Technical advantages in cloud-based contact centres

By Brian Atkinson, GM and VP EMEA at Five9
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The move from on-premises to cloud-based architecture certainly has clear business benefits such as hardware cost savings and faster responding times for customers, but the technical aspects deserve equal consideration to ensure businesses choose the right solution for organisational needs. Not only does it benefit businesses and their customers in the short run, but when looking at the technical aspects of the switch, it can aid growth and consistency in the long run. 

 

Cloud systems are rapidly disrupting the on-premises business model. Research and investment in solutions is essential to ensure they meet both the immediate needs of the business and innovate for future breadth of service for competitive longevity. 

 

The contact centre industry continues to evolve, and businesses should be ready to meet the fast-changing needs and expectations of their customers. To do this, organisations need to consider the technical capabilities that can run across different platforms to ensure continuity and security within them. But what exactly are these? 

 

The ultimate goal: Going beyond 99.9% uptime

 

In the early days of cloud, reliability concerns surged, and it was top of mind for companies looking to make the switch. It wasn’t that their existing on-premises systems had great uptime, but more so they had control over upgrades and fixing any issues that came up.

 

Today, the discussion regarding reliability for cloud vendors has coalesced around uptime being comparable or greater than that of on-premises software. The ultimate goal of 99.999% uptime equates to around five minutes of downtime over the course of a year. Many on-premises systems struggle to reliably maintain even 99.9% uptime, which equates to about eight hours of downtime over the course of a year. 

 

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 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 the 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. 

 

Redundancy is inevitable

 

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. 

 

Flexibility for the future

 

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 Docket 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 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. 

 

Ensuring 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 a 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. 

 

Moving from on-premises solutions to the cloud is no easy task and it is important companies do their research when doing so. When assessing vendors, it can be challenging to determine who can deliver product features, capabilities, professional services, and support at a reasonable cost. Organisations will need to investigate and validate vendors’ claims related to reliability, flexibility, and security. 

 

Business buyers will likely focus on whether a particular cloud solution will be a good fit for their business problem. That leaves IT and other tech-savvy decision-makers to help the company determine if a solution will provide the right capabilities in a secure and reliable manner for years to come.

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