Contact Centres and the Cloud – a match made in heaven
Contact Centres and the Cloud – a match made in heaven
The Cloud. Everyone is talking about the cloud. ‘Put it in the cloud’. ‘You should use the cloud’. Do you sometimes nod and smile when people talk about this cloud, like you know what they’re talking about, when really you have a general idea but don’t really get it? How do people put things in a white fluffy water-based thing? Wouldn’t it fall right out? Or at least get a bit wet?
I wouldn’t feel embarrassed about this, most people don’t get it. In fact, unless you’re a developer or heavily into the software space, I don’t think you really need to understand the technicalities of the cloud. It’s enough to have a general idea of how it works, however it’s important to know how it benefits you. As the the global cloud contact centre market is forecast to grow from US$4.68 billion in 2015 to US$14.71 billion by 2020, it pays to understand it, so you know if it’s right for your business. With growth like that, your competitors are probably using it, or soon will, so we’ll cover the basics so you can consider it as an option when the time is right.
What is it?
It’s probably best to start with what it’s not. It’s not a physical thing. It’s a network of servers, each performing a different function. Usually a server’s purpose is to run applications, deliver a service, or store data. Think about the photos you take on your smart phone- you wouldn’t be able to keep too many if you had to rely on your phone’s storage. The cloud gives you more than enough storage to house all of your selfies AND food pics (phew).
How big is it, exactly?
This is something no one knows for sure. Tis the mystery of the cloud. About 1 Exabyte according to some sources.
What on earth is an Exabyte?
One Exabyte of memory is about the equivalent of the memory of 4.2 million Macbook Pro hard drives. That’s a lot of memory.
That’s pretty much all you need to know about what the cloud is if you manage contact centres. It is more important to understand the benefits of the cloud to you, and how it will help your team be more productive and hit your targets, particularly financial. If you’re tasked with improving efficiency, and most managers are, then it pays to inform yourself on a platform that can have considerable impact (the good kind) on your bottom line and productivity.
It costs less money
Cost of hardware
The hardware (boxes and wires and stuff) to house your own servers can be expensive. As can hiring people to install it, maintain it, and fix it when something goes wrong. The cloud saves you money as it’s a pay-as-you-go model, which means you only ever pay for the applications and amount of storage you use.
Cost of use
As you share server infrastructure with other organisation’s computing needs, this means the cloud computing provider can maximise the usage of it’s hardware, without any extra cost to you. It’s like renting a room in a building rather than having to rent the entire floor, just in case you need it. With the cloud you can move in and out of extra rooms as your business demands it, without having to pay rent year round on the extra space that sits empty most of the time.
Cost of power
When you run your own in-house servers, you’re consuming a lot of power. The cloud consumes less power and is more efficient than having an in-house IT set up. Better hardware utilisation results in more efficient use of power, which looks pretty good on the old bottom line.
Cost of people
People are expensive. Especially really smart people, with very specialised IT skills. People are the largest expense in IT, according to Gartner, consuming 41% of the IT budget. The salaries, benefits, training, and other employment costs of a couple of IT heads are usually more than the cost of hardware and software. Add the cost of recruiting the right people to that mix and you see how expensive it is to have both humans and machines on premise. When you are in the cloud, you can take advantage of the expertise of a highly specialised staff- without having to find, recruit, hire, train and pay them.
It’s more flexible
Running cloud-based contact centres allows you to offer your agents something that is becoming essential to any productive work environment- flexibility. With the cloud, agents can log on from anywhere- home, satellite offices, offshore contact centres. All they need is an internet connection. This allows you to adopt more flexible contact centre models, such as home-based agents, which can both save you money and improve the quality of employees. Sometimes offering work conditions that can fit into your employee’s lives can untap a pool of highly qualified, highly motivated talent that simply are unable to travel to and sit in an office for 8 hours a day.
Speed and agility is pretty crucial to any business that wants to be competitive. You want software that’s as good as your competitor, and need the ability to roll this out quickly and easily. Deploying software, upgrading and increasing capacity will be much faster with the cloud. With traditional software, deployment is usually a lengthy process, involving IT experts, a full assessment of requirements, capability, and a lot of internal staff resources to get it up and running. The cloud doesn’t require either infrastructure or system software, so the deployment is easier, and the value of the solution is realised sooner.
Providers of cloud-based contact centre solutions can schedule updates to occur automatically, with little disturbance to the user. Your staff can always have the latest, least buggy software that’s available. No more barring staff from accessing the network for long periods of time while the upgrade takes place. Even if this happens on a weekend or overnight, it’s problematic in the contact centre world, where customer’s demand to speak to someone when they need it, whatever time that may be.
Have you resisted the cloud up to now? Maybe you’re a bit of a technophobe or dismissed it as a bit of faddy techno jargon that would soon be forgotten as we move onto the next thing? It’s probably time to re-think. With developments in how we use computers, the cloud now makes a lot of sense to most businesses as a more cost-effective, efficient way of doing business. If you manage a contact centre, it’s not only the cost benefits to get you excited, but the flexibility it provides your agents to log into a system (that is always the latest and greatest), can be a huge bonus in hiring highly motivated staff who can do their job from anywhere. All pretty exciting things, especially if you need to be more productive without any additional time and budget coming your way.