Cloud-Based Contact Center: Does it Make Sense for Your Business?

Ask the Experts

Cloud-Based Contact Center: Does it Make Sense for Your Business?

By TMCnet Special Guest
  |  October 01, 2012

This article originally appeared in the Sept. issue of CUSTOMER magazine.

There’s no question the cloud gives contact centers and businesses a viable option for communications. Yet in deciding between the cloud and a premises-based solution, some businesses are still unsure which option is best for them. Here are some of the questions being asked by contact center decision makers, with answers from two communications industry authorities.

As companies consider moving business communications to the cloud, what are the primary benefits they can expect?

Staples/Interactive Intelligence (News - Alert): Based on what we’ve seen from our customers, the benefits have really been focused in four areas. The first, and most prevalent, is the increased flexibility the cloud provides. This includes things like adding and contracting user counts based on usage, easier access to new functionality, the ability to trial new applications, and the ease of adding users in new locations.

We also hear about the benefit of how the cloud can allow for faster deployment times. Since the entire back-end infrastructure at the data center is already in place, the planning phase is reduced, and customers can be up and running in a much shorter amount of time – often a few weeks.

A third benefit, which is really fueling the growth in the cloud-based contact center space, is the ability to deploy up to date technology with minimal upfront capital expense. Another benefit is reduced IT requirements. This doesn’t mean in-house staff is abdicating responsibility for the contact center, but they are able to delegate much of the day-to-day management and administration to the service provider.

Is it more difficult to integrate a cloud-based contact center infrastructure solution than a premises-based one?

Fluss/DMG Consulting: Few integrations are easy, whether the solutions are premises-based or in the cloud. The issue is not where the solution is located, but rather about the integration framework and capabilities. When applications are built using standards-based and open technology, such as Web services, it is easier to integrate them with other third-party or home-grown applications that use the same approach.

Many of the premises-based contact center solutions have been retrofitted to include a Web services integration layer, while a growing number of newer cloud-based solutions are built using a services-oriented architecture. Solutions that use SOA have been built from the ground up to facilitate integration. While resources are required for any integration, when they are standards based, the learning curve and cost are typically lower.

Hosted/cloud-based solution vendors are highly motivated to get their offerings up and running as quickly as possible, because they do not earn revenue until the system is in production. Additionally, end users have made it clear that a primary reason for selecting a cloud-based offering is that they do not have the money to pay for an expensive and lengthy implementation. Most cloud-based contact center infrastructure vendors have hired experienced integration and implementation resources, and are doing a good job of keeping these costs down. Many cloud-based vendors offer fixed implementation and integration fees that compare favorably with the cost of similar premises-based efforts; they appreciate that their revenue comes from monthly reoccurring fees, not start-up charges.

When does it make sense to consider a cloud-based contact center, and when is it better to acquire a premises-based solution?

Fluss/DMG Consulting: It depends on the specifics of each situation. Prospects should perform both total cost of ownership and return on investment analyses to assess their unique needs. There are also some generally applicable guidelines to follow.

It is likely to be more beneficial to purchase a premises-based solution if your organization:

  • plans to keep the contact center solution for more than three years
  • does not plan to upgrade it
  • has relatively experienced resources to staff and support it
  • does not need to scale up and down
  • has the money to make a large up-front capital investment

It is likely to be more beneficial to use a cloud-based contact center infrastructure solution if your organization:

  • is capital-constrained
  • plans to take advantage of new functionality to gain a competitive advantage
  • needs many people to maintain a premises-based solution
  • needs to scale up and down throughout the year
  • uses multiple sites, which may include at-home agents

Many CFOs prefer to invest in cloud-based solutions rather than purchasing licenses for systems and applications, because it gives them more flexibility. Cloud-based solutions require no capital investment, little to no implementation and integration fees, payments that scale in line with business activity, no support costs, limited risk and obligations, and ongoing investment protection (no need to pay for upgrades).

Staples (News - Alert)/Interactive Intelligence: We recommend to all customers that they consider both premises and cloud options. They may quickly gravitate to one of the two choices, but in the evaluation and planning phase, we feel customers are best served by considering both options.

Download the complete whitepaper to learn more:

Cloud-based Contact Center: Does it Make Sense for Your Business?

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This article was written by Donna Fluss, founder & president of DMG Consulting; and Joe Staples, CMO at Interactive Intelligence.

Edited by Braden Becker
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