The cloud’ is one of the most popular topics in our industry today. Before I start diving into the benefits of cloud, I feel that I must first define a term used to describe a wide variety of delivery models: “cloud.”
My perspective is that cloud encompasses:
- Hosted perpetual licenses. You own the software, and have a third party manage and maintain it in their facility.
- SaaS subscription licenses. You rent the software, and have a third party manage and maintain it in their facility.
Cloud isn’t new. Companies have been touting the benefits for a decade, but only now has it hit the contact center and business operations sectors full force.
According to Gartner, a leading information technology research and advisory company (Cloud Computing Changes the Vendor Landscape), as more applications are built on a cloud-based model, SaaS will emerge as a critical selection factor at all levels of the customer service contact center. Gartner projects that the SaaS market will grow at 19.5% annually through 2016, and that global SaaS spending will grow to $32.8 billion in 2016.
- Adopting a cloud strategy, will result in a growing amount of contact centers and back offices that will fully recognize the core benefits of a cloud deployment: Flexible footprint. Contact centers and business operations are often seasonal, with bursts of volume during holidays or other peak periods. When software is delivered via SaaS, it is possible to expand and contract your license count to always match your workforce, thereby controlling costs.
- Rapid deployment. Rather than spend your time readying your hardware footprint and configuring the solution, you can turn it on and go.
- Latest capabilities. Cloud delivery ensures you have access to the newest releases and most advanced capabilities.
- Expense shift. Rather than investing in capital expenses like facilities, hardware, etc., cloud shifts your dollars to operating expenses (i.e., hosting fees)
This is the perfect place to clear up a misconception—cloud isn’t all or nothing. Many customer service leaders make the assumption that they need to move all the component applications of their ‘suite’, often called Workforce Optimization, to the cloud at once.
But they don’t. For example, when you move your Workforce Management (WFM) solution to the cloud, you can easily expand it to cover both the contact center and business operations, sharing the solution across the entire service organization. This makes it easier to schedule operations with greater efficiency and to address looming backlogs. Since the solution is shared, the workload can be shared; during slow periods, the business operations staff can help take calls (and vice versa, the contact center can process claims, loans, etc.).
Workforce Management probably isn’t the only solution in your contact center or business operations that could benefit from the efficiency of the cloud. You may have recording, quality and performance management solutions, analytics and other applications, as well. But you can start the process of moving into the cloud with your WFM solution—it can be the first.
The most challenging part of pursuing a more suitable solution is always taking the first few steps. But you can get the ball rolling in your company by making a solid case for a move to the cloud by focusing attention on the many benefits we’ve laid out here. WFM can be the pioneer test case, which lays a path to the cloud for other applications to follow. And you can take advantage of the move to introduce forecasting and scheduling to business operations and performance management across the organization.
Not only will your WFM solution be leaner and healthier as a result, but so will your entire operation. Now is the time to move your WFM solution to the cloud.