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Building long-term cloud cover

February 8, 2013 • Opinion

For a number of years now, the cloud has been the buzzword in the contact centre industry. Research suggests that a large number of local companies are starting to shift their operations into this virtual environment, citing cost saving and increased operational efficiency as primary drivers.

Deon Scheepers, Regional Business Development Manager, Interactive Intelligence Africa. (Image: Interactive Intelligence Africa)

With legacy systems beginning to age, and companies being faced with complex and costly upgrade scenarios, the cloud represents a logical choice for those looking to stay relevant in a swiftly evolving technological landscape.

Yet with this rapid uptake of new technology, many companies have made the mistake of embarking on cloud-based upgrades without any sort of long-term vision, electing instead to embrace the latest trends without casting an eye to sustainability.

The problems companies experience when upgrading their contact centre technologies usually stem from poor on-going support and management, rather than issues arising during the initial installation process. While transferring from one system to another generally brings about a number of minor speed bumps, these are insignificant when compared to the problems that can arise when entering into an agreement with a cloud vendor unable to meet a contact centre’s specific long-term requirements.

As such, companies considering potential cloud suppliers would be well advised to take into account a number of elements that might seem insignificant at the start, but could end up causing severe headaches further down the road.

Resiliency

With customer expectations escalating rapidly, contact centres can no longer afford to experience any significant downtime.  Maintaining system functionality irrespective of mitigating external factors is increasingly critical to a contact centre’s success. As a result, it’s important to partner with a supplier that offers built-in disaster recovery support, with multiple data centres ensuring fail-over capacity in the event of adverse weather or power outages.

In order to accurately assess a potential vendor’s ability to support business continuity, it’s vital that you establish a thorough understanding of their system’s architecture. Interrogate switchover times, gauge their proposed handling of planned outages for upgrades, and ascertain their ability to deal with emergency downtime. By ensuring that your vendor has the necessary resources to keep your system online and stable, you’ll be afforded increased peace of mind, and be better able to allocate resources to the day-to-day running of your contact centre.

System Ownership

A cloud-based system’s resiliency is also dependent on its capacity to be kept up to date with the latest versions and releases of software. Solutions developed and managed by vendors are likely to offer you a more seamless experience, given the fact that these suppliers have all their resources housed within a single company structure.

Whilst vendors offering third party products are certainly able to deliver high levels of service, their inability to access the teams responsible for a solution’s evolving development certainly impacts their capacity to offer the required levels of support.

Companies proffering their own bespoke solutions are likely to boast a more inherent understanding of your chosen system, enabling them to easily ensure that your software remains current, and to provide comprehensive trouble-shooting support.

On-going Support

While a vendor’s expert knowledge of your product is undeniably important, it is of very little consequence should you be unable to access appropriate and efficient support channels.

Before entering into a service agreement with a vendor, it’s important to make sure from the outset that proper systems and processes are implemented with respect to reporting and resolution, with sufficient resources dedicated to, and accountable for, results.

Rapid patching and issue resolution represent two of the most significant benefits of the cloud as opposed to premises-based solutions, so it’s important that you identify a supplier that is able to meet expectations in this regard.

Building a Stable Home in the Cloud

Moving your contact centre operation to the virtual environment certainly has the potential to boost overall efficiency, as well as your bottom line, but it is a journey that needs to be undertaken with a partner you can trust, and whose vision is appropriately aligned with your own.

Achieving success in the cloud is not simply about doing something fast, but about implementing solutions that are practical, reliable, stable, resilient and safe. By working with a trusted and reputable vendor, your odds of success are high, so make sure to perform due diligence before signing on the dotted line.

Deon Scheepers, Regional Business Development Manager, Interactive Intelligence Africa

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