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Cloud or On-Premises Contact Center: It's Your Choice

By Special Guest
Nancy Jamison, Principal Analyst, Frost & Sullivan
July 03, 2019

A Conversation with Jim Noble & Frost & Sullivan’s Nancy Jamison, Part 1, Noble Inbound & Cloud

Recently, Nancy Jamison, Principal Analyst at Frost & Sullivan had an opportunity to sit down and chat with Jim Noble, President & CEO of Noble Systems.  They discussed Noble's evolution from an outbound market leader to a top inbound and cloud services provider.  Here is the first part of their conversation.

NANCY:  You cut your teeth on outbound, but in recent years, you have done amazing things with inbound.  I would also include adding the cloud on a single code base, so that you can go back and forth. Your customers can mix and match and that I think is definitely what the industry needs.  Tell me more about all of the things you’ve done with inbound. 

JIM:  It’s really quite interesting. You know, we've had inbound capability in our products since 1994.  It’s that long ago, but we never really believed we had a credible inbound solution until we were able to get away from the proprietary hardware. 

You know, for many years our technology was based on telephony cards that were put into a custom-built chassis.  You had single points of failure back then, which doesn't work well for inbound.  You had scalability issues on non-blocking matrixes, which also doesn't work well for inbound. 

Back then, large inbound contact centers were better off with traditional “Big Iron” systems – you know, ACD (Automatic Call Distributor) systems.  Once SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) came along and everything became software-based, that allowed you to build a completely non-blocking matrix as large as you would like and have reliability and redundancy.  It was as reliable and as redundant as the network you loaded the software on.

Once that came about, it was a completely level playing field between us on the inbound side of things and all the big hardware vendors.  That was a huge difference when it came down to it because feature functionality-wise, we've had the same features and skills base, routing and ACD cues and rollovers.  They have just about every feature you can imagine on inbound for a long, long time.  It was that switch to a software-based SIP architecture that really leveled the playing field. 

NANCY:  What I find interesting is that your customers have one of the lowest turnovers in the industry – your customers love you.  What I liked about the single code base is the fact that a lot of them are going to keep their dialer pieces because they love them.  So, now they can add all of the other features and solutions you have. 

JIM:  Yeah, it was just kind of crazy back then.  We went back and forth with this for a year or two back when we saw cloud coming.  However, it wasn't called cloud back then; it was called hosted contact center.  We said the only people that were buying it back then were people that couldn’t afford to buy an on-premises solution under any circumstances.  So, they put the first month of their hosted solution on their credit cards and hoped they could make enough money to pay the second month.  That were not really the type of customer we were looking for, but we knew one day we would grow up. 

Over the time we’ve had to prepare.  We decided that the very best thing we could do was not to create some brand new cloud solution from scratch that started off with the first ten features.  We knew we didn’t have to spend 20 years making something full and robust.  We spent two years taking our existing, excellent 20-something-year-old development technology and we created one code base that was extremely cloud-friendly and agnostic to whether it was deployed on-premises or in the cloud. 

So, what that meant is that customers could deploy it on their premises and then switch to the cloud later.  And, if they decided they wanted on-premises, it was one code base, one product to demo. 

You know, we could spend an entire day or two days demoing every feature functionality of our product.  At the end, a customer could say, “Okay, show me the cloud version now” and we could say, “You just saw the cloud version.”

That's a very powerful thing.  We don’t think any other vendor on the planet has that today.  Many competitors have cloud versions and on-premises versions.  We haven’t seen the ability to move back and forth.

So, to your point of customers being able to stay with us, we have customers that have been through two versions, two generations of billable systems technology on-premises, and now they want to move to the cloud.

The beauty is, as long as their software upgrades are up to date, they can move to the cloud and there’s no retraining of their agents, there’s no retraining of their supervisors, and there’s no reconfiguration of their campaigns or their screens or IVRs (Interactive Voice Response).  If it was done right, it could be done over a weekend.  Agents can go home on Friday from their premises-based solution and would come in Monday and not even know or realize it is all now running in Noble’s cloud. 

NANCY:  That's great. 

JIM:  We’ve had some customers do that.  One of the other things that’s important about it is that customers don’t always know what they want.  Prospects don’t always know what they want. 

We have prospects come into our sales funnel.  Every single quarter they come in as a cloud prospect or come in as an on-premises prospect and, during the months-long or sometimes year-long or even longer sales cycle, they’ll bounce back and forth between cloud or on-premises and decide differently.  Many times, different factions, different users within the business have different desires. 

Maybe IT doesn't want to move things to the cloud, maybe operations does.  Maybe finance doesn't care – they want to do what's best for the business. 

The beautiful thing is we’re agnostic.  We don't care.  We want you to do what’s best for your business.  If it’s better for your business to pay for it with an OPEX model and put it in our cloud, please do that.  If it’s better for you to buy it and just pay us to install and maintain it, please do that.  We don’t care.

NANCY: Thanks Jim, we’re out of time now, but it was great talking to you and finding out what Noble’s doing now and what you’re going to be doing in the future.  I look forward to talking to you about it again. 

JIM: It's been great talking to you. Thanks!

With Noble Systems, you can easily switch between on-premises and cloud to meet your needs.  It’s customers love the flexibility, and you will too!  In part two of this series, we will discuss WEM & Gamification.  

Nancy Jamison is a Principal Analyst at Frost & Sullivan with more than 30 years of experience, spanning product marketing and management, market analysis and strategic consulting, with a focus on Contact Center and Speech Technologies.  In addition, she has 13 years of experience in a major contact center vendor’s product management and marketing department, contact routing infrastructure and applications, IVR/Speech self-service, Speech Technologies, social customer care, and multi-channel and proactive customer care.

Edited by Erik Linask
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