We’re all familiar with cloud computing. We store our documents, our files in cloud storage, we access subscription based music services that exist in the cloud, we can access these files anywhere, anytime, across multiple devices. It’s super convenient, reliable and inexpensive.
And we’re wondering how we ever got by without it.
Business operations too are making the move into the cloud; something that’s very much true of the contact centre.
Once, the only way to run a contact centre was to have physical infrastructure in your building usually cumbersome, always expensive. It would do most, but probably not all the things you needed to do. So to fill the gaps, other applications would be plugged in. An application for reporting, one for your IVR, each with their own vendor, each requiring IT resources to implement and manage.
Many centres still operate this way, but cloud computing is changing all this.
I’m speaking with Justin Aldrich from Unity4 about the move into the cloud based contact centre and we’re going to look at the main reasons companies are making the change.
Justin, Although its not the only reason for the change, the cost savings of moving into the cloud are considerable aren’t they? Could you tell us some of the areas where organizations are saving money.
Financial considerations of the move to the cloud
Justin: Sure, and money is a major driver, one of the major drivers in the move to cloud based contact centres. You mentioned earlier the cumbersome existing systems within organizations, IT infrastructure and so there is a huge capital investment saving straight away in looking at a cloud based solution as an alternative. Those system have cost organizations many millions of dollars and the ongoing cost in terms of maintenance and IT support for those also cost many millions of dollars. Cloud computing and solutions tend to be charged on a per user per month model, so you effectively pay for what you use rather than spending a huge amount and using some of that capability or some of that functionality. So what you do almost immediately is you remove hardware costs, maintenance costs, IT support and service costs and also the hidden costs or the costs the business doesn’t necessary think about, around annual fees, the ability to pay for software releases, annual maintenance and so on.
Simon: Ok, so with all those cost savings, there is clearly a good business case for the change. How about from level of functionality? A modern cloud contact centre platform will have all of the functionality and probably more than systems that once would have cost hundreds of thousands even millions of dollars.
The flexibility of cloud based solutions
Justin: Correct, and I think the reliance on those systems for a lot of organizations to maintain business as usual has been a major issue. The business case to change comes around the ability as you mentioned to have end to end functionality delivered in one solution supported by one provider, instead of having one particular solution to look after your voice recordings, one particular solution to manage your IVR messaging. The capability is there now for one solution that manages everything with the contact centre agents before, they have to say “Hello” and during the conversation and after having said “Hello” and actually dealt with the client issue.
What happens before and after the call.
Simon: You mentioned there what happens before and after the call, and I want to touch on that, because although the call centre used to be just the place that took the calls its now the destination, and the hub, for so much more isn’t it? Through chat and through email, social media. And to get that level of functionality plugged-in to some of this legacy systems must almost be impossible.
Justin: Well you’re absolutely right, it was becoming more and more impossible with the customer or the client thats looking to contact your organization now having a huge amount of freedom of choice in terms of what channel they want to use and when they want to use it.
So typically that would mean for an organization they need to go out and buy a bunch of servers and some technology to manage either social media as a channel, web connect or web chat as a channel, they would have to set up a separate team that would sit outside of the contact centre to look after the email communication. And so the ability is they are now for a solution to be able to encompass to all of that so its relevant how your customer chooses to connect or how your customer chooses to interact with you or when they choose to interact with you.
The contact centre agent with multi channel communication
A contact centre agent can now be taking an inbound phone call the next thing they might be doing is involving themselves in a web chat, asking for example around some technical support on a particular product; they may be responding to emails; they may also be responding on that organization’s social media feeds. The key here is not only the different systems, legacy systems that organizations were forced to use, but also making sure that all of the client contact, all that client interaction is captured in one place so that you can actually report on everything that contact centre agent did but everything also that the customer did in interacting with your organization.
Savings in IT resources
Simon: Not needing to spend time getting all these separate systems talking to one another must free up a huge amount of IT resources.
Justin: You’re absolutely right, Certainly in larger organizations, IT infrastructure and IT support has been a massively growing element in terms of resources where as we know and we read all the time resources are being shed from other areas of organizations to cut costs and increase efficiency.
The IT resources are always stretched and when you’re looking at multiple different legacy systems and pulling reports, pulling information from those, that is what taking up a huge amount on of time in terms of resource.
So the ability to have again that one solution that provides an end to end on view of every customer interaction tends to be a huge amount less reliant on IT resources which is great for the organization, then being able to look at how can they deploy those individuals to drive efficiency or into new projects within the organization.
The cloud brings more flexibility.
Simon: So the modern cloud contact centre platform having this breadth of functionality out of the box and this ability to scale up quickly makes a huge difference in the flexibility of the organization and their ability to move rapidly doesn’t it.
Justin: Well they do and and its becoming increasingly important for organizations to maintain the competitive edge in some way. Whatever that business is they typically have competitors, they typically clients they need to respond to rapidly and the ability to scale up and scale down rapidly used to be a problem and also the flexibility that those legacy systems provided used to be a major problem.
In my experience there are organizations out there that would like to have made a business changes, a strategic move but it has been held back by those systems having to putting in change requests and waiting for that organization to respond and build a new piece of functionality or to configure or change the existing piece of functionality. To allow that to happen and it takes a lot of time. And quite often those changes in the time to change removes your ability to have that competitive edge or be first to market or respond quickly or rapidly to your clients.
Rapid upscaling for organisations and government agencies.
In the cloud computing space in the contact centre world, typically you would find an organization has the ability to turn off and turn on functionality as they require. So from day one an organization may not use all of that end to end functionality because first of all they want to maintain business as usual but something may have happened to that organization, it could be something extraordinarily positive like launching a new product to market and needing to make a huge amount of calls to tell existing customers about that. It may be something a little more emergency based in terms of a government body needing to bring the agents on to the system rapidly so that they can either make outbound calls so they can make warning about bushfires or flood related incidents or indeed to be able to receive incoming calls and provide information to individuals. Whereas they may normally have a contact centre starts let say 20 or 30 to be rapidly ramping up to 100+ staff to be able to field those calls, not necessarily all in one office but in remote locations even working from home for example, allows them to be able to fill those calls and deliver those messages appropriately. Whereas before with legacy systems and the lack of flexibility, obviously those individuals had to be where the IT infrastructure was which isn’t necessary always possible in terms of travelling in most instance or even space and for organization to be able to house those individuals.
So it really allows people to look at their growth plans as well as on the flip side of that disaster recovery process, and their business continuity planning.
Is my data secure?
Simon: Ok so with any transition like this, business owners and stakeholders are naturally going to have concerns and I suppose one of the biggest concerns is around data security. Is my data going to be secure? Where is it housed? How does a company like Unity4, a company that provides cloud contact centre software to organizations and government, how does Unity4 address that?
Justin: Thats a very valid question. Its a question that businesses ask as well as a flag that IT resources wave very rapidly. It also becomes for a lot of organizations more of a legal discussion in terms of their ability to prove where their data is stored, where their client data is stored.
Unity4 has created and built this solution with that in mind over a period of time and we have implemented that into both the corporate world and the government world and there’s something behind that which allows us to do it.
All of that data and all of our operations for our Australian clients are based here in Australia so we have data centres in Melbourne and in Sydney.
Choosing between multi-tenancy or sole-tenancy
You will also find in the cloud based contact centre world a term called multi-tenancy or sole-tenancy. Multi-tenancy is where an organization or a set of organizations may share the ability to use a platform. N ow they don’t get to see anybody elses data, they only see their data based on their log-ins and so on. But everything is stored in a shared facility onshore and for a lot of organizations thats fine.
For some organizations whether you’re looking at the banking and finance world or whether you’re looking at certain government industries or agencies, they may need go down a sole-tenancy route which ensures that they are not sharing any of the infrastructure or any of the technology with any other tenant in that set up – so its a stand the line set up for them. Now some organizations have really focused on either one or the other, at Unity4 we have the ability to provide both and we find very often, different solutions will work for different organizations.
So we’ve passed and being put through security audits around our ability to collect and store credit card data, to collect or create interactions after speaking with individuals and maintaining that data, maintaining the voice recording for that call, and being able to host all of that and provide those answers back to those clients as when they need them for issues of compliance or legislation.
So it is a question we’re asked regularly and we have been through probably the toughest audits and security audits thats are available in this area and we are very proud of the way we have things set up and I think that shows with some clients that we have been working with.
Simon: If you’d like to dig a little deeper into some of the issues that have been raised here or have chat with Justin, head over to Unity4.com/contact. Unity4 provides a cloud based platform that’s been build from the ground up to meet the needs of the modern contact centre and it’s now got now more than 11,000 active users worldwide so Justin thanks so much of your time today.
Justin: Thank you