On premise or cloud: the call recording question

Spoken | August 9, 2016

23444114_sA side-be-side comparison of on-premise vs. cloud contact center call recording

by John Nicholson, Sales Engineer

Call recording, or the audio capture of contact center interactions, is a common requirement for quality assurance, historical reference and sometime for legal compliance within the call center. With the rise of cloud-based recording solutions, contact center owners are struggling with the choice between deploying a familiar yet limited on-premise solution or risking the transition to the cloud.

And then there is the question of which calls to record. The substantial investment required to deploy and maintain an on-premise recording solution often leads to the decision to perform selective recording. And while cloud can easily offer 100% call recording, it also carries its own set of disadvantages.

I have worked in both fields, myself. I have sold and installed both on-premise recording solutions and cloud-based ones. And the industry is changing. So before making the decision to implement on-premise or cloud-based call recording, please considering the following factors:

1. Selective recording can be clunky

To reduce the cost and size of the on-premise deployment, many on-premise providers offer options for selective call recording. A great solution, right?

What organizations have discovered is that selective recording solutions are highly dependent on CTI events to trigger the capture process and are oriented towards the agent perspective of an interaction. Because much of the capture process is linked to agent activity, use of these solutions to capture non-agent interactions such as IVR sessions or direct PBX calls are often problematic and complex. Every agent that can potentially be recorded requires a dedicated license, even if no recording actually occurs. Decisions regarding who and what to record must be determined in advance based on observed trends and patterns, often resulting in reactive, clunky and ineffective capture programs.

By contrast, cloud providers often offer 100% call recording, eliminating the need to implement selective recording in order to save costs.

2. Analytics aren’t the same as call recording

Over the past few years, on-premise call recording providers have made substantial progress in their ability to extract actionable intelligence from unstructured call metadata (“big data”) through advanced analytics. Theoretically, this would shift the burden of quality assurance from strictly call recording to big data analysis.

While that data can be useful, keep in mind that your analytics will reflect your capture sample: selective recording delivers incomplete analytics. For a 360-degree view of your data, 100% call recording is essential. Otherwise, your capture method might cause you to miss the proverbial needle in the data haystack. For on-premise analytics to be accurate, selective recording cannot be used.

And remember that analytics do not replace call recording; in fact, they rely on 100% call recording in order to deliver an accurate picture of performance.

3. Consider hardware support costs

This issue is unique to on-premise providers. The addition of media forking capabilities to IP phones and session border controllers has moved much of the on-premise recording profit margin to the equipment manufacturers (e.g. Cisco Media Sense). While this evolution has commoditized the recording platform, it has also added integration layers and complexity to the overall solution. On-premise providers have also moved away from providing the hardware infrastructure required to support their solutions and passed that responsibility—and the cost!—onto their customers.

4. Know what your cost estimate includes

Cost estimate dollars money addAnd here is the on-premise recording industry’s dirty little secret: the expense associated with on-premise server hardware, SAN/NAS storage, Microsoft Windows and SQL licensing, VMWare and other platform components are not typically included in the vendor’s pricing. The actual total cost of ownership (TCO) for the full solution is often significantly higher than the costs associated with the provider software. And what’s more, on-premise recording providers often increase their “stickiness” by maintaining control of recorded media and metadata even though they are located on customer-provided hardware! To help avoid displacement by other vendors or analytics providers, vendors will often limit export processes and license the tools that enable clients to do so.

By contrast, cloud providers habitually fold their own hardware costs into the SaaS pricing, so clients will discover fewer surprises in terms of TCO calculations. And due to the need to appeal to a broader audience, recorded media and metadata are more likely to be in universal formats.

5. Cloud-based recording solutions offer transparent costs, efficiency and value

Cloud-based recording solutions circumvent most of the aforementioned challenges. With a cloud-based call recording solution, the capability and capacity to record every interaction is readily available. Gone are the days of selected recording, and gone is dependence on computer telephony integration (CTI). Additionally, export tools are more likely to be simple and accessible.

The Spoken Call Recorder, for example, was designed to record every call. Every interaction is recorded regardless of the terminating end point or connected agent. Agent, non-agent and IVR interactions are all captured with no additional configuration and without predefined target lists. The solution requires zero infrastructure investment, zero licensing requirements or costs and includes a fully redundant site to run an active-active configuration for full data backup and system redundancy.

Whether your call center is 50 agents or 5,000, the choice of interaction capture is important for quality assurance, historical reference and legal compliance. And, I might add, for your peace of mind.

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