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Is It Time to Move Your Contact Center to the Cloud?
Make sure you understand the myths and realities.
For the rest of the November 2014 issue of CRM magazine please click here

Should the cloud be your strategic direction for technology and systems? Companies of all sizes are asking this question. There are many compelling reasons to move contact center systems and applications to the cloud, but the following five are especially significant; it does not tie up capital investment dollars; it offers scalability and flexibility in doing business; it makes it easier to acquire and implement technology; vendors are highly responsive (and likely more responsive than many internal IT groups); and it provides ongoing technology updates without disruption.

Cloud-based systems and applications are good and getting better. In the past, companies had to compromise on functionality when adopting cloud-based contact center solutions, such as automatic call distributors (ACDs) and dialers. But this is no longer the case.

Tackling the Myths

Some myths and misunderstandings remain about cloud-based contact center solutions. The biggest misconception is that they will save companies money. There are likely situations where this will be the case, thanks to cost savings that comes from reducing the number of resources dedicated to managing an on-premises solution and lowering other expenses, such as real estate, electricity, etc. However, in most cases, if a company is going to keep a cloud-based solution more than three to four years, its cost, as compared to an on-premises application, will be similar, or it will be more expensive to be in the cloud.

A second misunderstanding is that cloud-based solutions do not have to be managed. The truth is that end users should not be involved in handling the hardware and software, but someone must take care of day-to-day system administration and vendor management. Unless a company purchases a managed service where the vendor is responsible for ongoing management of the entire environment, the end user will need to handle this responsibility.

A third misconception is that cloud-based solutions are not secure or are less secure than on-premises applications. Cloud-based contact center solutions are being used by government agencies and are in operation at some of the largest, most security-conscious companies. The cloud-based vendors have worked closely with these organizations to build highly secure solutions and platforms. While there is always room for improvement, solutions from the more security-oriented cloud vendors are at least as protected as many on-premises applications.

Market Challenges

While cloud-based contact center vendors have made significant progress, there is still work to be done. The top challenge is integration. Contact centers can use as many as 45 different applications to optimize their performance, and it is unlikely that any single vendor is going to offer all of them. Therefore, it is important for all contact center vendors to prioritize ease of integration. Early on, the cloud-based contact center vendors were not open to integrating with third-party applications—in the cloud or on-premises—but this has started to change. Forward-thinking solution providers understand that they need to deliver solutions that can integrate with other applications, and are making the necessary investments. DMG believes that this will be an important area of differentiation, and that such vendors will enhance their offerings to improve ease of integration and build a strategic ecosystem of partnerships.

The Bottom Line

Cloud-based systems and applications free companies from managing hardware and software and allow them to concentrate on using the technology to conduct business. As long as the solutions are secure, stable, able to deliver uninterrupted service, and allow for integration with third-party cloud-based and on-premises applications, the cloud should be in your future. This delivery vehicle is far from perfect, but it's getting better all the time. When selecting technology, pick the product and then determine the right implementation model. The cloud should be an enabler for your company. If it doesn't meet your business needs today, it will likely become a good alternative in the future.


Donna Fluss is founder and president of DMG Consulting, a provider of contact center and analytics research, marketing analysis, and consulting.


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Every month, CRM magazine covers the customer relationship management industry and beyond. To subscribe, please visit http://www.destinationCRM.com/subscribe/.
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