Dipping your toes into the cloud

Spoken | August 9, 2016

Tips for an easy, non-disruptive transition to a call center cloud

Toe in waterWith all the talk about the cloud these days, it’s easy, as a business owner or manager, to feel the pressure to jump right in with both feet and migrate all of your operations to the cloud. However, jumping in with both feet isn’t really necessary and can in fact be quite disruptive.

Here at Spoken, we recommend a more gradual approach, something akin to dipping a toe into the cloud waters (pardon the mixed metaphors!), rather than jumping in with both feet or diving in head-first. Why? The cloud represents not only a major change in infrastructure but also in cost modeling, security and daily maintenance. Dipping a toe in the waters by transitioning and testing only a small percentage of call volume at a time is far less disruptive and gives both IT staff and end users time to review, test and adjust.

What is the cloud, anyway?

First off, let’s do a quick review of what the cloud actually is. The term “cloud” generally refers to remote, off-premise data center(s) that can deliver information technology (IT) services to corporate customers. So, rather than hosting all computing services in a single, vulnerable location, they are hosted elsewhere, preferably over several geographically diverse data center sites.

And keep in mind that the hybrid cloud is common in the call center space, a model by which most services happen via remote servers, but some data (such as customer information) is still hosted exclusively on premise.

Why cloud?

And the why almost always must follow the what. Cloud implementations in the call center space are in the more mature part of the hype cycle, having moved beyond inflated expectations and are now solidly camped in the Slope of Enlightenment, with IT managers and the C suite alike acknowledging the benefits:

  • Scalability: For call centers in particular, the ability to scale volume up or down on a dime without extensive capex or purchasing cycles is a huge benefit.
  • Lower cost: The cloud significantly lowers operational costs for those companies using it; this is especially beneficial to small businesses.
  • Reliability: The right cloud platform can provide geographic redundancy that is often lacking in on-premise installations, providing a more secure and more reliable bang for the buck.

A place to start

Starting lineNow, for the strategy on how to transition from the physical data centers that we’re used to to the more flexible and affordable cloud model. The first step in dipping your toe in to the cloud is to target  elements to transition. A great way to do this is by answering the following questions:

  • Do you have overflow call volume that could be taken to the cloud?
  • Is there a key 800-number that could transition 5% of its call volume to the cloud for comparison?
  • Which elements are performing at a less than optimal level?
    • Call recording?
    • Interactive Voice Response (IVR)?
    • Agent desktop?
  • Which hardware investments are aging out of their contracts?
    • Automated Call Distributor (ACD)?
  • Which elements are not providing an acceptable cost/return ratio?
    • Maybe one service number has a lower call volume?
    • An 800-number has a less productive call volume?

Next, evaluate the improved efficiency of these elements while targeting the ones that offer the least risk and business disruption. The change to cloud needn’t be a one-time migration; a targeted, gradual transition ensure business continuity.

Why à la carte matters

A good cloud provider will have the ability to offer cloud services à la carte to facilitate a gradual transition to the cloud. Many of Spoken’s enterprise customers, for example, begin with a burning need for a more efficient call recording platform and are seeking to avoid the headache of maintaining an on-premise call recording tool. With our à la carte platform, they begin with a single service such as call recording, and over time, they add additional cloud services as needed or as their existing infrastructure ages out of its maintenance contracts.

Once you’ve targeted which elements will be moving to the cloud, you’ll want to work with your cloud provider to devise a specific plan that will facilitate the transition. Remember that a realistic transition plan will include technical discovery, education, proposal, contract, design and several rounds of user testing before a full launch. And of course, verify that the provider has the ability to revert to the original state, should anything catastrophic happen during launch.

Dipping your toe in by taking one service at a time, assessing its needs, evaluating the alternative and then planning the move is a great strategy for enjoying all the benefits the cloud can offer your business.

A case study

Arise case study thumbnailAt Spoken, our philosophy is that a cloud platform should provide both a place to start and a path to the future. That is, it should facilitate dipping that toe into the waters but also provide a technological advantage for implementations long into the future. Let’s take a look at one outsourcer’s gradual cloud transition.

Arise Virtual Solutions is a great example of a partner and outsourcer that transitioned to the cloud gradually with excellent results. Arise chose to partner with Spoken to help transition their clients from an on-premise platform to a more scalable and reliable cloud platform. The key challenge was to do this with minimal to no disruption to client services.

Spoken’s solution architects and consulting team developed a method for smoothly transitioning 22 of Arise’s small, medium and large clients onto the Spoken platform. We began with the smallest client and used the issues discovered during that process to inform the following mid-sized and large-scale transitions. Small clients were implemented in 30 days, medium clients in 45 days and larger clients within 60 days.

Each client was approached as a custom implementation and each was offered a selection of products from Spoken’s à la carte menu that would best suit their needs. Each of the clients adhered to a strict schedule of requirements gathering, planning, development, implementation, testing and rollout.

The end result was that each of the clients was transitioned to the Spoken platform without a single rollback. The new cloud platform reduced agent support calls by 99%, which resulted in a savings of over $340,000 per year in operational expenses. The scalable platform allowed Arise’s phenomenal growth strategy to shine without restriction, and the outsourcer’s revenue tripled from $50 million yearly to $150 million over a period of two years. You can read the full Arise case study for more details on this project.

For both enterprise and outsourcers alike, Spoken’s method of providing a place to start–or a means to dip your toe into the cloud waters–by providing à la carte solutions and offering a graduated transition to the cloud has proven to be successful. And what’s more, the headaches and barriers to cloud entry are removed by this smooth, frictin-free process.

What about you? What is preventing your transition to the cloud?

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