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Cloud contact centers proliferate

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Innovation in the contact center is driven by ongoing cloud deployment projects.

For a long time, the contact center industry went unchanged as businesses felt no remorse when leveraging legacy solutions to meet critical customer service objectives. During the past several years, however, the costs and complexities associated with managing old phone systems in the contact center have begun taking a toll on companies. In many cases, organizations simply do not have the financial of human resources to support antiquated solutions that are not necessarily providing any significant return for the enterprise.

A recent CIO Magazine report highlighted how companies are transforming their contact centers through the use of cloud computing technologies. This is because the cloud has the ability to support next-generation business phone systems that can improve corporate relationships with prospective and existing clients. As a result, the contact center is much different than it was several years ago.

"You had to have dedicated support teams to manage, install and configure all of that infrastructure," contact center expert Ray Valentine told CIO. "Then you had to have the data centers with all the infrastructure to support those systems and keep them reliable."

The IT environment for contact centers in the past were largely unreliable and inefficient, preventing employees from carrying out tasks if there was too much traffic bogging down the network. Because the cloud is scalable, it is more agile and capable of handling fluctuating volumes of activity that would have traditionally halted operations.

Out with the old, in with the cloud

Contact centers with hosted PBX solutions in place are more likely to improve operations and reduce costs than their rivals still using traditional land line phone systems. For this reason, most firms with call centers are implementing the cloud to stay competitive. However, this increased demand is introducing the phenomenon known as "cloud washing," in which service providers advertise their products as cloud tools, though they are nothing more than reformatted premise-based services.

"A lot of folks say they offer cloud services, but it's not really cloud. They take their legacy, on-premises-based solutions and put them in a cloud-like scenario, but it's not built to be in a shared infrastructure environment," Valentine told the news source. "You find yourself limited in the features you might want to use because when you turn something on it impacts someone else on the shared hardware."

Despite this challenge, using a true cloud VoIP or other phone system can introduce significant benefits, including the ability to support remote connectivity to mobile devices from virtually anywhere. This is becoming increasingly popular as teleworking trends take shape and encourage decision-makers to deploy mobile strategies like bring your own device.

The cloud is also considered the great equalizer, as businesses of all sizes can use the technology without introducing significant management or financial responsibilities. As a result, even smaller companies can implement the cloud with their contact centers to reduce the gap between themselves and larger enterprises that have a greater amount of exhaustible resources.

"[The cloud] is a giant killer," Valentine asserted, according to CIO. "It used to be that only very large companies could afford the suite of products that a large client would need - 100 percent call recording, screen capture, advanced IVR and [cloud telephony integration]. Those were expensive tools with long-term commitments. With cloud solutions, a smaller company can compete with larger organizations."

The great cloud migration

A Destination CRM report highlighted how the cloud-based contact center infrastructure market is perpetually rising with no end in sight, while the traditional premise-based strategy is struggling to keep up. This is largely because the cloud not only provides organizations with more innovative immediate solutions, but it also acts as a gateway that allows firms to embrace new opportunities and long-term endeavors that make it easier to differentiate from the rest of the business world.

While many organizations initially migrated to the cloud to reduce expenses during the Great Recession, decision-makers quickly recognized that the cloud offers more than just financial restitution, as the technology clears the way for businesses to embrace the future, Destination CRM noted. This ability to innovate and map out long-term strategies has quickly become the primary reason for using the cloud in the contact center.

In the coming years, the cloud computing market will continue to evolve and expand in and outside of the contact center industry. Businesses that want to stay ahead and gain a leg up over competitors need to consider embracing the cloud as soon as possible. This could mean adopting a single cloud-based application to improve that solution's availability or implementing a company-wide cloud infrastructure to cut costs and dramatically improve operations. While neither of these initiatives are considered fundamental to an organization's underlying survival, failing to adopt the cloud will likely introduce significant challenges down the road.