The Covid19 crisis brought into sharp focus the need for a move to the cloud, as most organisations moved to a homeworking model during periods of lockdown. This forced many immediate changes. Companies need networks to be private but working from home required a virtual model. Yet some home broadband providers didn’t support Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). Companies had to buy extra VPN licenses. Some on-premises telephony platforms could not route voice calls to home workers. By contrast, with cloud all users are effectively remote workers. They all log in to the system in the same way as they would into an on-line social media platform but with added security precautions.
While accelerated by the pandemic, this is in fact a fundamental change that had already begun. People had been resistant to moving to the cloud for a fear of loss of data, control and a fear of safety issues. Yet the Cloud has enterprise-level security technology, as these companies are now discovering. At Omningage, Chief Technology Officer Ahmad Nizami points to the high level of data security provided by cloud platforms like Amazon Web Services. What comes as standard on the Cloud, is actually “hard to achieve in traditional datacentres, without major investment in security infrastructure across the board.”
What are we moving?
In Forbes Magazine, Francis Dinha, the CEO and Co- Founder of Open VPN Inc, recently described the Cloud as “a powerful game-changer for companies of all sizes; it made growth and scaling far more accessible, not to mention remote access.” The changes forced by lockdown have shone the light on a long-term opportunity for organisations to improve their privacy and save money too, by moving from pricey on-site hardware to a flexible, safe, and hugely cost-saving future in the cloud. “Speed of migration, platform agility and no upfront costs are the key drivers for migration”, explains Nizami, “especially during the pandemic”.
85% of contact centre installations are still onpremises. So, people are now moving a great variety of data and communication channels, currently maintained using servers in offices or at a central location. These can be replaced by new hosted desktops — and servers and telephony, data centres or applications can be fully based in the cloud. At the entry level, we have Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). This is where many organisations first dip their toe in the water. The cloud provider is only responsible for the physical hardware, connecting you to the outside world, and the hypervisors that run the virtualmachines the systems run on. The user organisation is responsible for everything else, including user access, data, applications, operating system, and network traffic. Sometimes organisations have sunk capital budget into technology (perpetual license software models). They can be reluctant to write this off, so choose what seems the easier option, merely moving services that currently sit in on-premise data centres into cloud data centres.
Buying a service on the cloud is a revelation
The pandemic has led to an increase in business for BPOs, with companies rushing to move their business online. A trusted brand has helped overcome many doubts and tensions for those considering cloud solutions. At Amazon, when their own retail business needed a contact centre, they could not find one that met their needs, so they built their own. Amazon then made this available for all businesses, and since then thousands of companies ranging from 10 to tens of thousands of agents use Amazon Connect to serve millions of customers daily. For BPOs, the ability to scale and flex on the Cloud means they do not need to invest in hardware and perpetual licenses that stand idle and don’t generate revenue. “When we deploy Amazon Connect, clients are amazed at how seamless and agile the process is”, explains Debbie Bicker, Account Manager at SVL. “As well as providing an outstanding piece of software, Amazon Connect offers customers a fast and flexible implementation process”. Another sea-change is the provision of entire services available to us in the Cloud. For instance rolling out Contact Centres as a Service (CCaS) is like buying a commodity. The service is ready to use, purpose built and hosted by providers who maintain the hardware and code. The cloud provider takes responsibility for the physical servers, the infrastructure and hypervisors that support them, the network traffic, the applications themselves and the operating system they run on. The user organisation will only take responsibility for user access and the data itself. Customers access the software through the internet and either pay subscriptions or on a pay-as-you-go basis. It is excellent for SMEs, quick and easy to use but with limited customisation and integration.
This sets us free to focus on user experience
Another hurdle can be overcome by using Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS). This provides the real-time communication services that a company requires, while leaving them to pick and choose which API they will use and to build bespoke interfaces on top of them. A poorly designed interface can seriously affect agent motivation and performance. Never forget about the human element in the technology processes of the contact centre. Cloud means that we can focus our attention on user experience (UX) knowing that the core platform,services, and infrastructure are in safe hands.
Autonomy is a key element in modern motivational thinking. Agents work better when they are empowered to make decisions and take responsibility for their own work, because they feel they have more control over their own work and working lives. A well-designed interface will make it easier for agents to navigate around the application by prioritising important and frequently used features and processes. Designers avoid distracting the eye with too many colours and use high contrast elements to attract attention to the main elements of the application. Simply put, by moving to the cloud, you will be safer, more efficient, more flexible and save a lot of money. We work with companies every day to help them get over this hurdle and it is easier than you think.
The Forrester Report for Amazon Connect, on the economic impact of moving to the Cloud, estimates that you can expect to reduce IT budgets by more than 30%. There are also operational savings to be had, by making it easy for an agent to learn and use the contact centre platform. The report also identifies the potential to reduce contact handling times (AHT) by 15%. Even half this would mean that a typical 100 seat contact centre in the UK could realise monthly savings in excess of £15,000.
Author: Richard Abdy
Date Published: 27th April 2021
This article was first published in the 2021 Best Practice Guide - Unlocking Opportunities: You are the Key
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