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Twilio Flex provides a customizable cloud contact center platform

Twilio Flex offers a customizable interface that sits atop the vendor's application development platform. The offering could appeal to large enterprises looking for a flexible cloud contact center platform.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Twilio has entered the contact-center-as-a-service market with the unveiling of Twilio Flex, a...

highly customizable platform that could appeal to large enterprises searching for a flexible cloud contact center product. The vendor unveiled a preview of Flex at Enterprise Connect this week.

Flex is a cloud contact center user interface developers can customize with Twilio's cloud-based communication services. Available options for the omnichannel interface include voice calling to more than 100 countries, instant messaging, email, chat, video conferencing and Facebook Messenger. Companies can customize Flex to meet the needs of service agents, administrators and supervisors.

The developer tools for customizing Flex are the same ones used with Twilio's communications platform as a service, which is used today by hundreds of thousands of customer service agents worldwide.

The tools, called Twilio Studio, provide a drag-and-drop development environment for building applications and workflows. Studio also offers integration with third-party online business applications, such as Salesforce and Zendesk.

Most contact center products come with nearly all of their capabilities prebuilt, which can make customization time-consuming and expensive. "So, Twilio's idea is they are going to give you the core components, and you put them together any way you want," said Donna Fluss, president of DMG Consulting LLC, based in West Orange, N.J.

Twilio said it was developing an ecosystem of partners to provide one-click integration with applications for analytics, reporting, storage and workforce management. Twilio's partners currently include IBM, Ytica and Verint.

Twilio started with a set of APIs for voice and SMS communications, said Dan Miller, lead analyst and founder of Opus Research, based in San Francisco. More recently, through partnerships with vendors such as Zendesk and Seranova, the company developed comprehensive contact center capabilities, he said.

With the Flex platform, Twilio is "promising a value proposition around its demonstrated ability to scale and support a multitude of on-premises or cloud-based implementations," Miller said.

Twilio Flex offers cloud contact center for large enterprises

Twilio is marketing Flex to large businesses and independent software vendors. The platform, which will be available by the end of 2018, can support up to 50,000 agents per instance. Customers of that scale would take Twilio beyond its traditional base of SMBs.

Twilio is targeting the large enterprise customers of vendors like Cisco, Avaya and Genesys, Fluss said. "They are coming out guns shooting on this one."

With the Flex platform, Twilio will go head-to-head with some of its resellers and customers, Miller said. Also, it will compete with Amazon Connect, the cloud contact center platform Amazon Web Services released last year, as well as preconfigured contact-center-as-a-service products from Five9, 8x8 and NICE.

"Twilio's strategy is to tout well-honed tools and flexibility in configuration to capture a share of a growing CCaaS market," Miller said.

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