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Is the Cloud Your Answer?

Many questions need to be asked to reach the right conclusion.
By Mike Figgins - Posted Jan 5, 2011
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Lately, many business leaders are talking less about technology in and of itself and more about what it can do. Rather than thinking about IT in terms of new versus old—is it faster or more efficient and does it have more features?—the worth of IT is being measured against what it solves. For example, how can it help you adapt to changing business environments, add efficiency to your contact center operations, enable new customer channels, or communicate more closely and efficiently with customers?

Many companies are considering taking their contact center applications and/or infrastructures to the cloud. They want to enhance their customer experiences while balancing the internal objectives of cost management and optimization of resources. When considering a cloud service, however, you must seek a vendor with deep expertise in delivering these business-critical systems and services—one that knows the right questions to ask you and your partners to ensure you have the right strategy to support the cloud.

When Is the Cloud the Right Answer?

A company was looking for the most efficient and effective way to support spikes in its contact volume as it aggressively drives sales through its marketing campaigns. Its outsourcing partner helped answer questions regarding its current delivery model and alternative models, the costs to pursue the delivery models, and the implementation resources and time requirements. The answers—along with the overall benefits of a cloud service—indicated that using a cloud service made good sense.
The overall benefits of a cloud service include:
• Leveraged infrastructure drives lower capital dollars through virtualization of hardware. These virtualized environments provide benefits of scale and reduce carrier costs.
• Leveraged labor takes repeatable tasks, automates them, and standardizes the workloads.
• There are no capital expenses.
• Management of budget comes with ease in planning and no need to budget licensing costs, upgrades, or replacements.
• It’s easier to provision dispersed agents.
• Standardized applications across an enterprise create one training package for all agents and the same experience for customers.
• Flexible scalability is ensured.
• Time to deployment and benefit is rapid.
• Extended features/functions can be added to your solution/infrastructure, the costs for which might have prevented you from going that route in the past.
• A cloud services provider will have deep experience working with the solutions provided, which mitigates your costs and risk.

When Is the Cloud the Wrong Answer?

Yet the cloud is not always right for every business. A company thought the cloud was its answer for delivery of its new voice portal. However, when speaking with its outsourcing partner, the partner asked if it required an environment not shared with anyone else. The company did. Since the cloud could not provide a dedicated environment, it was not the right answer. Instead, the answer was a dedicated hosted environment.
Here are other questions to consider:
• Have you made significant investments in your current on-premises solutions? If so, the timing might not be right now for a cloud implementation.
• Are you comfortable with the multitenant solutions provided with the cloud? If not, you should consider dedicated hosting.
• Can you get your team past a perceived loss of control? If not, you might need to work within your culture to enable the team to accept that perceived loss of control so you can move to the cloud, or  it might be better for you to work within your culture, versus against it, so you can achieve your results successfully.
• Would you like to add a new application and try before you buy? If so, a cloud service could be right for you.
• What are you data security needs?
• What type of service-level agreement will you need?
• What is the future and how can you best handle change?
A cloud service could be the way to keep up with changing customer demands while affordably leveraging research around customer experience and what customers expect.
A popular refrain ringing through the halls of businesses in the next few years might well be, “To the cloud. To the cloud.” But before signing up to take a trip into the cloud, be sure to examine your situation closely.?


Mike Figgins is a senior director at Convergys, where he is responsible for product management and delivery of cloud-based call center solutions. He can be reached mike.figgins@convergys.com.

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