Is it time to move your contact center to the cloud?
Recent research indicates the cloud is coming of age for contact centers
Last month, Forrester produced a stellar piece of research on the rate of cloud adoption by call centers, (Forrester Research, Inc., Is It Time To Move Your Contact Center to the Cloud? June, 2012). The good news is the report author, Art Schoeller, predicts that adoption of cloud technologies by call centers will only increase, since the technology has become more mainstream and more mature. Additionally, the previous barriers to entry, including security and reliability concerns, have been reduced over the past few years as cloud providers have successfully addressed these issues.
In 2012, the adoption rate for cloud technology is predicted to increase significantly for IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a Service) and SaaS (Software as a Service). So whether organizations are seeking to move their CRM or the entire telephony platform to the cloud, adoption rates are due to increase fairly dramatically throughout the rest of 2012.
In fact, the report indicates that “By the end of 2012, 45% of all companies will be using SaaS, rising to 60% in the years to come.”
Cloud technology has been around for many years. Why is it that the contact center has been so slow to adopt it? As the report points out, the architecture tends to have longer life cycles; an ACD might last 10-15 years. Additionally, let’s not underestimate the power of call center managers to resist change. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” runs strong in an environment where every tool is subject to cost-cutting measures. If a call center can squeeze a few more years out of a current infrastructure piece or tool, why disrupt the entire operation by introducting new technology? From the report:
Many contact center managers who operate at a single site see limited value in the migration to voice over IP (VoIP) and will only do so when a vendor declares the existing application’s end of life.
Shift to an integrated suite model
Interestingly, the report cites one more challenge that represents a shift in thinking: most current centers were designed with a best-of-breed approach, meaning that existing call center infrastructure and software tools, from the ACD to CTI to IVR, were all selected as best-of-breed from specialty vendors. However, this best-of-breed model is shifting more towards an integrated suite model in which one provider supplies and manages a variety of applications. This shift leaves current organizations in a quandary: either integrate current systems with some cloud applications or wait until all current infrastructure depreciates fully and replace the entire kit and caboodle.
(On a related note, Spoken has addressed this quandry by offering extremely flexible integration options with any current infrastructure or systems that might not yet be at end of life. Custom integration with legacy systems is essential at this point in the cloud adoption cycle to ensure that clients can recoup all the investments made in existing systems. Reduce, reuse, recycle. And if necessary and timely, replace.)
Additionally, the benefits of an integrated suite model for contact centers include:
- Reducing headaches. With fewer discreet vendors and systems to manage, organizations can focus less on keeping contact center applications running and more on their core business.
- Simplifying reporting. One suite of applications usually translates into one cohesive, integrated reporting structure.
- Shifting maintenance. When a vendor is reponsible for a suite of applications, that provider also handles MACs (moves, adds and changes), saving the organization considerable time and resources.
Also, many providers have partnered with larger suppliers to enhance their suite offerings with well-known technology brands, so the risk of engaging in an integrated suite solution with a small or mid-size provider is mitigated.
What are your thoughts on the rate of cloud applications by contact centers?
Spoken Communications provides an integrated suite of applications for the call center. Find out more.