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Taking Control


The Contact Center in the Cloud Offers Users More Control

Richard Snow
VP & Research Director Ventana Research

Jason Alley
Solutions Marketing Interactive Intelligence, Inc.

............................................ All rights reserved.......................................................... 06....... 11 Q: Any last comments? ................. 7601 Interactive Way Indianapolis..................872..................... Brand and product names referred to in this document are the trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies........................................................................................... 4 Q: How can customers protect the investment they have already made in onpremises systems? ............................. Indiana 46278 Telephone/Fax 317......................................................................... locations and possibly partners? ............................ 4 Q: Doesn’t relying on cloud-based systems mean that everyone has to use the same functionality?............................................................ Interactive Intelligence Group Inc........... version 1 © Interactive Intelligence Group Inc......Table of Contents Executive Summary....3000 www................... 7 Q: Can customers do a trial run of a contact center in the cloud before they roll it out to all users........................ 2 Taking Control: The Contact Center in the Cloud Offers Users More Control .......................................................... 9 Q: What happens if the system is unavailable for any reason............... 12 Copyright © 2011-2012 Interactive Intelligence Group Inc..... 8 Q: What level of technical resources and help will customers need from their IT department as they set up their contact center in the cloud and for ongoing operations? Rev.................................................................................................. 6 Q: How can customers be sure they are effectively managing their costs using systems in the cloud?.......................................10.......ININ.................................. 10 Q: How can customers be assured that other users won’t get access to their system and data? . 3 Q: What can customers expect a contact center in the cloud to include? ........................ such as if it crashes or during systems upgrades? .....

a member of the Solutions Marketing team at Interactive Intelligence. 3 Taking Control: The Contact Center in the Cloud Offers Users More Control . VP & Research Director at Ventana Research. Richard and Jason Alley. shares valuable insight into this issue and reveals how cloud-based contact centers can actually offer users an even greater level of control than they are accustomed to with premise solutions. engage in a helpful dialogue around questions many have in this regard. financials. availability. resources.Executive Summary The issue of control is an important one for those considering moving business communication applications to the cloud. Their insight provides a thoughtful analysis designed to be used by those evaluating whether or not to move their contact center to the cloud. © Interactive Intelligence Group Inc. deployment. and security. Richard Snow. including the level of control one can expect to have over things such as functionality. especially those as mission critical as the contact center.

Q: What can customers expect a contact center in the cloud to include? Snow: A contact center consists of many systems that can be categorized into two groups: systems that manage the customer communication channels (for example. Vendors that have moved their systems to the cloud typically have built-in features that allow for extensive configuration. However. while turning to others for CRM and knowledge management capabilities. They typically look to certain companies to deliver suite solutions for managing customer communications and agent performance. CRM. and business applications that manage agent performance (for example. web-based services) and route interactions to the right resource. They should also expect to see vendors or vendor partnerships that will integrate both types of systems to form a complete cloud-based contact center. Customers should certainly expect to find channel management and routing systems available in the cloud and over time they’ll also find other key applications – call recording. certain vendors are working closely with companies such as Salesforce and RightNow to deliver a deep level of integration and align resources to enable our collective customer base to innovate in new and exciting ways. Traditionally all these systems have been implemented on a company’s premise. CRM. chat. You make a great point though: Why stop there? The cloud offers a unique opportunity to blur the lines between customer communications. though. emails. Initially companies were looking to experiment with more specialized point solutions in the cloud. Q: Doesn’t relying on cloud-based systems mean that everyone has to use the same functionality? Snow: One of the perceived benefits of using in-house systems is that customers can configure them to their own requirements and if necessary. old-style on-premise applications weren’t designed to support extensive modifications and such an approach was inevitably expensive. knowledge management. quality monitoring. the process should be to identify your business requirements. In reality. agent performance and business applications. but increasingly they are available “in the cloud” – they run at a third-party site and are accessed over the Internet.). But as with any new system deployment. Richard. determine how much it would cost and what risks would be involved in having the solution customized to meet those requirements. © Interactive Intelligence Group Inc. Alley: This is consistent with what we’ve seen. flexibility and options such as spare data fields that allow users a degree of customer specific changes. risky and almost certain to push up maintenance and support fees. To this end. calls. 4 Taking Control: The Contact Center in the Cloud Offers Users More Control . etc. have the vendor or its partners develop customer specific add-ons. over the last few years we have seen a significant increase in the number of customers looking to move the entire contact center infrastructure to the cloud. workforce management and analytics – becoming available in the cloud. quality monitoring and workforce management) and support the resolution of customer interactions (for example.

while others support multiple instances for different customers or for the same customer. The following are two real-world examples of companies making such migrations: Cloud to Premise Example A healthcare benefit management company had a preference for the premise model. but saw the cloud as a way to quickly turn up a new contact center with 100 agents while setting the table for migrating other existing centers onto a new contact center platform. While many find tremendous value in this level of flexibility. they support. performance reliability. leveraging the premise deployment to support an additional 4-500 users. customization capabilities. normally at different data centers. or versions. the company turned up a second site. Shortly after. few vendors offer it today – at least in a realistic. Richard. The key for customers is to face up to the reality that “their” system is no longer housed on-premise and be sure to explore issues such as.Buried in this question is another issue and one that is based largely on emotion: an onpremise system is physically on-site and it is the company’s own instance to do with what it likes within the bounds of the license agreement. making it more secure against events such as natural disasters. scalability. but with some business users as well. a cloud-based supplier will have different instances of their system (if only for backup and recovery purposes). the last of which has profound implications. per their overall IT strategy. mostly contact center agents. After meeting the immediate need for the new contact center via the cloud. customers are free to invest in the deployment model of their choice – cloud or premise – without fear of making a wrong and irreversible decision. cost effective fashion. the company migrated the cloud-based system to their premise and began supporting it internally. security. However this choice comes with its own advantages. or premise to cloud. as business dictates. This is of course not true for cloud-based systems. Different vendors have different approaches to the number of instances. 5 Taking Control: The Contact Center in the Cloud Offers Users More Control . and how it can move to an alternative supplier or back to an on-premise system should that prove to be necessary. Who would want to be held hostage to the cloud if they didn’t have to? By lifting this limitation. Alley: You make some really interesting and important points. some argue that there should only be one and that all customers should use it. © Interactive Intelligence Group Inc. For example. how many versions the supplier supports for what purposes. integration with other systems. They can move their investment from cloud to premise.

6 Taking Control: The Contact Center in the Cloud Offers Users More Control . for the very reasons you state.) and have routing logic applied. if comprehensive functionality is built into the core product. user adoption. Thus. Vendors offering this level of flexibility deploy all-in-one solutions on a separate dedicated virtual machine for each customer. no MPLS connection is required.Premise to Cloud Example A long-time financial services customer had a need to downsize its operation and outsource what it could during difficult economic times. Because the voice path is handled over the PSTN network. With this model. but for a select number of users. but that their existing systems are keeping them from meeting today’s new and extremely demanding business requirements. and plans to retire current systems. place in queue. It also allows them to provide users a level of administrative control similar to that of the premise world without compromising other customer implementations. © Interactive Intelligence Group Inc. Alley: This is really important for many businesses. And. initially limit the functionality users can access as a supplement to existing functionality or it could run the initial implementation alongside an existing application. for example. Cloud-based systems are typically offered initially on a trial basis and then on a monthly service charge basis. etc. which means customers are not faced with large upfront costs. gain experience and then roll out on a wider basis before deciding what to do with its existing systems. the company moved its existing contact center platform to the cloud to have the vendor manage it for them. these types of deployments can happen very quickly while protecting existing PBX investments. Q: How can customers protect the investment they have already made in on-premise systems? Snow: This is a key question because our research shows that most contact center managers have very limited budgets to invest in new systems. once the proper agent is available. In these scenarios the reduced pressure on technical resources and capital spend means a company can introduce systems and functionality at a pace that matches business requirements. A second call leg is then established to the customer’s existing PBX via the PSTN network and. In fact. the call is delivered to the agent’s existing desk phone. callback requests. Accordingly. A company could. one of the most popular cloud deployment models involves leveraging existing PBX platforms for the voice path (see figure 1 below). making it a rather simple and economical proposition to support such migrations. IVR. They thus have the opportunity to start small. calls terminate in the cloud to receive call treatment (announcements. custom development is not necessary to configure systems to meet individual customer requirements.

most reputable vendors offer tools with which customers can monitor their usage and costs. Most cloud-based vendors therefore stress the quite obvious benefits of transitioning to their model – reduced (or no) upfront capital spend on software licenses and hardware. To support this. contact center executives and managers are and will most likely always be under severe financial pressures. volumes of transactions. no annual maintenance fees. it will be more of a partnership than traditional purchase transactions). and less need for dedicated technical implementation and operational resources. reduced need for dedicated office space. I tell them that acquiring cloud-based contact center functionality is not dissimilar from buying an on-premise solution: pick your provider carefully (after all. But the questions I get asked tell me companies are concerned that they are being held ransom by vendors and that they are able to see and monitor day-to-day costs as these are likely to vary by number of users. As to visibility. 7 Taking Control: The Contact Center in the Cloud Offers Users More Control .Figure 1 – Leveraging existing PBX investments for the voice path Q: How can customers be sure they are effectively managing their costs using systems in the cloud? Snow: As noted. or some combination of both. © Interactive Intelligence Group Inc. tie your contract down and monitor spend carefully. I find that most cloud-based vendors offer the opportunity for a trial run during which customers can monitor their usage and thus build a better financial model for their ongoing operations.

© Interactive Intelligence Group Inc. while still maintaining control over our contact center applications. Thatcher Young. Customers need to know they will be there for them and that the provider will work responsively and effectively with existing team members to ensure mission critical centers remain operational 24x7. locations and possibly partners? Snow: Yes. Given the flexibility described earlier. explains. so that. doing so is at the core of moving to a usage-based in-the-cloud model. Portland Rose Quarter. making the cultural fit an even more important factor. a ticketing and marketing company for public assembly facilities. “As a company that provides ticketing for sports and entertainment venues. Customers could for example start with one team in the contact center and then roll out to all others. In a recent case study. Customers pay based on usage. Richard. To your point. Aside from culture. a key requirement for many companies is the ability to easily scale up and down on demand to meet seasonal needs and peak interaction volumes in a “pay as you use” fashion – without losing control. Q: Can customers do a trial run of a contact center in the cloud before they roll it out to all users. Pocono Raceway. they can turn users on or off under their control and in line with their business plans. we experience frequent peaks and valleys in customer interaction volume. 8 Taking Control: The Contact Center in the Cloud Offers Users More Control . within limits. the financial history and health of a company and experience in a given vertical are other important factors to consider.Alley: : As to the topic of variability.…We gain the cost-savings and 24x7 support of a hosted solution. choosing the right partner is paramount when moving your contact center to the cloud. companies can use this information to determine the most cost effective way forward – extend the cloud service agreement or move the system powering it to their premise and manage it themselves. We were looking for a hosted contact center service that offered flexible pricing to correspond with these cycles. Your provider will effectively become an extension of the customer’s internal IT department. One great example of this is New Era Tickets.” Worth noting is that some companies prefer to sign one-year contracts with vendors initially to track spend throughout an entire year of seasonality (including peaks and valleys) and gain a more accurate understanding of what the ongoing cost model will look like in their environment. In fact. providing branded ticketing and contact center services for clients such as the Philadelphia 76ers. the director of call centers. they could start with one location and then roll out to others. and the Wachovia Complex. they could start with contact center staff and then include back-office or home-based staff or third-party partners – the possibilities are endless.

CTI. leaving users in control of their day-today usage. Q: What level of technical resources and help will customers need from their IT department as they set up their contact center in the cloud and for ongoing operations? Snow: As anyone who has implemented an on-premise contact center knows. the possibilities are endless. This leads to a high degree of user frustration. VP & Research Director. which I have quite often seen translate into users going off and “doing their own thing. After that. Outbound. QM and WFM) and then later roll out new channels – email.Alley: Trial and pilot programs are a great way to get your feet wet from both a functionality and process standpoint. Much can be learned and it’s also a great way to prove the cloud concept to management and dispel any doubt they may have in the model. user support. allow users to input parameters that drive specific functionality and be more easily customized to individual user requirements. IT will most likely help configure the system to initial user requirements and develop any interfaces to existing systems that are needed. a customer may decide to first replace existing systems contact center wide (such as ACD. social media – starting with a small group of users and expanding over time. Ventana Research © Interactive Intelligence Group Inc.” The cloud model removes most of these dependencies since there’s no hardware or applications to install and the supplier will take care of most of the rest. As you say. One other major benefit arises in part because of the cloud-based model and in part because of the newness of most cloud-based systems: They likely will support userdriven configuration. and as a consequence business users are heavily dependent on IT. display information that is important to the individual and generate reports and analysis which meets specific business needs – all under his or her control and not dependent on IT. chat. With the right service provider architecture in place. Richard Snow. and backup and recovery processes. it is not untypical in new cloud-based systems that each user can configure his or her own user interface. system upgrades. For example. it’s merely a licensing exercise to turn new functionality on. For example. doing so requires a lot of dedicated IT and network specialist resources. 9 Taking Control: The Contact Center in the Cloud Offers Users More Control . IVR. the supplier will take care of the ongoing operational requirements such as system operation.

innovating in the areas of unified communications and collaboration. Specifically related to failure. the mission-critical. In response to varying customer needs and preferences. Alley: It’s important to work through failover and disaster recovery scenarios when designing any solution. IT managers are discovering it’s an effective way to offload work and ensure projects they do focus on are resourced more appropriately. in-house systems crash as well and companies that are un-prepared have suffered serious consequences. flexible hosted deployment models have emerged. If the MPLS link goes down or the data center goes offline. for example. Companies evaluating cloud solutions should first speak with reference customers about their experiences with the vendor and see the user interfaces they will be working with firsthand. comprehensive administrative and configuration change scenarios and ask each vendor to demonstrate how easy it is to make those changes on its platform. which is connected via MPLS to a hardened data center. a very popular local control model (see figure 2 below) has emerged which enables carrier circuits to terminate at the customer site. This is especially true when multiple channels and agent performance applications are added to the mix. IT is frustrated too – they have many projects on their plate and not nearly enough resources. While many resisted the cloud initially. the local site can still take and route calls in a survivability mode with the local VoIP gateway and a media server/SIP proxy. And remember.Alley: Let’s face it. It’s also not a bad idea to identify a few common. the level of maturity and usability of the offerings becomes pretty apparent. the point you make about the business being able to configure and report on contact center operations without relying on IT is an important one. such as if it crashes or during systems upgrades? Snow: Different vendors have different approaches to backup and recovery but because they are supporting multiple clients it is an issue they have paid special attention to. how the supplier schedules down-time. While not eradicating all issues. It’s a fundamental requirement for the cloud model to work effectively and not all vendors do a great job at it. Q: What happens if the system is unavailable for any reason. dynamic nature of the contact center places unique pressures on IT as compared with other applications they’re used to supporting. Once beyond the surface. As well. 10 Taking Control: The Contact Center in the Cloud Offers Users More Control . A great example of this is a regional US bank that chose to move its contact center infrastructure to the cloud to offload 30 percent of its support calls and free-up resources to 1) focus on migrating disparate enterprise telephony systems (accumulated through acquisition) to the corporate standard for IP communications and 2) make better use of existing platforms. The bottom line is that these aren’t simple matters and they all depend in part on unique customer needs. and what service level the supplier has achieved and is able to demonstrate and therefore commit to. © Interactive Intelligence Group Inc. what the process is should the system crash. It’s important to spend a lot of time up-front to better understand and document various service level requirements. Richard. The important thing is that each customer understands the model its chosen vendor supports. they do address many by giving customers more architectural options in order to better align with their unique needs.

” Richard Snow. systems access is protected with several hierarchies of user passwords. and others. and processor and memory resources are dedicated.Figure 2 – Local control model In this model. customers have their own instance running on a dedicated virtual machine (VM) to among other things help minimize the chance of one company being able to impact another. switchover pairs are consciously split to run on different hosts. While it is unlikely one virtual machine can affect the entire host. VP & Research Director. Ventana Research Physical site security is often more rigorous. often with processes and systems that far exceed what companies have applied to their on-premise systems. and data security is likewise protected. © Interactive Intelligence Group Inc. recruitment and vetting policies for employees are kept to an extremely high level. based on what I’ve seen. Each VM runs as a separate process on the host. Q: How can customers be assured that other users won’t get access to their system and data? Snow: Security is often cited as a major concern when moving to any model where the system is housed on a third-party’s premise. “The good news is that cloud-based vendors recognize this and have addressed the issue. As Richard says. understand what you’re signing up for and be prepared. I think you will be pleasantly surprised when you compare it to your own processes. 11 Taking Control: The Contact Center in the Cloud Offers Users More Control . The key is to understand what your chosen supplier has in place.

© Interactive Intelligence Group Inc. and Proper handling of sensitive data • • • • • • • • • …the security team tends to walk away more than satisfied. Either way. 12 Taking Control: The Contact Center in the Cloud Offers Users More Control .Alley: The topic of security is always an important one. understandably. After reviewing topics such as… • Keeping calls. We find a mix of prospects that have already worked through many of the questions with other cloud deployments and those yet to dive in who bring a long list of questions and a hint of skepticism to the discussion. especially those in highly regulated environments) Dedicated virtual machines Unique database instances Encryption Certificate-based authentication Password policies Role-based access Private MPLS connections Segregated networks. recordings and sensitive customer information local and inside company firewalls (an important requirement for many. when moving infrastructure to the cloud. want to take the time to understand how it all works and how things stack up to their specific requirements. companies cannot afford to have sensitive information compromised and.

many systems and applications have been in the cloud for a long time. That might sound strange given the topic of this paper. corporate strategy. We are seeing this approach. then premise is the wise way forward. there are two very distinct camps of vendors often over-promoting the deployment model they offer (or prefer) with little regard to what’s ultimately in the best interest of the customer. basic telephony and Internet services are in the cloud. then cloud is obviously the best choice. means that companies can get smarter about who handles interactions without worrying where those resources are physically located. Therefore. Interactive Intelligence © Interactive Intelligence Group Inc. Solutions Marketing. 13 Taking Control: The Contact Center in the Cloud Offers Users More Control . which makes it easier for customers to support functionality such as interaction routing to more diverse locations. However. and other guidelines. Richard. coupled with users accessing more business applications in the cloud. what’s important is that the right call is made for the customer. For example. unlike many. In reality. “It’s important to know there are vendors that don’t have a loyalty or bias towards either model – cloud or premise –and.Q: Any last comments? Snow: Don’t be scared of the cloud. Ultimately. And both are passionate about their position. Perspectives can vary widely based on differing loyalties and biases. and it puts users more in control of the way they work. Jason Alley. the rule book and experience must be relied upon. a good strategy can be to bring in a neutral third-party to help review and update the rule book as well as interpret play between vendors. I’d also encourage customers not to be scared into the cloud. the rule book is filled with business and technical requirements. It’s kind of like a sporting match where the referee or umpire makes a close call and half the crowd cheers wildly knowing in their hearts the right call was made. offer customers the ability to migrate between them in a realistic and costeffective fashion. IT standards and governance. So my recommendation is that you embrace the contact center in the cloud as it is an opportunity for companies large and small to innovate interaction handling in ways that previously were not possible. enabling a unique level of innovation and peace of mind in the contact center. many vendors transitioned CRM to the cloud quite a while ago. and popular services such as Google and Facebook are of course in the cloud. market leading platform and financially stable public company. In this case. If experience and/or bandwidth are thin. coupled with a proven. This. If they offer premise. These latest developments are moving some of the more specialized services associated with business and contact center communications to the cloud. If they offer cloud. Alley: Great advice. while the other half of the crowd belts out “Boo!” convinced they just witnessed one of the worst calls ever made.

500 customers worldwide. hardware. consulting. information and technology across business and IT functions worldwide. The company has developed an all-in-one IP communications software suite that’s scalable and standards-based. Founded in 1994 and backed by more than 3. and business process automation.5 million business and IT professionals through our community of 85.000 professionals and network of media and association partners around the world benefit from Ventana Research’s insights.Ventana Research Ventana Research is the leading benchmark research and advisory services firm. education and implementation. Interactive Intelligence is an experienced leader delivering a comprehensive solution-set composed of premise-based and on-demand Communications as a Service (CaaS) offerings. cost and risk and still achieve optimal outcomes. Our unparalleled insights and best practices guidance are based on our rigorous research-based benchmarking of people. © Interactive Intelligence Group Inc. Ventana Research focuses on business and technology trends and best practices that maximize organizations’ potential to perform while reducing the time. enterprise IP telephony. The combination we offer of benchmark research. Ventana Research provides the most comprehensive analyst coverage in the industry. including software. Inc. 14 Taking Control: The Contact Center in the Cloud Offers Users More Control . Interactive Intelligence Inc. We provide expert guidance to help organizations manage and optimize performance – to become not only more efficient but more effective. processes. (Nasdaq: ININ) is a global provider of unified business communications solutions for contact center automation. rigorous market coverage and in-depth knowledge of hundreds of technology providers means we can deliver business and technology education and expertise to our clients where and when needed. Interactive Intelligence. more than 2. support. offering single-platform architecture with inherent multichannel processing to deliver comprehensive applications minus the cost and complexity introduced by multipoint products.

Jason now serves on the solutions marketing team at Interactive Intelligence. comprehensive perspective – something he strives to infuse in every project. As an industry veteran with more than 25 years experience. process. Jason Alley has both a broad and deep background in the area of customer interaction. In his work.snow@ventanaresesarch. Richard has specialized in delivering customer care and billing solutions for telecommunications operators. He conducts research exploring the people. including the contact center. His unique blend of end-user and supplier experience equips him with a fresh. 15 Taking Control: The Contact Center in the Cloud Offers Users More Control . contact center management. throughout their lifetime and across all touch points. He also works with senior business operations and IT managers to ensure that companies get the best performance from today’s highly complex application products. He served as a product manager and strategist for the first six years of his career with companies such as Nortel. he has been involved with all aspects of delivering highly complex IT solutions to a variety of clients in the telecommunications. information and technology issues behind customer operations management. © Interactive Intelligence Group Jason spent the next ten years of his career consulting with enterprise customers and suppliers for Vanguard Communications and a company he later founded. Richard has worked in management and consulting leadership positions in the technology industry including with Price Waterhouse. Jason holds a bachelor’s degree in business economics from UCLA. Sema Group and Valors. and several multi-channel contact centers for organizations in both the public and private sectors. which is dedicated to helping organizations improve the efficiency and effectiveness of managing their customers. SmartContact Consulting.The Authors Richard Snow leads Ventana Research’s Customer and Contact Center Management research practice. financial services and public sectors. Aspect and Hipbone (a web collaboration company acquired by Kana). Richard can be found on Twitter at @rjsnowvr and on LinkedIn and reached via email at richard. and customer experience management.