Are You Headed for Cloud Nine?
By Frank Tersigni, Chief Customer Officer, Altivon
As the novelty of cloud services wears off, those involved in planning the evolution of contact centers are beginning to give cloud serious consideration. Initial jubilation (and fear) have given way to an understanding that there may be a place for cloud—and maybe premise as well—in many contact center solutions. What is also clear is that cloud is not for everyone.
So now the challenge is to determine in what situations cloud is a viable or even attractive option. Meeting that challenge begins with an open mind.
Appearances can be deceiving
In the 1950s there was a popular TV show called “What’s My Line?” where celebrity panelists tried to guess the contestant’s job. The panelists could only ask yes/no questions. The only information they had was the contestant’s name and hometown, plus how they looked and sounded. Yet that small amount of information often biased the panel, preventing them from figuring out the contestant’s line of work.
When upgrading the contact center it can likewise be easy to start with a bias for a particular deployment method, such as cloud or premise. However, doing so can result in a selection that does not meet fundamental requirements of the operation.
To ensure that your implementation feels like Cloud Nine (even if you end up choosing premise!) consider the following nine questions. Your answers should help you determine which parts of your operation should be deployed to the cloud or on premise. Keep in mind that many contact centers now have hybrid environments.
Question 1: What is your outage tolerance?
Can your organization tolerate occasional contact center outages? Are there regulations that affect your industry from a ‘mandated uptime’ perspective? What outage duration and frequency can your business withstand before there are significant financial and reputational repercussions?
Organizations that have extreme uptime requirements may be better served with an on-premise solution, where they can maintain control over the environment and design it to provide very high degrees of reliability. Cloud may still be an option for some components that are not critical to the operation.
Question 2: Is the upgrade funded by capital or operational budget?
Is there a strong incentive to fund the contact center with operational budgets? Or is a capital expense preferred? Does it matter?
Organizations that prefer to fund their contact center investment from operational budgets can be well-served by both cloud and on-premise solutions. However, capitalizing cloud solutions can be a challenge. As well, it is not uncommon to have end user departments act on their own and deploy smaller standalone cloud-based contact centers using operating budgets, which don’t have the same approval processes and scrutiny as capital budgets.
Question 3: Can you tolerate spikes in maintenance?
Is there a strong incentive for consistent maintenance costs or are occasional 'spikes' associated with upgrades acceptable?
The on-premise model can drive a lower level of regular operational expense, but capital expenses “spike” with upgrades. The cloud model reduces the frequency and expense of these spikes, amortizing costs into more regular, predictable operational expenses.
Question 4: What is your implementation deadline?
Do you need to implement new technology by a specific date? If so, can you tolerate missing that date?
Implementation is typically faster for cloud-based solutions. This has significant value to organizations with aggressive, fixed implementation schedules.
Question 5: Will the system be integrated with others, like CRM?
Do your agents need access to data from other applications? Which ones? How do you want agents to interact with these applications?
Cloud-based contact center solutions have significant limitations in how they integrate with other applications. A detailed review of use cases may find that on-premise is the better choice.
Question 6: What is your contact center load variability?
Does your contact center see significant variability in load? Is optimizing contact center staffing levels a key challenge?
Cloud solutions can quickly scale capacity up or down to meet variable demands. This is an appreciable advantage to organizations with high variability, providing virtually instantaneous scaling of capacity and expense to meet need.
Question 7: Is your contact center data governed by confidentiality requirements?
Does your contact center handle sensitive data? What regulatory or governance requirements apply to this data? Is data residency a concern?
On-premise solutions are often a better fit for organizations that process sensitive data and/or are subject to stringent regulatory requirements.
Question 8: Do you have IT resources dedicated to the contact center?
Do you have an established IT organization capable of managing critical infrastructure?
Many IT departments do not have the resources to maintain a critical, highly-available contact center solution. In this situation, a cloud solution can often be a better fit.
Question 9: Do you require unique functionality?
What are the key functions that comprise your vision for your contact center? Voice? Email? Social Media? Interaction recording? Surveys? Video? Chatbots?
A detailed examination of functional requirements can sometimes reveal capabilities that are 'unique' enough that they are not provided by cloud solutions.
Arriving at Cloud Nine
Clouds were given scientific classifications less than 250 years ago, though people have been fascinated by them for millennia. The initial classification system was expanded from 7 to 10 types, including Cumulonimbus as #9. Legend has it that the phrase ‘on cloud nine’ stems from the idea that this towering thunderhead comes closest to heaven.
Keeping an open mind as you consider your deployment options should help you get the closest to your Cloud Nine. This neutral approach—to deployment method as well as other critical decisions in the contact center—is the best basis for a solid long-term decision. A solution provider that can deliver cloud or premise or hybrid deployments based solely on your real requirements and not on a preconceived notion is the best partner for your continued success.
About the Author
Frank Tersigni is Chief Customer Officer at Altivon, providing senior executive focus on Altivon’s customer relationships. Tersigni travels extensively, sharing best practices with contact center executives embracing contact center technologies, customer experience management and the effortless experience. He has been involved with contact center and communications technologies since 1978. Altivon builds and supports some of the largest, most complex contact center solutions in North America and is the only Genesys partner to deploy solutions on each of its full portfolio of technology platforms.