[Editor’s note: Below is a guest blog from Donna Fluss, President of DMG Consulting LLC. To dive into the topic further, check out Donna’s full whitepaper titled, ‘IT Managers’ Guide to Cloud-Based Contact Center Infrastructure.’]
The purpose of this blog post is to debunk the myth that IT resources are not needed when contact center infrastructure solutions – automatic call distributors (ACDs), dialers, interactive voice response systems (IVRs)/intelligent virtual assistants (IVAs) –move to the cloud. There are many good and proven reasons for using cloud-based applications, but eliminating the need for internal technical resources (also known as IT) is not one of them.
Here are the facts. Vendors of cloud-based contact center infrastructure solutions provide hardware, software and often carrier services. The client is responsible for deciding how they want things to work – what types of interactions (calls, emails, chat, SMS, video, social media) to handle, how they want their channels to be routed and queued, which agents should support each of the channels, what real-time and historical reports are needed, etc. IT resources are needed to translate and convert the client’s business needs into the technical language required by the contact center infrastructure solution. IT is needed regardless of whether a contact center solution is on-premise or in the cloud. (Unless a company purchases a full managed service offering where a vendor is hired to provide the technology along with handling the day-to-day operations of the system, someone has to configure and administer the contact center solutions on an ongoing basis.)
IT’s Role Changes When Systems Move to the Cloud
When systems are moved to the cloud, business needs remain relatively the same, but the role of IT changes. Instead of being involved in setting up hardware and software, IT’s function becomes more strategic. IT must participate in vetting the solution to ensure it fits technically with the other systems used by the company. They must also be engaged in evaluating the security features of the cloud-based contact center infrastructure solution to ensure it adheres to the company’s requirements and can be safely integrated with existing third-party solutions, whether they are on-premise or in the cloud. And once the system is acquired, IT resources are needed to configure and administer the system, just as they would if the system were on-premise. A difference, though, is that most of the cloud-based contact center infrastructure vendors can provide expert resources and back-up when the IT needs assistance or is short on resources. This improves the operation of the system and enables both the business and IT to meet their goals.
Build Cooperation and Reduce Contention
For as long as there have been contact center solutions, there has been tension between the business and IT. The business is frustrated by, among other things, IT’s demand that they plan out their changes and resource requirements at the beginning of the year, which is nearly impossible because their needs are often driven by unexpected business and economic events. IT is unhappy with contact center leaders because they make what IT believes to be unfair demands for resources. There is an obvious lack of understanding between IT and contact center leaders, but cloud-based contact center infrastructure vendors can help bridge the gap.
Contact center leaders have to be positioned to deal with the unexpected. The best contact centers are those that are highly responsive to unforeseen events, and can “roll with the punches.” When these situations arise, the business frequently needs assistance from IT, who may already be resource-constrained. However, if IT has done their job properly, they will have established a relationship with their cloud-based contact center infrastructure vendor that allows them to ask (and pay) for assistance. This allows IT to address the business’s needs and get the job done in very tight time frames, without pulling resources from other projects, eliminating the conflict and positioning the company and contact center to deliver an outstanding customer experience.
The availability of cloud-based contact center infrastructure solutions changes the dynamics between the business and IT. However, IT resources are as necessary when using cloud-based systems as they are for on-premise solutions. The difference is that IT’s role becomes more strategic and better positioned for success.