing unsolicited customer feedback, that has made this industry hot in the first place. Data is at our core. Our platform is designed to turn VoC and VoE data into transformative insights – starting with voice, and expanding to other omnichannel digital interactions. From there, we’ve applied this expertise to new markets like sales, healthcare and more. CallMiner has always operated with rich customer conversation data as its core and always will.

What’s more, we believe that M&A activity should be beneficial to our customers first and foremost. We lead with an open approach that makes it easy for our customers to analyze customer data, wherever it exists, to drive business improvements from the contact center up to the C-suite. That’s why an investment in CallMiner will always be a good one.

If you’ve found yourself in the epicenter of this M&A activity and are working to navigate it successfully, ask these key questions to evaluate a potential conversation analytics vendor:

  • How well does my vendor collect, normalize and analyze omnichannel customer interaction data from every touchpoint, including voice?
  • Does my vendor enable me to leverage insights from customer conversations across different departments (e.g. sales, marketing, finance, etc.)?
  • Will a recent merger or acquisition impact product innovation, development pipeline or ongoing product support?
  • Does this vendor allow access to its analytics insights via open APIs, helping me use other, complementary tools of my choice?
  • What added capabilities, such as the delivery of real-time insights and guidance, differentiate this vendor from the competition?

If you’re considering a new conversation analytics vendor, because of recent M&A activity or otherwise, reach out to us to start the discussion.

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