Hosting Whys and Hows
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April 2010 | Volume 28 / Number 11
Call Center Technology

Hosting Whys and Hows


By Brendan B. Read,
Senior Contributing Editor


Hosted or cloud contact center products, provided either by suppliers or third parties is becoming a mainstream alternative to buying and installing them on-premise. The key reasons for this demand and interest include capital and operating cost savings via reducing building footprint and IT support, greater scalability, continued and simplified access to technologies and improved security. Going hosted – also referred to as software as a service (SaaS (News - Alert)) – is a major change, though, for organizations that are accustomed to owning and internally managing their solutions.

We contacted several leading firms and authorities to get their insights on hosted contact center platform and solutions, including demand, service availability, challenges, best practices, and more. Here are excerpts of responses from several industry experts and thought leaders (for their complete responses, visit TMCnet online: tmcnet.com/27900.1).


CosmoCom (News - Alert) (www.cosmocom.com)

Steve Kowarsky, Executive Vice President

“During the due diligence process, contact centers need to assess what their needs are for hosted applications and select vendors which will accommodate their current needs as well as anticipate their growth in both capacity and functionality. Support of additional media, or growth into additional geographies, and expansion to larger agent populations should be seamless and not require reinventing the wheel in the provisioning process.”


Frost and Sullivan (www.frost.com)

Keith Dawson (News - Alert), Principal Analyst, Information & Communication Technologies

“Most people already have a significant investment in premise equipment, so that’s going to give anyone pause. I think from a user point of view, the biggest challenge is in coordinating the approach between contact center operations and IT – which is often very reluctant to approve a hosted (i.e., “external”) approach to technology management. I highly recommend getting IT buy- in as early in the process as you can. Also, you want your hosted provider to give you a very specific ROI and TCO calculation.”


inContact (www.incontact.com)

Jim Tanner, Senior Vice President, Product and Strategy


“Today, it is possible that the entire technology of a contact center is run in the cloud. We’re seeing increasing adoption to
this model in all areas of call routing, including ACD, CTI (News - Alert), and IVR. It’s interesting to see the growth in agent optimization tools being used in the cloud. Those tools, including WFM, e-learning, proactive hiring, coaching, survey and quality monitoring can be extremely difficult and time consuming to deploy on-premise, and we’re seeing a large number of companies showing significant interest in putting those solutions in the cloud.”


LiveOps (News - Alert) (www.liveops.com)

Paul Lang, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Product Management


“All products that make up a contact center solution are and can be hosted. While they have served well for many years, aging technologies and on-premise sites are reaching their end of life. Many companies are deciding to break away from the constraints of disparate, fragmented technology and high monthly maintenance fees within their existing contact centers. Increasingly, they are demanding flexible solutions that help them react quickly to business changes like spikes in contact volumes.”

Ensuring Hosted Solution Performance

How do you ensure that your hosted or SaaS solutions perform as well as on-premises-installed applications so that your agents can provide quick, accurate and seamless service to customers? Knoa (News - Alert) Software’s (www.knoa.com ) VCEM Virtual/ Cloud Experience Manager (VCEM) could fit the bill. VCEM monitors and manages agent and supervisor experience in
using enterprise-scaled products such as CRM, e-learning, routing and workforce and knowledge management.


One of its features is dynamic base-lining by which it tracks metrics such as response times and system and user errors when they vary over time and compares them to typical norms. Another is dynamic benchmarking, which enables system performance analysis prior to and after any change in your internal infrastructure that feeds the hosted applications to the agents. VCEM alerts managers who then alert the hosted providers or IT staff if the issue is with the infrastructure to the problem.


Dynamic benchmarking can also be used to monitor user behavior. Since SaaS vendors introduce new functionality more
frequently than on-premise suppliers, Lori Wizdo (News - Alert), vice president of marketing, points out this feature also makes sure that new functionality delivered by the vendor has not changed user adoption/ usage in any negative way. For instance the new functionality might require additional user training; the “before and after” tracking of user error patterns will show you that.

 


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