Companies grappling with new and diverse expectations around customer service are turning to Communication-as-a-Service model (CaaS) for a more agile, cloud-based omnichannel experience.
The shift to cloud services is no surprise, with IDC predicting the total cloud services market will grow to $2.4 billion by 2017, with a compound annual growth rate of 25 per cent.
However, the success of cloud will depend on how willing service providers are to offer tailored offerings, as not all solutions currently cater to each company’s unique set of requirements without adding considerable cost and complexity.
“Flexibility is a key factor for [CaaS] customers. It needs to be cloud, but cloud your way, without missing out on key features or functions,” says Chris Borg, senior technical account manager for Interactive Intelligence.
“A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. Customers want the flexibility to deploy in the cloud in a way that is best for their business. CaaS should be an enabler of IT and their business without becoming a burden.”
Companies should be seeking a CaaS provider that takes the time to understand their unique requirements and determine where the cloud can bring the most operational efficiency. To accommodate this, Interactive Intelligence offers both a full cloud and hybrid solution that support preferences around storage and capability.
One solution, two offerings
Customers hoping to leverage CaaS will likely be seeking the agility required to handle varying demand on their contact centre and meet customer expectations, while being able to rapidly scale up or down as needed and only paying for what’s used.
“Some may choose to transfer all contact centre operations over to the cloud for a complete consumption-based offering, though more and more we see companies opting for a hybrid solution, keeping certain applications or sensitive data on-premise,” says Borg.
The mixture of public and private solutions is expected to grow, with Gartner predicting that half of large enterprises would adopt hybrid cloud models by 2017. In particular, a hybrid CaaS solution is becoming crucial for organisations who want to cherry pick certain functions, while maintaining control of sensitive customer data within internal networks, either due to company mantra or rules around data privacy and governance.
Recent research by the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) into cloud adoption practices and priorities found 73 per cent of respondents cited data security concerns as a barrier to cloud adoption, while 38 per cent were concerned about regulatory compliance. Another 38 per cent said potential loss of control over services was a key barrier to adoption of cloud.
Interactive Intelligence allows companies to keep sensitive data secure and maintain appropriate levels of regulatory compliance by keeping voice path, recording or other sensitive data on-premise, while maintaining control of contact centre workloads.
Having access to geo-redundancy is an important factor for potential cloud customers as the CSA report found concern over business continuity was another key barrier to cloud (28 per cent).
“Some organisations want to begin by adopting a hybrid model and then move everything to the cloud as a second step in the application deployment process, others prefer to maintain a hybrid model but turn certain functionalities on and off when needed,” says Borg.
“With us, it’s a true partnership with the business, and we spend time with the customer understanding their specific technical and operational needs, and then tailor a solution. That way customers are able to maximise ROI, while effectively future proofing their investment in the cloud.”
Flexibility and future proofing
Another key concern for businesses is the ‘all or nothing’ approach many cloud vendors take to service provision, often resulting in an overlap of capabilities and costs thanks to existing investments. Interactive Intelligence’s CaaS solution offers all cross-channel needs, but customers need only access functionality they require.
“Choice is key for our customers, there’s no limitation on core functions like call recording, quality management or monitoring, all those elements remain the same irrespective of the architecture chosen,” says Brad Starr, Head of Customer Transformation Service, APAC with Interactive Intelligence.
“We install thousands of different licenses on the system and they can turn these features on or off as they need to. If they want to try a new application for a month, they can just pay for it for that month. Simple.”
A solution that supports targeted strategic growth plans without a change in platforms, applications, or providers is also becoming crucial.
“If customers tell us they want to be able to scale to meet changing business requirements and conditions, no matter how large or complex their business becomes, we can do that,” says Borg. “We’re supporting customers that go global with our local data centres, including the US, Canada and Europe,” says Starr.
With the myriad of cloud solutions popping up in the marketplace, it’s easy for companies to become overwhelmed with choice. Customers looking for proven reliability should seek out mature solutions.
“Cloud is great for many reasons, but validating it and doing all the necessary checks to make sure the vendor is actually going to deliver on all the features and functionalities that the business wants is critical,” says Starr.
“We have a mature deployment and implementation team that have been offering and developing this solution for more than twenty years, and we’ve been successful in transitioning to the cloud over the last five years. The conversion from an application solution to cloud was a simple one for Interactive Intelligence, where as our competitors are generally hardware converted to cloud which has proven to be a far less smooth change” says Borg
“Our maturity levels enable the customer to validate that we are capable of providing the service, flexibility and quality of service they need.”
Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.