The pandemic flipped nearly every business on its side (and some upside down), causing leaders across all industries and sectors to reexamine how their organizations were operating. What do we need to do more of, and what can we do less of? What processes need improving, and which workflows are no longer working? While every company has its own unique set of challenges to solve—with many still navigating these challenges today—the one factor that united nearly everyone is the need to expedite their digital endeavors. For many, that meant journeying to the cloud—a delivery model that promises greater accessibility, scalability, and flexibility. The scramble to shift to the cloud, however, left some organizations with a cloud vendor that promised more than it could deliver.
Why journey to the cloud?
With all the other modern technologies that emerged in recent years, why has the cloud reigned supreme? It both accelerates digital transformation efforts and provides the ability to ‘increase development speed and provide near-limitless scale,’ according to McKinsey, whose research indicates the estimated business value of cloud adoption is $1 trillion.
Contact centers, which gained more attention in recent years as many companies heavily relied on positive customer interactions to stay afloat, can especially benefit from the cloud. Until recently, companies typically would purchase on-premise solutions that, by the time they were implemented, had a new version available with better features and capabilities; or worse, the solution’s servers would no longer be supported after implementation and would require the company to buy new servers. Unfortunately, this scenario was commonplace for far too long, but with the rise of the cloud, these pain points are eliminated. Now, centers can (and should) leverage cloud-based workforce optimization (WFO) solutions that support call recording, quality assurance, workforce management, speech analytics, and more, which are all essential components in optimizing and engaging both contact center agents and capturing valuable customer insights. For those just beginning their journey, a cloud-based WFO solution also allows centers to continue operating their on-prem automatic call distribution (ACD) systems while modernizing their operations with the latest cloud-based technology.
The cloud is the future, and its functionality and scalability allow for quick deployment that is also easy to maintain. For those looking to shift their contact center to the cloud—or those who already have but found themselves underwhelmed by their chosen vendor—it’s key to remember not all cloud solutions are built the same.
The business and workforce benefits of cloud
Journeying to the cloud comes with its fair share of benefits for the business, from eliminating large up-front capital investments associated with disparate, maintenance-heavy systems and reducing dependence on the internal IT department, to enabling ongoing application upgrades and providing the ease of scaling up and down.
Even more important, cloud enables a new level of innovation and pace that’s impossible with on-prem solutions, and provides a constant flow of new, relevant functionality that’s critical to addressing the needs of modern contact centers. It’s not just about cost optimization or flexibility (though those are key benefits); it’s about smarter, faster, and more strategic business decisions.
For example, organizations can easily implement customer experience enhancements into their systems and share voice-of-the-customer analytics across functions beyond the contact center. Business leaders are taking notice of these benefits, as research from Calabrio found one-in-four contact centers were fully cloud-based as of last year, a significant jump from 1 in 10 the year prior.
There are direct benefits for the workforce as well. Cloud-based WFO solutions, for example, provide contact center managers with greater server capacity that can handle planned and unplanned volumes within the call center, allowing managers to stay focused on successful agent-customer interactions versus technical capacity. They also help to improve agent engagement with greater flexibility capabilities that provide more control over their schedules, offer real-time performance feedback, and provide training and information needed to be more successful in their roles.
How to ensure you have a true-cloud solution
The benefits of the cloud are apparent. The journey itself can come with challenges. Research from Foundry found 96% of IT decision-makers have experienced significant challenges in implementing their cloud strategy. Therefore, it’s incredibly important not to rush the vetting process and ask all potential cloud vendors key questions that will help ensure the cloud solution selected will deliver on its promises.
Here are eight key questions all cloud vendors should provide a resounding ‘yes’ to:
- Does your cloud platform have planned advancements that enable growth and acceleration for my company? The first question should always be focused on continued innovation—an absolute necessity from any cloud vendor. They should inform you of any recent and/or planned functionalities within the platform so you understand how their technology will help you and your teams evolve—that it cannot only support you today but can guide you into the future as well.
- Does your cloud platform have one instance that serves all customers simultaneously across a shared infrastructure? Beware of “fake” cloud solutions built on a multi-instance platform; with this approach, customers receive their own server, and in order to scale up, new servers must be switched on manually, which can be costly, time-consuming, and difficult to maintain—the opposite of what true cloud offers.
- Does your cloud platform allow for no downtime during continuous updates as new functionality becomes available? Be sure to avoid a platform that disrupts your operations when big updates are required or bugs and issues need to be addressed. Your platform shouldn’t require downtime during these instances.
- Does your cloud platform have the latest security tools, updates, and patches available in real-time and without added cost or downtime? Cloud platforms hosted on leading global cloud service providers such as AWS and Azure will place security as their highest priority; other platforms, especially those with multiple instances, require providers to defend against hundreds of potential attacks for multiple platforms rather than just one.
- Does your cloud platform allow me to easily scale up and down based on what my system needs are at the time? Some vendors need specific technical staff as well as hardware to manually increase capacity or deploy new capabilities, which can lead to downtime and delays.
- Does your cloud platform guarantee uptime and reliability, and am I financially compensated if service levels are not met? Availability can be limited with some vendors, especially when it’s outsourced to another vendor, which can be especially detrimental during times of crisis or disaster.
- Does your cloud platform provide the flexibility I need to meet my unique business needs and allow me to easily integrate with external systems? Cloud vendors that don’t offer easy integration and customization should be avoided, as unique requirements for the business quickly become expensive hassles. You shouldn’t work for your platform; your platform should work for you.
- Is your cloud platform designed with user experience in mind? Cloud platforms should offer centralized management and administration so that adding new users is seamless and straightforward; some solutions, however, put extra work and pressure on administrations to set up new users and learn multiple interfaces.
Any potential hesitations about the cloud should be removed when you find a reliable partner that provides a true-cloud platform. Accelerating your digital transformation journey is the right move—just make sure you don’t skip important steps along the way. The business value itself will then be worth the journey, but the operational value the workforce will also experience in terms of how they navigate their days further cements true cloud as the best path forward.