GUEST BLOG: The Contact Centre, Customer Service and The Cloud

7th Apr 2016

Liron Golan is the Director Enterprise Portfolio Marketing at NICE Systems and a 'cloudoholic'. In this latest guest blog he discusses the ways in which contact centres and customer service operations can move forward to adopt cloud technologies, and the benefits they can gain from making that move.

Cloud computing is a great technology, allowing organisations, big (and small), to enjoy a flexible footprint, to use shared resources, to access data from anywhere and to ensure they have the latest capabilities and regulatory updates.

Although the notion of delivering software as a service, where users pay for shared resources based on their usage, has been around for decades, it is only recently that we’ve seen this technology be fully embraced by contact centre and business operations sectors.

In the following article I would like to discuss the ways in which contact centres and customer service operations can move forward to adopt cloud technologies, and the benefits they can gain from making that move.

According to Gartner (“Cloud Computing Changes the Vendor Landscape”) - as more applications are built on a cloud-based model, SaaS will emerge as a critical selection factor at all levels of the customer service contact centre, satisfying a need to both dynamically manage staffing but also to effectively utilise best resourced locations. Gartner projects that the SaaS market will grow at 19.5% annually through 2016 and that global SaaS spending will grow to $32.8 billion in 2016. 

When it comes to cloud services, SMB (Small-Medium Business) and cloud technology is a great pairing. Cloud adoption gives SMBs access to state-of-the art technology at a fraction of the cost, provides greater flexibility and the ability to keep up with technological changes. Companies have been swift to embrace “the cloud” as they can see huge commercial and financial benefits.

For enterprise-grade organisations, we’re starting to see a gradual migration of non-mission critical services to the cloud.

While the obvious starting point to moving to the cloud would be infrastructure replacement (after all, the cloud notion emerged from CAPEX and TCO reduction), it’s actually the hardest one to implement. The fact that contact centre infrastructure, such as core ACD and PBX applications, has long life cycles of 10 to 15 years between major architectural changes means that many customers have been locked into older premise-based products for decades. Add to this conservative contact centre IT managers, who depend on the performance of their applications to meet their service levels, and who also need a strong justification to disrupt their operations with new technology. 

This is the perfect place to clear up a misconception—cloud isn’t an ‘all or nothing’ play. Many customer service leaders make the assumption that they will need to move all the component applications to the cloud at once.

However, that is not the case. The 'sweet spot' lies in the contact centre software, as CRM customer service and WFO (Work Force Optimisation) technologies are also shifting to the cloud. Most likely, these services will be hosted either on a private cloud, or in a community cloud. Forrester research  found that 15% of software decision-makers, who have implemented customer service and support software, have already replaced all or most of their on-premises customer service applications with software-as-a-service solutions.

The most challenging part of starting a cloud migration project is always taking the first few steps. But you can get the ball rolling in your company by making a solid case for a move to the cloud by focusing attention on the many benefits we’ve laid out here.

Work Force Optimisation(WFO) can be the pioneer test case, which lays a path to the cloud for other applications to follow. And you can take advantage of the move to introduce forecasting and scheduling to business operations and performance management across the organisation.

Author: Liron Golan, NICE Systems

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