We are delighted to have led Operata's seed round. Operata monitors performance and analyses quality data from calls from cloud-based call centres, drawing on a range of data sources to pinpoint call quality issues and speed up the path to problem resolution.
Aug 5, 2021 · 4 min read
The Tidal team recently made an investment into Operata, and we're publishing our investment notes below. We invest across a range of markets, models and products. There are core principles that we live and die by in our investment decisions. For more information on the pillars that make a great Tidal Seed Investment, see how we invest here.
The economic efficiencies around shared services are a no-brainer, so the as-a-service movement has extended to contact centres. Even though only 10% of organisations have migrated from legacy on-premise solutions to the contact-centre-as-a-service (CCaaS) model, the market size is already US$24BN. The market is well-established, but still forecast to grow at a 26% CAGR, with the remote-work movement accelerating this trend.
The organisations that made this move prior to the COVID-19 outbreak were well positioned for their agents to work from home. Those that didn't have been rushing to stand up a remote contact centre for the past twelve months. With the likes of NICE InContact, AWS Connect and Genesys taking the bulk of market share, a distribution platform for supporting products is emerging.
Voice technology is rapidly improving, but the quality of speech and voice is more critical than ever. Voice quality directly impacts customer satisfaction, handling times (and therefore costs) for the organisation and even agent mental health. Voice is also no longer just a human to human channel. Bots, assistants, NLP and biometrics are all reliant on voice quality for performance, further complicating the voice infrastructure stack.
A complex infrastructure stack creates a product opportunity
Whilst the CCaaS offerings in the market are designed as simple tools, the implementation of a CCaaS system is both complex and mission-critical. To stand up a contact centre requires proven performance - scalability, quality, and accuracy all need to be tested and evidenced to make a transition. Data resides in silos throughout the org and it's hard to surface issues in the CCaaS setup without observability - performance issues can be attributed not only to the CCaaS provider, but to the supporting third-party services and often to the agents themselves.
Today, businesses have few options but to manually test the technical and functional requirements of their various contact centre systems, requiring testers to call their business phone systems and engage in web chat or other outreach channels to identify defects, disruptions, or disconnections in their experiences. The tools used to monitor performance today in modern cloud communications are ineffective at measuring customer experience quality and providing the level of detail needed to focus improvement and optimise performance.
Operata provides performance monitoring and experience management for CCaaS. The product observes and reports on the factors impacting call quality, from a network outage to an agent headset issue. This enables two things:
The product demonstrates an obvious and real-time ROI to the organisation, because fewer issues and better call quality means service agents can spend their time resolving customer issues.
The 'hook' for the customer is the ability for service delivery and IT Operations managers to uncover correlated quality insights on contact centre performance (ie. actually identifying the source of the performance issue rather than the mere existence of one). These users live in the tool day by day and rely on it to help uncover performance issues in real time.
Our thesis: If Operata can bring observability and test/iterate capabilities into the CCaaS ecosystem, it will become a critical part of the reference architecture required for efficient and low-risk CCaaS adoption. Over time, this product could become famous for providing 'speech-services-as-code' for multi-vendor communications services.
Co-founders Andy (COO) and John (CTO) have been in the voice service delivery and performance management space for 40+ years between them. They understand the complexity of this customer problem in all of its excruciating detail. Teamed up with experienced founder-operator Romilly Blackburn (Whispir & Smooch.io), this group of co-founders have what it takes to build a world-class solution for this problem - and grow into a critical platform company for modern cloud communications infrastructure.
With an established distribution ecosystem of CCaaS and ISV's and a low-friction product that plugs straight into the agents' softphone via a Chrome browser, Operata is well positioned to achieve product-led growth. Because the use of Operata de-risks the move from on-premise to cloud, the product is an enabler to the adoption of CCaaS. This means that Operata not only aligns itself with this high growth market, but becomes a growth accelerator for its CCaaS partners as they pioneer the migration to the cloud.
Andy, John and Romilly have assembled an excellent team of engineers that have built an enterprise-grade product with minimal external funding. Near term, the product will evolve to integrate across additional CCaaS providers, and become even more sophisticated within the internal service desk ecosystem. There are already a number of organisations in Australia, NZ, the UK and the US that are using Operata on a daily basis to monitor call quality and resolve issues. The next step is to create a repeatable go-to-market engine through both partners and a sophisticated growth marketing function that interfaces closely with the product team.
Tidal has been monitoring the observability thematic for some time, and this investment follows our recent investment in TheLoops. Observability is a measure of how well internal states of a system can be inferred from knowledge of its external outputs. As cloud architecture and the software technology stack becomes increasingly distributed, there is a need for observability (rather than merely monitoring) to provide granular, system-level insights and context to specific parts of the organisation.
Operata is bringing observability to cloud-based call centres, helping call centre agents and operations personnel to improve their understanding of the environment, and in turn, vastly improve their customer experience. We look forward to supporting the Operata founders and team as they take Operata to the next level.
If you're a visionary founder who is ready to make waves, please reach out via our website.
What makes Tidal's Principal tick? Our Q&A uncovers Georgie Turner's love for the Seed phase and operator background.
Somya Kapoor and Ravi Bulusu, the co-founders of TheLoops, are serial entrepreneurs. Find out why they came together and how they think about product-building and finding the right investors.