On call in the cloud: The case for SMBs transforming their contact centres


Cloud computing has transformed almost every aspect of business IT, and call centres are the next sector ripe for cloud adoption. For SMBs, cloud contact centres are particularly attractive, offering lower costs, greater flexibility and the capacity to have an enterprise-class system catering to a smaller organisation.

Call centres have undergone major transformations in the last two decades, primarily with the shift from PSTN to Voice over IP, a move that increased the flexibility of the centre’s operations. However, these installations remained predominantly on-premise, with all the associated costs, including maintenance, upgrades and support, that goes along with doing things in-house.

By going cloud, an SMB can avoid all the cost, complexity and hassle of an on-premise system, while gaining the flexibility and cost-effectiveness they need.

It’s about capex vs opex

One of the most common arguments for cloud is that it shifts IT expenditure from being capital expenditure (capex) to an operational expense, or opex. Flexible monthly fees from cloud vendors, and the promise of ongoing upgrades, industrial strength security and guaranteed uptime make cloud an attractive proposition, especially for a smaller organisation that may be cash-constrained, or hamstrung by the need to maintain everything in house.

According to a recent report[1] from industry analysts Frost & Sullivan, businesses operating in the call centre space receive a host of cloud-based benefits. These include the reduction and simplification of ongoing maintenance; faster deployment and realisation of business value; ease of provisioning and managing distributed sites and remote agents; and flexibility, scalability and business agility.

One of the many challenges associated with an on-premise call centre deployment is the fact that they’re generally comprised of a host of systems, often from different vendors, that have been integrated to operate together.

Go gradually, no need to rip and replace

This increases complexity and cost, but that doesn’t mean your organisation has to rip and replace everything in one go. For a smaller organisation, cloud can be introduced incrementally as systems need replacing.

For an SMB, moving to the cloud gradually is the best path. This means replacing an existing system with cloud as it reaches end of life. There is, however, a caveat.  New cloud systems will need to integrate with older systems until the entire operation is cloud-based. This is called a hybrid infrastructure, and it is something IT needs to manage in conjunction with the chosen cloud service provider.

Hybrid provides the answers

What the increasing number of call centre cloud deployments have demonstrated, both locally and overseas, is that a hosted solution now provides the best possible answer for an business wanting to renew its infrastructure. It’s also clear that hybrid solutions – a stop-gap between being fully hosted and being on-premise, is clearly more desirable that a pure on-premise solution.

When it comes to selecting a vendor for your cloud solution, the key considerations should be ease of integration and management in relation to a hybrid infrastructure, as well as rapid deployment, high security and industry leading up time.

With those things in mind, and with the cost and flexibility benefits that go with it, cloud is clearly the answer to the needs of the call centre enterprise both now and into the future.

 


About the Author

Kristen Pimpini is Managing Director of Aspect Software ANZ, a global leader in customer contact management and workforce optimisation.

[1] http://www.growthconsulting.frost.com/web/images.nsf/0/E7F12F31A2E9B092862579B900499D59/$File/CloudContactCenterMarketTrends.pdf