The rapid growth of data speeds and connectivity options in South Africa have enabled local businesses to take advantage of cloud solutions, and many companies are doing just that, writes Sadiq Munshi, product development manager at Jasco Enterprise.
Contact centres, in particular, can benefit from all or parts of the components hosted in the cloud, particularly when one considers the extensive investment in infrastructure that a contact centre requires. But not all businesses are ready, or able, to migrate their contact centres to the cloud entirely. With this in mind, it is best to adopt a ‘horses for courses’ approach and consider various options before deciding to replace existing infrastructure with a cloud solution.
Migrating your contact centre to the cloud offers a host of benefits, from reduced costs and minimal capital outlay, to enjoying the flexibility and agility that cloud solutions offer, but these benefits can be far less significant if you’ve already invested considerably in your own contact centre infrastructure. If you’re starting out, or are in a position to replace your out-dated or end-of-life infrastructure, then these benefits make cloud the perfect solution. Either way, one has to consider the implications of migrating to the cloud and how best to do so seamlessly, minimising the impact on operations and maximising the benefits of the migration. Often, using a phased approach or a hybrid solution can make more sense than a ‘rip and replace’ solution.
If you’ve invested in your own on-premise systems, a cloud contact centre may not make sense for your business. That said, there are options of migrating certain components of your contact centre to the cloud like a Workforce Optimisation (WFO) solution. It is important to be mindful of any system integration complexities that may exist. A company that has seasonal contact centre requirements, for example, may wish to leverage the flexibility and pay-as-you-use advantages of a cloud-based solution, as they will not need to invest in infrastructure which may only be used at certain times of the year or on demand as may be the case with a dialler, inbound call handing, call blending, social media add-on, e-mail add-on’s and other contact centre applications.
Large companies that wish to keep their contact centres on-premise can also elect to host certain components in the cloud where they can utilise the expertise of cloud contact centre providers without needing to invest in training and additional resources over and above the physical infrastructure. It is interesting proposition for System Integrators (SI) to offer a fully hosted contact centre solution that offers the skills and resources coupled with the technology. This provides benefit to customers that are looking for a seasonal need or peak demand to be met.
If you have decided to migrate your contact centre to the cloud, you now need to determine whether to migrate everything all at once, use a soft, piece-by-piece approach, or migrate only certain components. Going the ‘rip and replace’ route is ideal if your systems are out-dated and their return on investment cycle is complete. It is important, though, when replacing entire systems, that you select a service provider who not only offers all the components of a cloud contact centre that you need – without hooking you into unnecessary services that sound great, but end up being entirely useless – but that can also assist with integration, training and solid advice so that your migration can be seamless, effective and beneficial from the outset.
Where your business has certain components that need replacing, or requires new, add on components that you’ve not used before but find yourself needing now, such as the social media component for your contact centre. Once the strategic and operational readiness is determined and the appropriate actions are completed, the social media component is fairly easy to leverage. The same may be applicable for an Interactive Voice Recording (IVR) solution, going the phased route should work best for you. By migrating only a few components at a time, you can softly introduce cloud systems into your business. Whenever one of your current systems reaches the end of its lifespan, generally between 3 and 8 years of use, then it, too, can be migrated smoothly to the cloud. Cloud offers the perfect solution for any temporary or trial contact centre needs too. These include requirements such as contact centres that have specific campaign requirements or outreach programs that would use one or more contact centre applications like inbound call handling, outbound dialling, call blending and others, where investing in your own infrastructure becomes an expensive endeavour, that could outweigh the gains.
Often, either when phasing in a cloud solution or deciding to migrate only certain components of your contact centre, it makes the most sense to make use of a hybrid solution altogether. Doing so means that you can leverage the benefits of cloud wherever it makes the most sense while taking advantage of your own infrastructure and protecting your investment. By talking with your service provider and getting them to assess your needs, both current and future, you can ensure you are informed and in the best position to know where cloud based contact centres will work for you, and how best to go about implementing them.