I have written a couple of pieces this year about the exciting news that a few vendors are now able to provide companies with a call center they can access in the Internet cloud – Will Cloud Computing Finally Bring Innovation to the Contact Center? and Is a “Contact Center in the Cloud” a Reality? There is currently a lot of hype around any kind of cloud-based computing, and the same is true of the contact center. From my perspective, people should be clear about what this phrase really means. Anyone that has been involved in building an on-premises contact center knows it typically involves integrating complex call-management systems (such as PBX, ACD and IVR) and several computer systems including call routing, call recording, workforce management, CRM, agent quality monitoring and performance management, reporting and analytics. The idea is that calls or other types of interactions are delivered to the company’s call center location and then the combination of these technologies determines the best agent to handle the interaction and delivers it to that person. The contact center in the cloud shifts some or all of these systems to a third party, and the company accesses them over the Internet. The difference is that instead of going to the company’s location, an interaction is directly delivered to the best person to handle it, regardless of whether that person is in another location, in a contact center, in another line of business, working at home or even out of the office using a mobile phone. In addition, users are in control in the sense that rather than depending on in-house IT, they can access the service from anywhere with an Internet connection and get new features and functions without waiting for IT to upgrade.
LiveOps is a leading vendor in this market. Its contact center in the cloud includes inbound and outbound call management, interactions through e-mail, chat, IVR, call routing and CTI, and on the back end workforce management and performance management, reporting and analysis. All of these have been developed by LiveOps and so are tightly integrated and share a common user interface and central administration. Like its competitors, LiveOps has addressed typical user concerns so the service is physically and electronically secure, is highly scalable and boasts nearly zero downtime, including for system maintenance.
The latest version of the LiveOps service enables business users to create their own call-routing scenarios, using an intuitive interface. The system then drives new routing algorithms so that call flows match business requirements. It also has enhanced reporting and analysis, both historic and real time, which can be customized to individual requirements.
My experience shows that companies’ biggest concerns about cloud-based solutions are security, resilience and performance. The LiveOps technology address these issues through another service it calls a workforce cloud – essentially an outsourced interaction-handling service. LiveOps employs more than 2,000 agents that handle the customer’s interactions, using the cloud-based contact center. The service is thus secure, and able to handle large volumes of calls and employ enough agents to take them. These agents are all based at home, further proving that a cloud-based product is most effective at supporting a highly distributed service.
All this said, I add that my most recent research into agent performance management shows that most companies still prefer on-premises solutions. But this is changing, especially in areas such as CRM where salesforce.com is leading the way in proving that cloud-based services are cost-effective, secure and resilient and provide companies with the means to innovate in how they run their business. As the blogs I mentioned earlier point out, the contact center market in the past has not been very innovative, and companies have been reluctant to move to the cloud. This service from LiveOps could change the game, and companies looking to create a new center or replace their existing facilities should consider it. Have you considered moving your contact center to the cloud?
Richard Snow – VP & Global Research Director