Is Omnichannel Dead?

July, 2020

Omnichannel first showed its face when software vendors for contact centers started deploying digital channels such as chat and email. But then, as now, most systems are siloed. There is a serious issue here, about how IT systems are engineered and deployed to support all media types.
The airwaves these days are full of articles extolling both the endurance and the death of omnichannel. For example, on the plus side we see statements such as:

“Omnichannel provides a seamless experience across all media channels to reflect and match the customer’s preferences.”

Nothing wrong with that, but it doesn’t really say anything new. For example if you turn the statement around, then would any company admit to NOT using all voice and digital channels to contact their customers, seamlessly? Of course not!

And it is probably legitimate to call omnichannel dead, if you prefer to use the word multichannel to imply that you can contact your customers on all channels at any time, again switching seamlessly between channels, be they voice, chat, email or video!

So let the marketing folk weave their magic spells.

The reality

But there is a serious issue here, about how IT systems are engineered and deployed to support all media types. Omnichannel first showed its face when software vendors for contact centers started deploying digital channels such as chat and email. And, the simple point was – and still is – that vendors could say that they supported all channels.

But then, as now, most systems are siloed. Agents can only log into one system at a time and often there is no realtime access to a complete view of all customer activity. If you want to provide an exceptional customer experience, agents need the ability to instantly switch between media types to respond to customer wishes. For example, if a text chat session is not going well, then the agent should have the ability to turn that session immediately into a live voice call.

The limitations of ACDs

The fundamental problem is that ACDs were designed for voice, dealing with queueing, routing and resource management/load/balancing. They were not designed to meet current challenges. For example:

  • Concurrent sessions
    Chat takes place on different timescales, and an agent will potentially be able to manage multiple sessions concurrently.
  • Preferred agent
    The service journey may involve multiple sessions using different media; you may want the agent who handled initial contact with the customer to manage follow-up to give the best customer experience. How to prioritise processing the email follow-up from a customer when the best agent is fully occupied on inbound calls at peak period?
  • Multidimensional SLAs
    Voice is simple. But chat SLAs govern both initial response time and time taken to send a message to a customer while in a chat dialog. What about bringing in chat agents to handle voice demand during peak periods? And the trade-offs to be made on between voice and chat SLAs?
  • Blending
    When the agent has multiple concurrent sessions in progress.
The siloed systems that gave birth to Omnichannel just don’t support this new way of working.

The solution?

What is required is a complete rethink of how the underpinning ACD is engineered to seamlessly allow agents and customers to move immediately between all channels, whilst maintaining a 360 degree view of all customer data. In the process the ACD becomes the Automated Session Distributor (ASD®), managing sessions of all media types.

And it’s not just about the customer. Re-inventing the ACD so that it takes on the wider role of an ASD® applies to agent handling of both multiple concurrent sessions and multiple media types. It enables agents to be far better engaged and to play a much more valuable and interesting role in a contact center. More job variety and much less idle time.

It probably also means you can rethink your legacy WFM systems. An ASD® will provide workforce planning outputs that allow you to plan staffing but will also manage the media landscape in real-time to ensure 100% occupancy, regardless of peaks and troughs in call, chat and email volumes.

So what to call this brave new world, where the ACD gives way to the ASD® and tools are in place to blend all media channels in realtime? Watch this space!

For more information about any of Sytel’s products just talk to us.

What We Offer

Sytel Limited develops and supplies Softdial Contact Center® (SCC), offering multimedia, multichannel, fully blended cloud contact center solutions, for quick and easy deployment by partners offering CCaaS or enterprise users. All Sytel cloud components are secure, resilient and scale seamlessly from 10 agents to 10,000+, whether local, mobile or remote.

  • Flexible Contact Center Platform

    Softdial Contact Center™ - tightly integrated modules, designed to deliver at scale

  • Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS)

    Partners can run a functionally rich and flexible contact center stack in the cloud

  • Blended Media Desktop

    Fully customisable, multi-channel, multi-session workspace

  • Work Anywhere

    Browser-based tools, no software installation required

  • Cloud Or On-Premise, Multi-Tenant

    Scalable, resilient, secure, proven

  • Customise, Localise, White Label

    Design all user interfaces to individual requirements

  • Integration Via APIs

    'Swap out' components and integrate with 3rd party apps

  • World Class Development

    Continuous evolution pushing technical boundaries


Softdial Contact Center™ (SCC) is designed to be flexible, extensible and scalable, integrating with any legacy equipment, and meeting the most complex of requirements.

  • All Media Types

    Voice, chat, email, social, etc - fully integrated and blended

  • Agent Multi-Tasking

    Work with multiple live contact sessions of any media type
  • Dynamic Workforce Management

    Automated, ‘best available’ decisions to manage agents & balance work load, across all media types

  • Predictive Dialing

    Best-of-breed performance under compliance

  • Optimised Inbound Routing

    Smart rules and 'best-available' decisions to drive great customer service

  • Agent Scripts

    Help agents achieve and maintain excellence

  • Voice and Screen Recording

    See and hear exactly how agents are interacting

  • Analytics and Data Feeds

    Measure and evaluate performance at every level

  • IVR, Bots & Conversational AI

    Design effective automated flows or integrate with 3rd party providers

  • Customer Journey Tracking

    Stored customer contact history, to aid routing and add context to conversations


A complete suite of tools, with unique flexibility to extend and swap out modules to deliver a tailored contact center solution for any environment
  • Softdial One™

    Highly flexible unified web UI for agents, supervisors and administrators
  • Softdial Scripter™

    Create complex process flow scripts for agents, IVR, chatbots and other applications

  • Sytel AI Dialer™

    Best-of-breed predictive dialer; maximum performance under any compliance rules

  • Softdial Pathfinder™

    Precise routing rules for 'best available' connection
  • Softdial Media Server™

    Core telephony functions to manage all inbound/ outbound SIP calls

  • Softdial Reporter™ 5

    Fully customisable performance stats, charts and reports, across all channels

  • Softdial Publisher™

    Comprehensive data output to build your own reports

  • Softdial Recording Monitor™

    Audio and screen recording of agent activity to ensure the highest standards
  • Softdial Campaign Manager™

    Automation to optimise any outreach strategy
  • Softdial Repository™

    Central storage and configuration of common resources
  • Sytel Global Compliance™

    Flexible 'no contact' rules to protect contact center and consumer


Performance and efficiency for a wide range of business applications

  • Customer Service

    Connect quickly to well equipped agents

  • Sales & Telemarketing

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  • Healthcare

    Secure, highly-configurable multichannel communications for excellence in patient care

  • Market Research

    Best-of-breed predictive dialing with CATI integration

  • Collections

    Automated inbound/ outbound blending integrated with any debt management app