Contextual Communication - Altocloud and Cisco Context Service


Editor’s note: 17 March 2015 - Cisco today announced Cisco Context Service at Enterprise Connect 2015 in Orlando FL (announced here by Tod Famous, Cisco product line manager). Altocloud’s integration with Context Service is already available and being demonstrated by Cisco in their booth (#1205) at the show. Blog updated with screenshots. See also the other big Altocloud announcements at the show.

Taking action with a single view of the Customer Journey

ContextualCommunication-AltocloudandCiscoWhat if you could get a single view of your customer’s journey across all their touch-points, as it happens in real-time? What if you could bring web, mobile and contact center together into one seamless view? Now imagine if you could do it without a big IT project and armies of expensive consultants. With Altocloud and Cisco Context Service you can positively impact customer experiences with a single view of the customer journey, leveraging some simple web APIs. 

Over the past week we’ve been working to integrate Altocloud Predictive Communications with the new Cisco Context Service. This is Cisco’s cloud based service that allows all kinds of context relating to a customer to be deposited in a shared cloud service and delivered to agents. Agents now have a much wider view of the whole customer journey. Traditional call centers only had Interactive Voice Response (IVR) “digits”, simple telephony data, and some historical CRM data. With the right context, the contact center of tomorrow will understand all the web and mobile behavior that happened before the call!

To provide a full 360-degree view of the live journey, we’ve extended the Altocloud SaaS platform so that Cisco Context Service receives the full web and mobile app journey.  We also provide the results from our machine learning that understands the patterns and importance of each customer’s current and previous journeys. When a prospect or customer visits an Altocloud enabled business on web or mobile, we identify the customer’s value for the business, what upsell opportunities there may be or what issue the customer is having.

When the customer arrives on the business web site we create a POD (Piece of Data) in the Cisco Context Service. PODs are the key data sharing objects between different systems. This POD holds a pointer to the full journey visualization that the Altocloud service generates. As the journey progresses the Altocloud machine learning analyses the journey and discovers personas related to the customer. We also track the online business outcomes that are achieved by the customer. As these events occur we update the POD with tags to enhance the meta-data maintained in the POD.  We also add identity elements, as visitors submit information or log-in, such as name, email address, social identity, customer ID or phone number into the POD as they are discovered. 

If this customer subsequently calls into the Cisco-based contact center, then a quick lookup into Context Service allows routing rules to select the right people to handle the call. The selected agent is presented with the customer identity tagged with the machine-learned personas attributed to this customer, and any outcomes they have already achieved. The agent also sees to the full customer journey showing every page viewed, searches performed, forms filled, customer’s current & home location and a history of all previous journeys and interactions that the customer has undertaken. As a result the customer does not have to just “start again” with the agent – all the context that an agent needs to quickly and accurately understand and address the needs of the customer is easily visible.

The integration itself was very straightforward using the clean RESTful API for the Cisco Context Service. We were quickly able to create a micro-service in our Kafka-based data pipeline that creates PODs for new journeys and then updates the POD as tags for Personas and Outcomes are added to the journey meta-data. Cisco provided us with an example Java class that connected to the API and provided for the creation of PODs and subsequent update of POD meta-data. From having received this sample code to having a Docker Container running a Java service connecting to the Cisco Context Service took about three days with minimal support just to clarify some elements of the beta documentation. This really is easy!

We believe the business impact will be profound. Digital businesses move fast – they want to quickly convert online shoppers into buyers, turn online prospects into leads and arrange sales discussions with them ASAP, and resolve customer care issues in as few “frictionless” steps as possible. They cannot afford delay and disconnection when the customer or prospect makes a phone call. Continuing their journey seamlessly requires the sharing of context and insight enabled by Cisco Context Service.

We’re looking forward to working with customers in their Cisco contact center deployments to bridge the context gap and supercharge their contact center agents with the power of the full customer journey view. No more “who are you and how can I help you” but “hello Mr. Smyth, I see what your question is and I can quickly help you” or better still “I have already resolved your issue, let’s talk about next steps!”


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Cisco Booth at Enterprise Connect 2015Screenshots of the integration in action in the Cisco Booth at Enterprise Connect 2015, March 17-19. As described above, Altocloud is keeping PODs in the Context Service up-to-date with all the customer journey and analytics information that occurs "before the call". The first screen shows a Cisco Finesse agent screenpop including Altocloud data about current and previous web journeys, which is pulled from the Context Service by a Finesse gadget. The second screen shows a click-through using links in the POD to a more detailed Altocloud visualization of the journey and surrounding customer context.

Altocloud and Cisco Context Service - Finesse

Altocloud and Cisco Context Service - Web Journey