Editor's Choice - Featured Article

July 30, 2013

Interactive Intelligence Provides Insights on Moving Contact Centers to the Cloud Challenges

In case you missed it, and thankfully you can still get the full benefits of attending, the recent Interactive Intelligence (News - Alert) webinar, Making the Business Case for Moving Your Contact Center to the Cloud, was a “must listen” on several scores. 

Joe Staples (News - Alert), CMO of Interactive Intelligence, and Keith Dawson, principal analyst at Ovum, led over 1,200 participants through the key components of presenting a successful business case for moving your contact center to the cloud. They detailed the qualitative and quantitative advantages, and discussed the importance of engaging other departments – IT, marketing, finance, operations, c-level – to garner the support needed to make the move. They were joined during the Q&A by Elizabeth Herrell (News - Alert), principal analyst, Communication Initiatives and J.R. Simmons, president & principal consultant, COMgroup, Inc.

image via shutterstock

Having such a sizable and interested group online, the webinar put a simple but important question on the table for response: “What’s the biggest obstacle to get buy-in for moving the contact center to the cloud?” The answers in rank order were a revelation. 

  1. Lack of understanding about cloud benefits by senior team members (41 percent)
  2. Cost justification (14 percent)
  3. General IT resistance (14 percent)
  4. Perceived security risks (9 percent)
  5. Absence of mature offerings (5 percent)

Given the results of the poll I thought I’d ask Staples for his insights on the responses.   

“The poll was a bit surprising, but actually contained good news. You would have thought that cost justification would have had a larger percentage and the number of those who feel their senior management lacks understanding about the benefits of the cloud would have been somewhat lower. You do have to like that the security and other numbers are low. What we are seeing is that they are heading lower.” 

He continued that, “Our business is on track for 50 percent of the dollar volume to be cloud by the end of the year. This is up from just 5 percent in 2009. The cloud has taken hold. The good news for Interactive Intelligence as a pacesetter in the space is that the poll shows there is still a lot of runway left for a long period of time.” 

In terms of accounting for why C-levels appear to lack understanding of cloud benefits, we both agreed that with so much on their plates getting all of the stakeholders to focus on this reflects both the challenge and the opportunity.

Staples remarked that the recession really got the attention of C-levels on the need to transform their contact centers as a key tool for cutting costs while also improving the customer experience. As I have noted in previous articles, the contact center is the front door of an enterprises supply chain improving the customer experience. It touches everything from basic interactions to helping automate and modernize workflows. 

As importantly the cloud, provides all of the benefits of giving the increasingly distributed workforce access to the best and most up-to-date tools available when and how they need them. Simultaneously, the cloud provides upper management a compelling total cost of ownership (TCO) business case both operationally and from a customer intimacy perspective as well. It frees up CapEx budgets and gives IT the ability to focus more on supporting the enterprise’s business and managing risks rather than just focusing on maintaining hardware, software, physical structures and the rest of what goes into managing a 24/7/365 infrastructure.

The benefits of the cloud are manifold, and Interactive Intelligence has a nice graphic presentation, embedded below, that sums them up. 

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Making the Business Case for Moving Your Contact Center to the Cloud

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Making the Business Case for Moving Your Contact Center to the Cloud

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Making the Business Case for Moving Your Contact Center to the Cloud

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Making the Business Case for Moving Your Contact Center to the Cloud


If you look at the big triggers of contact center transformation that have arisen in the past few years —moving from voice interactions only to multi-channel ones, shifting from traditional voice telephony to IP, and the shift to the cloud—as Staples noted, “We believe the shift to the cloud is the biggest of the three.”

As Staples stated, in conversation with C-levels around the world, Interactive Intelligence increasing hears that senior executives want to get out of the traditional IT business and us that valuable resource more productively in terms of supporting the business instead of the infrastructure. “The TCO business case really is compelling, and there is a growing sense of urgency that the time to accelerate a move to the cloud as a solution that can be readily justified is now,” he stated. “The bottom line is education. Gartner (News - Alert) is estimating that by 2016 roughly 50 percent of all communications will be delivered as a service. Educating the customer on the value is how we get from here to there.”

He did not have to add that the transformation of the contact center via a move to the cloud is going to represent a significant and important part of that number. In fact, it is also noteworthy that Gartner just placed Interactive intelligence in its Leaders Quadrant for in the Contact Center Infrastructure category. 

That big addressable market of not fully educated senior managers, along with IT departments who culturally need to be brought along as their roles are re-defined awaits the industry engaging them in the TCO conversation.  It happens to be a great story. As the webinar point out, it is possible to accelerate management confidence that acceleration of a move to the cloud not only makes good business sense, but the time to consider such a move is sooner rather than later. 

As Staples pointed out, this is not going to necessarily be easy since skepticism is always a hard thing to break. However, you have to agree that the poll as Staples says, “Is directionally correct.”

Edited by Ryan Sartor

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