Cloud computing and hosted services are currently taking up a lot of "airtime", as more and less costly bandwidth becomes accessible and companies begin to recognise the benefits of this mode.
Conventional wisdom is to first migrate those services that are not business critical into the cloud, ensuring cost and risk ratios are palatable. For contact centres, accessing quality applications, like workforce management, from the cloud has major benefit, but does voice recording fall into this category yet? Jasco DataVoice offers some insight.
"Taking voice recording into the cloud can benefit organisations, especially contact centres. And smaller enterprises that previously have not had the budget to invest in on-site recording equipment – such as doctors, lawyers, building contractors, financial consultants, estate agents, newspapers and hotels – would also be able to access this functionality for the first time.
"It's useful to examine the advantages, but also to look at the considerations prior to embarking on such a transition," says Kgabo Badimo, MD of Jasco DataVoice, a Jasco Group company.
When it comes to specialised applications, like Jasco's Qnique workforce optimisation suite for contact centre agents, the advantage of accessing the application via the cloud is the pricing model – rather than buy the application, configure, integrate, manage and update it, users simply rent it from a cloud-based service provider who can offer economies of scale. This can be applied to voice recording too.
Jasco DataVoice's Libra recording suite has numerous clients in key verticals, including financial services, emergency services, the public sector organisations and corporates. Jasco did a study of the demands of a contact centres for voice recording, especially deployed in an IP Telephony environment, and came up with a number of considerations.
Contact centre functionality in the cloud is nothing new, Badimo says.
"Numerous vendors offer instant-on contact centre capability to a user whose agents only need to have a broadband connection, Web browser and IP phone. The client rents the service on a per-agent-per-month basis, and can extend his existing services at the drop of a hat. Add voice recording and the offering becomes more attractive," he suggests.
"However, a key requirement in a multi-tenant environment (a defining characteristic of cloud computing models), where numerous organisations have a telephony and recording system assigned to them, is to ensure there is sufficient security and that end clients are suitably isolated from one another."
A multi-tenant system places the strongest demands on the design of a recording system for a contact centre.
Says Badimo: "The tenant owns the recorded data generated and employs the users of the telephony and recording systems. He is entitled to statistics on usage and should be able to manage and evaluate his own users. Designing a system with these features has commercial advantages to both the host and tenant or end-user."
Features that users should ensure will be included by the service provider in a cloud based telephony and voice recording offering include:
* A significant reduction of cost – due to the elimination of infrastructure outlay, and reduced support and maintenance.
* Security and isolation – advanced security modelling and system partitioning features will assure tenants that their operations will be secure and isolated from other system tenants or groups.
* Scalability – the system needs to be able to seamlessly scale to many agents to cater for possible future expansion.
* System-wide administration – the service provider must be able to manage the system and all tenants or groups from easy-to-use remote interfaces.
* Tenant self-administration – will enable the tenant organisation to manage and administrate its own users on the system.
* Direct access to own recorded data – secure and simple access by tenants to recordings for retrieval and playback. The system may be able to store recorded data directly to the tenant premises for own management and peace-of-mind.
* High availability recording with redundant systems and disaster recovery.
* Optional workforce optimisation services – these services become a possibility even for small organisations due to cost-effectiveness of sharing of infrastructure and resources.
"In essence, in a multi-tenant environment, recording functionality can be offered to many users who would previously not have been exposed to this technology. Contact centres too will be able to cut costs by making use of hosted cloud-based voice recording services, relying on the 'muscle' of a large service provider to ensure safe storage and tight security," says Badimo. "It certainly is worth exploring."