By Robert Killory, CIO, 3CLogic
In an industry otherwise less known for its innovation, the call center industry is currently in the midst of a technological revolution driven largely by the introduction of cloud and the continued efforts of Amazon Web Services (AWS). Deeply rooted in proprietary and on-premise solutions, call center businesses previously differentiated themselves on the merits of their own internally built systems and IT teams. Expensive and complex, cost of entry was high but market share otherwise protected and reserved for those who could afford it (notably big businesses and enterprises) providing a competitive advantage against those who could not. Fast-forward to today, however, and the landscape has drastically reversed due to the inherent flexibility, reliability, affordability, and security cloud vendors (like AWS) provide – so much so, large enterprises are increasingly lagging rather than dictating terms to small rivals.
The benefits of AWS and Public Cloud
As an alternative to the expensive, and often punishing, licensing of enterprise-grade software, AWS allows startups and small businesses to offer commercial grade products using highly scalable and flexible software solutions without major initial investment. At one-tenth the expense of comparable software and with ‘pay only for what you use’ pricing, companies large and small can optimize the value of their solutions while enjoying the added flexibility cloud provides. As it relates specifically to the call center industry, the need to remain nimble in today’s evolving and multichannel environment favors those platforms which can quickly mirror changes in consumer behavior and communication preferences. Unlike premise-based solutions, cloud contact center solutions hosted on AWS provide the freedom to adaptor adapt to the latest technologies (CRM, WFM, WFO, SM, etc.) with ease to quickly meet customer expectations without heavy involvement internally.
With the recent release of AWS’ Aurora, cloud-based services are now equally, if not more, reliable than their on-premise counterparts. With automatic features of replication and backup, data redundancy is assured. In fact, Aurora has the ability to automatically replicate a database to six copies, spread across three Availability Zones, while allowing for configuration of additional replicates for any reporting feed, etc. – far better than most traditional systems and a key matter of interest for an industry whose success is contingent on keeping the channels of communication open. And while many still argue tried-and-true is better than new-and-fancy, a recent study by Aberdeen already supports the notion that cloud is more reliable with cloud call centers experiencing less downtime (2.4hrs vs. 3.7hrs per year) as compared to on-premise platforms. Why? It's simple -- AWS and cloud have simply reached a point where the current infrastructure, investment, and innovation have exceeded what has otherwise been driven by individual and competing enterprises.
“AWS and cloud have simply reached a point where the current infrastructure, investment, and innovation have exceeded what has otherwise been driven by individual and competing enterprises”
Security is a key concern for every company and yet AWS and cloud largely offer a level of security uniquely suited to meeting any business need. With Virtual Private Cloud and Amazon’s compliance guides, the ability to ensure a solution’s safeguards are as robust as the underlying infrastructure’s performance is easy and quick. In fact, recent advances in services by Amazon are removing many of the roadblocks CIOs previously faced when considering Public Cloud. As a result, when one juxtaposes performance, cost, and security, the argument quickly becomes a matter of why NOT migrate to the public cloud versus why STAY tethered to on-premise. In the case of call centers, especially those handling sensitive consumer data (financials, healthcare, etc.), what was perhaps the primary restraint against any form of migration to cloud is now gradually becoming an added reason for considering it. As long as due diligence is adhered to for security, scalability, and reliability, most cloud solutions will beat today’s corresponding premise alternatives every time.
The financial model of ‘pay for what you use’ is extremely attractive as you are only paying the minimum cost for the actual usage of the product, and not required to pay for expensive infrastructure. The intangible costs of maintenance and security are also mitigated as AWS’s Aurora is truly a service and not a hosted server running a product. Additionally, the storage space required is sold purely on a usage basis, removing the need to buy large volumes of space that will otherwise likely be left un-used. You pay for the Gigs of storage you require and the IOPS of computing activity you actually use – nothing else.
With the evolution of society requiring instant gratification, the ability to meet the performance expectations of end-customers is gradually driving call centers and enterprises to re-consider the benefits of traditional on-premise platforms in exchange for the added advantages AWS and cloud provide. And while perhaps still debatable as early last year, recent advancements, including AWS’s new Aurora, are quickly making the case for moving to cloud-based solutions sooner rather than later. In the case of call centers, the need to parallel and match rapidly changing adoption of different communication channels and consumer preferences justifies the need to consider cloud and AWS as a mode of competitive differentiation rather than simply a case of on-premise versus cloud.