by Tony Zmudzin, Director, TPI
Several weeks ago I posted the first installment of a 2-part blog that explored what the proliferation of Cloud-computing solutions means for contact center services, and I touched on the array of appealing offerings on the market today. Can the many potential Cloud-based solutions be beneficial for contact centers? Are truly virtualized operations achieveable? I encourage you to read part 1 if you haven't already.
Now I turn to several major factors to consider if you're contemplating the move to a Cloud Computing-based contact center model. The market offers something for every buyer, but you must take it upon yourself to conduct proper due diligence when considering whether the Cloud deliver practical and measurable results to your organization. Here is TPI's advice for how to frame your thinking:
Buyers should assess their operational considerations (many of them internal) as they consider moving to a Cloud Computing-based contact center model. If your agents will be remote from your facility, you will no longer be able to walk the aisles, hear the center’s “buzz” and be able to identify service or training needs first hand. You will need to establish a new management model, train or otherwise retool your management team to effectively manage remote performance and establish training competencies for your remote agents.
Security demands special consideration inasmuch as the buyer’s enterprise is extending its operations to third parties. Security components include public versus private or virtual private Cloud, physical facility security, desktop lockdown, browser cleansing, network security, encryption for data storage and transmission, network security (multilayer firewalling and network intrusion systems), data backup, application-level protection, and industry certifications such as PCI Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Buyers should evaluate the ability to perform independent security certification and auditing of the service provider’s service solution.
Other general considerations include implementing multicarrier redundancy as part of the solution; eliminating single points of failure; and ensuring that privacy and security solutions meet industry and client requirements. You also should consider service provider plans and commitments for continual innovation and refresh of hardware and software components, provider solution integration with existing buyer applications, and responsibility for new interfaces to internal applications, ongoing integration management, and maintenance.
It is vital for any enterprise to view a Cloud implementation as a strategic decision. Small to medium-sized businesses are most active in exploring the total cost of ownership benefits offered by Cloud-based solutions. Enterprises that have large installed call center infrastructures should assess the fit and purpose of a Cloud-based solution against their current investment. Parallel model office, pilot testing or geographical location expansion are good approaches for larger enterprises to protect the brand and established customer relationships. Regardless, a wide range of business issues must be codified in the statement of work and agreement. These issues involve physical and logical security, platform availability, disaster recovery/business continuity coverage, data backup requirements, data ownership terms, pricing, reporting and terms that facilitate “easy” expansion and contraction of support for changing transaction volumes.
Finally, buyers should assess their governance maturity and competency. A multi-operational and/or multivendor environment requires a specific kind of governance structure and process set. Buyers enhance their opportunity for success by having the right governance talent, experience, tools and methods.
Cloud-based call center solutions represent the latest available option to consumers of contact center services and should be viewed as a real potential alternative to internal or available service solution market offerings from third-party providers. These solutions, as with any other buying decisions, must be supported by solid business and sourcing strategies. Buyers must remember that these solutions transfer responsibility for the services, operations or processes to a third-party provider in a big way. The provider is now an integrator — not a traditional service provider putting agents in seats. Buyers need to ensure they are ready to successfully manage on this new horizon, and then choose wisely.
In 2010, Orange Business Services surveyed 500 multinational corporations in 12 European countries across the financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, retail and transportation industries regarding those organizations’ “application management plans and attitudes among decision makers.” Survey findings revealed that only 95 of the 500 companies — or 19 percent — planned to virtualize their call center applications. The survey summary played down the number, but a different way to look at this is that if the 19 percent is applied against the US$300 billion internal and sourced global market, there will be much activity and leverage of this solution option.
If you are considering a Cloud-based solution for your contact center, our experts can help you every step of the way. Contact me at email@example.com.