From On-Premises to Cloud: The Evolution of Contact Centers

The move to a cloud contact center starts with foundational decisions on what matters most. Putting your customers first and engaging with them on the channels they prefer is critical, as is a focus on the needs of employees. But there’s also the budget. And that’s driving many businesses to consider a Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) solution.

CCaaS takes advantage of modern cloud-based customer experience solutions. By using a provider’s software, you keep upfront investment low and simplify technology implementation and use. This flexibility and scalability improves customer experiences across channels and better enables employees to serve those customers. Analysts agree that CCaaS is quickly replacing the traditional on-premises contact center infrastructure.

Genesys recently spoke with Art Schoeller, VP and Principal Analyst for Forrester, about cloud in the contact center and what it means for rolling out applications based on artificial intelligence (AI).

What is the Forrester view of the growth of the cloud contact center market?

Art Schoeller: Forrester estimates the cloud contact center market in 2019 was $2.0 billion and projects it to grow to $2.8 billion by 2022. And, in consulting work, Forrester clients confirm that migration to the cloud is top of mind. This is true even for those who plan to do one more on-premises upgrade in the next year.

How does cloud impact the approach to software development, and how does that benefit contact centers?

Schoeller: Legacy on-premises systems date back to an older software development methodology, called “waterfall.” That approach meant a lengthy process of defining requirements, development, testing and rollout measured in months and years. Cloud has led to innovation in software development using an “agile” model. This enables the rapid launch of products for customers to evaluate and provide feedback that guides developers. The result is fast delivery of enhancements in days and weeks. This level of speed and responsiveness means rapid innovation for contact centers to use technology for more efficiency and effectiveness, including connecting with customers on emerging channels.

Artificial intelligence (AI) holds great promise across many business applications and use cases. What impact will it have on customer service and contact centers?

Schoeller: Early on, Forrester clients had expectations for AI to greatly lower costs by reducing agent headcount. They expected this would happen by dramatically increasing automation of responses to customer service inquiries. One of our clients expected to automate 50% of live call interactions. While AI has increased automation, the results have been more modest. One other impact, though, is that it has increased the burden on live agents by paring down interactions to only those that are complex and require a higher level of agent skills and longer handle times.

AI technology is serving these new dynamics. For example, AI desktop assistants help agents better navigate these complex dialogs with customers. More advanced routing, enabled through omnichannel capabilities, provides a better match between customers and agents. AI also augments the abilities of quality assurance and workforce management teams boosting contact center efficiencies. Finally, AI can proactively identify “hot spots” in customer journeys, enabling customer experience teams to smooth out points of dissatisfaction and friction.

What role does cloud play in helping to deliver contact center AI applications?

Schoeller: AI requires lots of data and unique graphical processing unit (GPU) hardware. These capabilities are more readily available as a cloud service than on-premises. Applications that require natural language processing can also tap into more readily available cloud services from companies like Google, Amazon, IBM and Microsoft. Look for vendors that have built these critical partnerships.

Contact centers require a wide array of applications. How does cloud impact this?

Schoeller: The “best-of-breed” versus “application suite” question spans the entire range of business software. The move to cloud is coupled with a move to more integrated suites that pull in workforce optimization to a CCaaS solution.

What are some other considerations for moving to CCaaS?

Schoeller: Some organizations require the ability to scale up for seasonal increases or decreases in traffic. Think of retail and how their capacity needs increase during the holidays, and health insurance firms that need more capacity during annual enrollment periods.

For companies that use several outsourcers, a cloud solution enables them to manage the entire in-house and external agents on one system for consolidated traffic management, reporting and evaluations. These are major benefits to be gained from a cloud delivery approach versus more fixed and rigid on-premises software and hardware.

Watch the Genesys webinar with Art Schoeller for an in-depth discussion of what to look for in CCaaS solutions.