Cloud-based systems have arrived as an option for how organizations source their IT systems, now and in the future. Proponents of the cloud – of which I am one – will tell you they have several major advantages over conventional on-premises systems. They require little upfront capital expenditure; the major costs come as a monthly “rental” charge for using the service rather than an annual license; they are less demanding on in-house resources; they are quicker, easier and less risky to implement; there is no annual maintenance fee as updates are built into the service charge; and organizations have disaster recovery taken care of by the vendor. With this background I recently carried out benchmark research to discover organizations’ current and likely adoption of cloud-based systems to support their contact center operations.
I broke the analysis into three areas: communication technologies, business applications and analytics. The results confirmed what I expected: CRM is the application most often currently used in the cloud, by just over one-quarter of participating companies. Somewhat surprisingly about as many have adopted text analytics in the cloud, which I suspect many are using to analyze the content of social media. In addition to these two, the results showed significant adoption of video, CTI, text messaging, feedback management, e-learning and social media analytics (a specific form of text analytics) in the cloud.
For the future, the research indicates that the adoption of cloud-based systems is likely to increase. Of the three areas we researched, based on participants’ stated plans for adopting systems over the next two years, communication systems is likely to grow fastest; for call routing, social media and video adoption rates in the cloud are likely to equal or exceed on-premises. The next fastest growth area is business applications; quality monitoring, call recording, social media integration, feedback management and e-learning all will equal or exceed on-premises. Lagging in third place is analytics; here companies seem less confident of moving to the cloud with only operational intelligence and speech analytics likely to equal on-premises.
We found clear evidence of this trend in the responses to a question central to contact centers and their performance: “How are you planning to meet the requirements to improve interaction-handling in your company?” It is evident that handling interactions is still a people-based process, so the top option was to improve training and coaching for everyone who handles them. However a close second was the adoption of cloud-based systems, which 27 percent more companies chose than investing in on-premises systems. To me this shows that organizations are overcoming their concerns about moving to the cloud and simple economics is making it a more attractive alternative.
Is moving to the cloud on your agenda for 2012? If so, please tell us more by collaborating with me on this topic.
Richard Snow – VP & Research Director