Is anyone else weary of the word cloud? It seems like the buzzword keeps gathering strength, in both business and consumer circles. Your great aunt and uncle are probably storing photos from their smartphones in the cloud. And it’s hard to glance at a business publication these days without seeing more and more mission critical systems moving to the cloud. In January 2014, Forbes magazine reported businesses in the U.S. will spend more than $13 billion on cloud computing and managed hosting services during the calendar year.
So what about the contact center? Is it time to join the land rush? The smarter move might be to hold the horses. Slow things down from full stampede to comfortable trot. Here’s why.
We do think the time is right for at least some elements of the contact center to begin transitioning to the cloud. We’ll even go so far as to say that WFO, WFM, and analytics – like many business systems before them, such as sales force automation – will inevitably find their way to the cloud. The cost efficiencies and scalability make perfect sense. And who doesn’t want to be able to turn on seats at peak periods of demand.
But there are obvious issues to account for: security, regulatory compliance, privacy, vendor lock-in, even cost. For instance, what’s the true cost if suddenly bandwidth demands increase and require system enhancements?
We’re seeing many successful deployments take place as hybrid solutions. In fact, we see it a lot because we work in multiple environments, not just one or the other. Neither 100 percent on-premises nor 100 percent cloud-based, these implementations start with two basic questions: What makes sense to transition to the cloud? And what never makes sense?
Consider a company defined by complete vertical integration. Built into its DNA is a desire for end-to-end control over not just the products it sells but also the way the business operates. However, as its WFO solution continues to evolve, some new aspects can be evaluated for deployment. For instance, international operations are expanding, and it’s easier and more cost-effective to meet these new demands of scale and flexibility via the cloud.
In other instances – health care is a good example – archival records of customer interactions most likely need to stay on-site. Keeping that kind of information behind the firewall mitigates risk.
The point we make is actually an extension of what we say for all contact center deployments. No two environments are the same. No two companies have the same business goals or operational requirements. That’s for on-premises, full cloud, and hybrid. Even if you could find apples to compare to apples, one is a Fuji and the other Granny Smith. If anyone makes the claim the cloud is the only answer, look elsewhere; buyer beware. Accelerating business performance starts by unlocking the voice of the customer, but how a company goes about that is best left to the leadership and strategic imperatives of each company.
Ultimately, we find the term cloud too bland and ill-fitting for solving the challenges at hand. Got an executive calling for cloud innovation in 2015? Are engineering teams clamoring for cloud solutions today? If so, take the time to define terms.
Edited by Maurice Nagle