Contact centres and the cloud
Five9’s Brian Atkinson on the technical features businesses need to consider when making the move to cloud-based contact centres
When organisations are looking to make decisions that may affect the day-to-day running of the business, all areas must be considered to ensure the solution is the right option. The switch from legacy on-premises technologies to cloud-based infrastructure can result in a lot in time and cost savings for a company. During this process, all technical capabilities should be considered to ensure long-term benefits that support business growth as well. Solutions need to be secure, flexible and reliable so that if failure occurs, it’s business-as-usual. Today, the use of cloud-based technologies is becoming a normality in business architecture. Investing in the right solutions for a business starts with research. Can it meet the current needs of the business and ensure competitive longevity for the future as business needs change? It is important to understand that as a business grows, the technical capabilities need to continue to meet the organisational needs. Today, the contact centre is the front door to businesses, and companies need to provide fast and reliable solutions for their contact centres to serve customers’ needs, even if expectations continuously evolve. Require reliability Reliability was at the forefront of business minds in the early days of the cloud. The technology gave companies control over upgrades and fixing any issues that came up, all while maintaining the uptime that their on-premises systems had.
Today, the discussion regarding reliability for cloud vendors has coalesced around uptime being comparable or greater than that of on-premises software. Most businesses need solutions to be available during operating hours. Not surprisingly, we use the word availability to refer to whether a particular service is accessible when needed. A cloud solution providing very high uptime effectively achieves the availability requirement for all businesses – 24/7 availability. If a business only operates between the hours of let’s say nine to five, a system that is always available between those hours would meet business needs. A minimum uptime of 33% is all that would be required. This assumes that the system would only be unavailable after hours, which is not a reasonable assumption. Reliability requirements for business solutions depend on the nature of usage and its importance to the organisation. Organisations are dependent on the software they use and rely on technical capabilities every day so it’s ‘business as normal’. With reliability from providers, organisations can ensure their customers are getting great experiences, every single time. Preparing for future technical issues Failure within systems is inevitable no matter how well the platform is built. Because of this, some level of redundancy is required to create a highly reliable system. Architecture should be designed so that any individual failure has a fallback and can be substituted without human intervention. Areas of consideration for redundancy include hardware, process, network and even geographical locations. Businesses need to ask themselves if action is required from someone on the teams, what steps are required and in case of failure, if there is an automated process in place. A plan should be implemented so businesses are prepared for any and all technical issues.
Brian Atkinson, GM and VP EMEA, Five9
Eliminating barriers Flexibility is not at the forefront of businesses’ minds today, but it can save organisations from headaches down the road as they continue to grow and scale. Platforms built on legacy on-premises platforms tend to be very fragile and have trouble keeping up when it comes to releasing new products, feature enhancements, or even bug fixes. Understanding the architecture of the platforms will help determine the flexibility and agility when it comes to growth. Microservices are increasingly being used to ensure that a system is flexible and extensible. If a service provider is using them, it will be able to keep up with the latest market demands. Use of the latest technology, such as Kubernetes and Docker containers, may also indicate that a company is leveraging the technology behind the scenes to stay competitive and nimble. It doesn’t guarantee delivery of needed features, but at least it eliminates barriers to moving quickly based on market demand. If an existing software solution is not flexible, it can really slow down business operations as it may take weeks or months to deploy new products or features – which can cause huge disruptions. When choosing the right systems, businesses need to understand how they were built and their underlying third-party software components. Keeping private data, private Last but not least, it is all about security. Security is critically important for cloud businesses that store or have access to sensitive data. The information stored needs to stay encrypted and out of the hands of corrupt groups. This should be top priority. It is important that businesses understand the differences between companies that claim high security and those that have put policies and best practises in place to be highly secure. If security isn’t covered on a company’s corporate website, it could be an immediate red flag that it hasn’t taken proper steps to secure data within its own environment. Switching to the cloud is not always easy and even deciding which vendor is best suited to a business can be a mission in itself. Organisations will need to decide what their priorities are for the solutions they are deciding on, taking into account the reliability, flexibility and security of those vendors. IT teams will be in the first of those that companies go to for advice when deciding on which solutions are best for business needs. It is imperative that the solution can provide the right capabilities in a secure and reliable manner for years to come. If businesses keep the technical capabilities that they need in mind when looking for new solutions, they are in good stead to make the move to the cloud – now.