Setting the Record Straight About Cloud-Based Contact Centers

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1 Setting the Record Straight About Cloud-Based Contact Centers September 2012 Sponsored by: DMG Consulting LLC

2 Table of Contents Introduction... 1 Cloud-Based Solutions Are Secure... 1 Cloud-Based Solutions Should Integrate with Premise-Based Solutions... 2 Customization is Key... 4 Moving to the Cloud Does Not Mean Losing Control... 5 Final Thoughts... 6 About Echopass... 7 About DMG Consulting i DMG Consulting LLC

3 Introduction The cloud-based (also known as hosted) contact center infrastructure market hit its stride in New market entrants, improved functionality, converging market trends, the need for virtual, multi-channel, scalable and flexible servicing infrastructures, and a slowly recovering economy have contributed to a perfect storm. The pace of adoption is accelerating and is expected to continue to pick up momentum. When cloud-based contact centers were first introduced more than 15 years ago, the innovators believed that they would democratize the world of contact centers by making technology costeffective for small and mid-sized servicing environments. The goal of the early adopters has been accomplished. The concept of cloud-based solutions has captured the imaginations and pocketbooks of IT and business leaders, as well as CFOs who see it as a highly effective method for acquiring technology without a major capital outlay or risk. However, cloud-based solutions are no longer just for small environments. Currently, most sales of cloud-based contact center solutions are for environments of 100 to 250 seats, and deal sizes continue to grow. Although cloud-based solutions are not for everyone, both public and private-sector organizations are already realizing their benefits and are looking to expand their implementations. The cloud-based contact center infrastructure market has changed a great deal over the years. These innovations are facilitating the adoption and roll-out of these solutions to larger and more complex operating environments. This white paper is going to set the record straight with regard to four common misconceptions about the cloud-based contact center infrastructure market: security, integration, customization and control. Cloud-Based Solutions Are Secure Security is the top concern regarding cloud-based contact centers. Here are some facts that should dispel some of the misperceptions: 1. Cloud-based contact center solutions are typically delivered from highly protected Tier 4 data centers. Tier 4 data centers are built to protect customers from any type of service disruption. The physical site is monitored by video surveillance cameras, and entrance into the facility requires multiple levels of verification. In fact, this makes these data centers more physically secure than the environments where most businesses put their own contact center solutions. 2. Cloud-based contact center vendors use the same industry best practices for security as enterprises with mission-critical IT operations. But these vendors take it to the next level, as their success depends entirely upon providing secure and uninterrupted service. So, users of cloud-based contact center solutions are likely to get an environment that is at least as well-protected as their own, and possibly even more so. 3. Cloud-based contact center solutions generally come with the same security protections as premise-based solutions. Standard features include an audit trail report that logs every system change and who made it; encryption of data at rest (recordings), as well as any data passed between agents or premise-based DMG Consulting LLC

4 applications; password protection and possibly even support for single-sign on to make it easier for agents to use the application. The solutions also provide voice security and intrusion detection to prevent the hijacking of Internet Protocol (IP) services. The leading vendors constantly conduct security assessments, and will share these reports on an as needed basis. 4. Cloud-based contact center vendors have experts dedicated to protecting the security of data in both their own and their clients environments. These resources are available to work with clients internal security personnel, as needed. When looking for a cloud-based contact center infrastructure vendor, check to see if they follow the security best practices listed in Figure 1. Figure 1: Security Best Practices for Cloud-Based Contact Center Infrastructure Vendors Source: DMG Consulting LLC, September 2012 Prospects considering any cloud-based or hosted contact center application should carefully assess its security features prior to including it in a full selection process, because these capabilities vary greatly. Cloud-Based Solutions Should Integrate with Premise-Based Solutions A contact center operating environment may include up to 40 different applications and solutions that fall into one of five general categories: DMG Consulting LLC

5 1. Core primary solutions that are required to operate a contact center 2. Management solutions that enhance the management of contact centers 3. Supporting optional solutions that are used to improve the effectiveness of contact centers 4. Servicing customer relationship management, customer tracking, collections, sales management or other solutions that are used to track and fulfill customer requests 5. Common applications that are used throughout the enterprise, including the contact center A cloud-based contact center infrastructure solution typically comes with the core functional components seen in Figure 2, including routing and queuing, dialing, computer telephony integration (CTI), interactive voice response (IVR), universal queue, presence, recording and reporting. It s essential for a cloud-based contact center solution to be able to integrate with home-grown or third-party solutions, whether they are premise-based or in the cloud. Ease of integration is an important differentiator for cloud-based contact center infrastructure providers. Leading cloud-based contact center infrastructure solutions come with out-of-the-box connectors to enable integrations, as well as highly trained professional services resources who are experienced in getting complex integrations done. The better-designed applications use a services-oriented architecture (SOA) that facilitates integration and makes it relatively easy for the application vendor or end user to get it done quickly and without great cost. Figure 2: Cloud-Based Contact Center Infrastructure Solutions Source: DMG Consulting LLC, September DMG Consulting LLC

6 For years, hosted contact center infrastructure vendors shied away from integrations with premise-based solutions or other hosted applications, such as IVRs, as this required a level of expertise that they did not have. But as these solutions begin to be adopted in larger environments, integrating with third-party applications has become a requirement. Many companies that are considering migrating to cloud-based solutions already are using quality assurance, workforce management, surveying, customer relationship management, and many other applications. Even if they had the funds to purchase new applications, they would not want to replace all of their existing applications at once, as it would create too much turmoil. DMG Consulting cautions prospects to carefully assess their prospective vendor s integration capabilities, knowledge, resources and experience, as well as the cost of these integrations. Most cloud-based contact center infrastructure vendors now claim to have sophisticated integration capabilities, since it s required to win the bigger deals. However, only a few actually have a proven track record. And while SOA simplifies the integration challenge, nothing replaces experience. DMG recommends a careful check of customer references to ensure that a preferred vendor has the necessary integration expertise. Customization is Key End users are increasingly choosing cloud-based solutions because of their value proposition no capital investment, low implementation costs, ongoing technology refresh, no need to manage hardware, and availability of skilled resources to maintain the solution. While organizations want the benefits of cloud-based solutions, they do not want to give up the advantages of premise-based solutions, including the ability to customize them to their specific needs and integrate them with their preferred third-party solutions. The early cloud-based contact center infrastructure vendors were not willing (or able) to customize their solutions, as to do so would go against the traditional cloud-based model of one size fits all. But as the market has evolved, the more mature vendors have often been willing to customize solutions to meet clients specific needs. Customization has accounted for many of the innovations in the market, and it will continue to be an effective way for vendors to obtain funding to develop new functionality. However, while customization is a must have for organizations that have unique requirements, delivering and maintaining custom features will continue to be challenging for some of the cloud-based vendors, depending upon the underlying architecture of their solutions. Vendors who allow customization must be able to support and maintain multiple builds of their solution, and this is not easy. Therefore, a vendor s customization capability and approach is another important differentiator. DMG Consulting frequently hears IT managers telling business units that cloud-based vendors cannot customize solutions and that they will have to give up some of the capabilities of their premise-based solution if they want to transition to the cloud. Although there still are some cloud-based contact center infrastructure vendors who cannot customize and others who do not want to make client-specific changes, there are some who are happy to deliver the functionality that the client wants, in the way that they want it. Realistically, however, it will take these vendors time to make the changes, and there will be some additional cost, as is to be expected from any software provider DMG Consulting LLC

7 Prospects who want specific features that are not currently available should first identify vendors who are known to be open to performing customizations. After finding the right provider, work with them to develop the business and technical specifications for the feature. Next, find out exactly how long it is going to take and how much it is going to cost to build the feature. Then include all of the details in the purchase agreement, as this will ensure that the expected customizations will be delivered in the specified time frames. Moving to the Cloud Does Not Mean Losing Control As shown in Figure 3, it takes support from the contact center, IT, carriers and the vendor to successfully implement a cloud-based contact center infrastructure solution. This Figure lists the common tasks and responsibilities of all constituents before, during and after implementation of a cloud-based contact center solution. This Figure makes it clear that the business and IT must actively participate in all project phases for the cloud-based implementation to succeed. However, if a business does not have its own IT and networking group, the cloud-based vendor can fill in and provide the necessary expertise. Figure 3: Cloud-Based Contact Center Infrastructure Project Resources Source: DMG Consulting LLC, September 2012 Implementing a cloud-based contact center solution is easier than putting one in-house, because there is no hardware. Therefore, all of the effort is concentrated on making sure that the solution is set up and configured properly. This is another area where the cloud-based vendor can be very helpful. Many companies have limited IT support for their contact center, due to constrained budgets. When this is the case, DMG Consulting recommends asking the DMG Consulting LLC

8 cloud-based vendor to perform an up-front audit of the in-house routing and queuing functionality, instead of just setting it up to be exactly the same as it is in the current configuration. This is particularly important if the selected vendor can provide new capabilities that were not available to the client in the past. The advantages of cloud-based contact center infrastructure solutions go well beyond the documented benefits of any cloud-based solution. Part of the excitement for the contact center market is that the cloud-based vendors are introducing true innovation in many areas, including adaptive real-time routing and queuing, solution breadth and integration capabilities. When it comes to supporting a contact center after implementation, it s really up to the business unit and IT to decide who should be responsible for various aspects of the solution. In the world of cloud computing, the hardware is the full responsibility of the vendor, freeing IT from handling this critical but often tedious task. However, someone needs to be responsible for all moves, adds and changes, as well as for more sophisticated configuration, routing and IVR modifications. Depending upon the environment, this can be the responsibility of the business, IT or the vendor, and it s up to each company s implementation team to decide what works best for them. The fact is that with a cloud-based solution, the business has more control than in the past, and IT can decide what role it wants to play, depending upon their budget and available resources. Final Thoughts Cloud-based contact center infrastructure solutions may not be right for every environment, but it s clear that they are appealing to a growing segment of companies, large and small. In addition to the traditional benefits of any cloud-based solution, they are so much greater for the contact center infrastructure market where a great deal of innovation is coming from an emerging group of competitors. Adoption of cloud-based contact center solutions is a worldwide phenomenon. In 2011, DMG Consulting conducted a benchmark study where business and IT managers around the world were asked if they were using cloud-based contact center solutions. The answer was that 40.9% of survey respondents worldwide were already investing in these solutions, and more were looking into them. This is not a passing fad. It is the fastest-growing sector of the contact center infrastructure market and cloud-based solutions are going to account for an increasing percentage of new purchases for the foreseeable future DMG Consulting LLC

9 About Echopass Echopass offers cloud-based contact center services from its three North America-based data centers that are fully integrated and backed by end-to-end service level agreements (SLAs). These data centers have multiple carrier access, industry-leading security, redundancy and reliability as key deliverables to the company's clients. Main industry verticals for Echopass include health care, financial services, insurance, hospitality, consumer goods, transportation, government and retail. Echopass' underlying Symmetry platform leverages Genesys for its core call routing and CTI combined with other best-of-breed partner components such as Verint, Microsoft, Nuance and IBM. Echopass integrates these and other leading technologies and applications into its services, and delivers the end-toend complete solution through the cloud model. Echopass sells directly and through partners. Its go-tomarket partners include Voxify, Maximus, CSC, Voice Curve, Medicall, ATS, Verizon, Sprint, XO, Level 3, RightNow, and Salesforce.com. For more information, visit About DMG Consulting DMG Consulting LLC is an independent research, advisory and consulting firm that provides strategic and tactical advice to contact center managers, vendors and the financial community regarding the contact center, analytics and back-office markets. Our mission is to help clients build world-class contact center and back-office environments by leveraging technology, processes and people. We provide insight and guidance to assist management in optimizing performance by increasing operational efficiency, providing an outstanding customer experience, enhancing loyalty, and increasing sales and profits. DMG devotes more than 10,000 hours annually to researching various segments of the contact center, analytics and back-office markets, including vendors, technologies, best practices, solutions and their benefits and ROI. More information about DMG Consulting can be found at DMG Consulting LLC

10 2012 DMG Consulting LLC. All rights reserved. This Report is protected by United States copyright law. The reproduction, transmission or distribution of this Report in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of DMG Consulting LLC is strictly prohibited. You may not alter or remove any copyright, trademark or other notice from this Report. This Report contains data, materials, information and analysis that is proprietary to and the confidential information of DMG Consulting LLC and is provided for solely to purchasers of this Report for their internal use. THIS REPORT AND ANY DATA, MATERIALS, INFORMATION AND ANALYSIS CONTAINED HEREIN MAY NOT BE DISCLOSED TO OR USED BY ANY OTHER PERSON OR ENTITY WITHOUT THE EXPRESS PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT OF DMG CONSULTING LLC. Substantial effort went into verifying and validating the accuracy of the information contained within this Report, however, DMG Consulting LLC disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy or completeness of this information. DMG Consulting LLC shall not be liable for any errors or omissions in the information contained herein or for any losses or damages arising from use hereof DMG Consulting LLC

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