Cloud Center News

For a Brighter Financial Outlook, Move to the Cloud

  By TMCnet Special Guest
Dave Paulding, Regional Sales Director, UK and Middle East, Interactive Intelligence

The top priority for any CFO has to be the financial security and viability of the business. They must work to ensure an organization has the tools to make or save money, while at the same time invest wisely into new solutions. Moving to the cloud is a case in point, as it can offer significant cost savings and potential for new revenue streams, but there may also be the fear of the unknown.

A survey for Interactive Intelligence suggests that many are putting this fear aside and leaping into the cloud. It shows that nearly three-quarters of businesses operating a contact center are looking to move to the cloud. So, with many of their competitors likely to be taking advantage of the benefits that the cloud can bring, what do CFOs need to consider if they wish to level the playing field?

Not All Expenditures Are Equal

When an organization moves to a solution provided in the cloud, such as communications as a service, the first difference CFOs will notice is that expenditure for these services moves from being mainly CapEx to being mostly OpEx. No longer will the business need to buy most of the hardware associated with communications over IP, such as servers, distribution boxes etc.; instead, the functions of these devices will be provided remotely.

The advantages of this are numerous, but probably the most important to a business today is flexibility. Using OpEx to purchase key functions requires less administration than CapEx, meaning decisions can be taken more quickly and services implemented more rapidly. This also provides business agility, allowing solutions to be increased or reduced overnight with little expense.

How much of the cloud solution is paid for through CapEx and OpEx depends on the type procured and how much of the IT infrastructure businesses want to transfer.

All-in or Hybrid?

Some might think that basing all their telephony systems in the cloud would save money, with services being accessed through a public network or a VoIP, meaning that there is no carrier relationship onsite. This would completely eliminate CapEx costs for their phone system, requiring only a monthly rental or per use payment.

While this appears to offer better long-term budgeting, it is worth noting that if the VoIP connection is lost then so is all access data or calls, which can be very costly indeed. This is particularly true for those businesses that rely on telephony for purchases or financial transactions, such as a retailer or a bank. Every minute that a customer can’t be contacted is time lost for selling. Research from CA Technologies estimates that the global amount of revenue lost to IT downtime is $26.5 billion annually, and among those departments most affected are sales and finance.

The safest option is to create a private cloud by purchasing and installing an infrastructure on the premises. However, this relies heavily on CapEx and can be very costly both in terms of installation and continuing maintenance, making it only suitable for the largest organizations.

The most cost-effective option is a hosted hybrid model that offers the best of both public and private cloud networks: infrastructure operated by the vendor is deployed on a company’s local network with voice and data kept on the premises ensuring continued access and security, while the logic and routing is in the public cloud and offers the public cloud price model.

When moving to a hybrid solution, CFOs need to be aware of who owns the onsite equipment and its cost. Some vendors might just rent out the equipment for a monthly tariff that could be supplementary to the service charge while others will offer the opportunity to buy the equipment for a lump sum or a payment plan spread out over a certain period. Again, it is worth checking how these are priced.

Only by being aware of the full picture, can CFOs effectively advise on and sign-off the most appropriate cloud solution for their enterprise. This ensures the procurement of innovative technology at an affordable price that will streamline the business.


Avaya Hybrid Cloud Solution for Contact Centers to be Powered by Spoken Communications

One of the more interesting developments of the past year has been while much of the headlines in the cloud contact center business has been focused on organizations of all sizes moving to the cloud, another big trend has been the positioning of all of the vendors in the community to make sure they give contact center customers options.  And, by options what is meant is to provide enhanced contact center functionality that is a function of where any given customer is in transforming their contact centers and what their unique circumstances are regarding such issues as what might need to remain on premise versus possibly moving everything to the cloud.

Indeed, the hybrid solution option has emerged as a popular one and that is a trend that is more than likely to grow into 2015 and beyond. An illustration of this was the announcement that Seattle, WA-based cloud infrastructure provider , which specializes in contact center virtualization solutions, signed an agreement with leading contact center solutions supplier to offer a hybrid cloud Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) solution.

Avaya Cloud Services powered by Spoken entails a multi-tenant cloud platform that enables companies to seamlessly transition to next-generation contact center capabilities. The cloud platform is designed specifically to support hybrid situations so that companies can use existing premises-based infrastructure while evolving to a full suite of native cloud-based contact center applications.

The announcement of the partnership highlighted that Avaya and Spoken will cross-sell the virtualized capabilities of the Avaya Cloud Services powered by Spoken. Customers will have three options for adoption which are as:

  • Discrete cloud applications
  • Pure cloud
  • A  hybrid cloud offering

The partners note that each application is available for integration à la carte, eliminating the need for any enterprise to discontinue its current applications such as call recording or Computer-Telephony Integration (CTI).  They add that the platform’s flexibility extends to call recording and screen capture applications, which customers can customize to partial percentage or 100 percent capture. In short, there is no need to as the saying goes, “throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

 “Clients are seeking ways to transition to the cloud while maintaining their legacy infrastructure and applications,” said Spoken CEOHoward Lee. “The fact that customers can integrate anything from a single application such as cloud call recording to the entire application stack gives customers the flexibility they’ve been asking for while offering a low-risk place to start.”

“Contact center customers will benefit from the security, scalability and pay-as-you-go pricing model of Spoken’s hybrid cloud service,” said Joe Manuele, Vice President of Global Service Providers, System Integrators and Cloud at Avaya. “We believe this cloud solution offers customers the level of data security and flexible scalability they need as they transition to cloud.”

The latter citation hits on an important point. Data security concerns about the hosting of sensitive customer data has been an obstacle for any type of cloud consideration by many contact center administrators. The ability to host sensitive customer data such as call or screen capture recordings locally on the client’s premises via a hybrid solution addresses these concern which is why such solutions are popular.  And, the other reason for the popularity is the benefits of the going to a services model.

It will be interesting to watch the industry analysts reports as to how much traction hybrid gets as a total of contact center solutions revenues this coming year.  It will also be interesting to see just how everyone fills in what may be missing pieces in their offering portfolios.

It should also be noted that if you wish to see and hear more about what is going on with Contact Center Solutions you can join the industry conversation at , being held January 28-30 at the convention center in beautiful and warm Miami Beach, FL.

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Cloud-based SIP PBX Highlights use of WebRTC for Contact Centers

For those who are visit the Cloud Contact Center Channel often you are likely getting used to the items that discuss how WebRTC and SIP are perfect together, particularly for use by contact centers as they work to become omnichannel-enabled.  ” It is a big trend that will continue to grow in 2015.

An example of this was the announcement this week from SIP software developer that they now support WebRTC on their new version (v3.4) of Brekeke PBX.  In short, WebRTC’s ability to transform multiple media and multimedia real-time interactions really is getting traction across the broad expanse of communications solutions. SIP is becoming a crucial part of the equation and contact centers are the low-hanging fruit.

Brekeke is a name many in the industry may not yet be familiar with. Founded in 2002 and headquartered in San Mateo, CA, the company has focused on helping make SIP happen.  For example, It’s the Brekeke PBX is a SIP-based, IP-PBX software that creates telephony systems for enterprises and service providers. It comes in three editions: Single-tenant, Multi-tenant (MT) and Contact Center Suite.

As the latest release website owners can not only provide communication capabilities for WebRTC clients but they can also connect them with existing SIP-enabled telephone networks. And, as so many having highlighted this means previous barriers to setting up and having high quality real-time video conferencing is not only made much easier but the reach of being able to do so has been dramatically extended thanks to being able to include anyone with a WebRTC enable browser.  

Another area where ease-of-use and extending reach has become a WebRTC attraction is for omnichannel contact center experiences.  This has been a hot target of opportunity for WebRTC as website owners can now receive customers’ calls directly from their website to their contact center without requiring any additional action from customers.

“I believe WebRTC is the biggest news in years for SIP communications. Just as SIP opened up more affordable and less brand-dependent communications, WebRTC will accelerate open communications among various platforms and devices,” said Shin Yamade, Brekeke’s CEO. “Our contact center providers and their customers are excited to add another communication method that they can use. Convenient access to contact centers will improve the effectiveness of customer service and, as a result, increase revenue and customer satisfaction for their businesses,” added Yamade.

WebRTC, SIP and Contact Centers really are starting to look perfect together.  In fact, there is little doubt that 2015 is going to demonstrate just how perfect.

Want to hear and see more about WebRTC, SIP and Contact Centers?  You can by attending , being held January 28-30 at the convention center in beautiful and warm Miami Beach, FL.  We hope to see you there.

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Netop Live Guide Chat Software Enhanced for the Holidays

For those running contact centers we all know the arrival of the holiday season means a virtual tsunami of traffic has and will be heading your way. What it also means is that there is an increase in the amount of internal contact center communications to better manage workflows to help manage the waves of customer interactions. And, while customers know that their interactions increasingly involve the use of chat for interacting with contact center agents instead of a phone call, chat is also an integral part of assuring internal operations running smoothly as well.

There is news on the chat front as interaction solution provider Netop has released a new version of , its popular live chat software used by customer service and technical support teams. The SaaS-delivered software combines text, audio and video chat in a single platform providing:

  • Routing
  • Reporting
  • Remote assistance tools
  • Co-browsing modules

The web-based chat solution which includes support for mobile devices has been enhanced to provide filters for operators in the administrator console, enabling companies with large customer service organizations to more efficiently manage teams of operators. Other enhancements include the ability for administrators to add and edit categories of calls in the chat history which Netop cites as a tool for providing improved reporting functionality and more accurate statistics.

“FedEx and UPS are forecasting record holiday shipments this year, and with that will come record numbers of customer service inquiries,” said Kurt Bager, CEO of Netop. “We’ve designed the new version of Live Guide to help companies meet the challenge of providing personal service that is efficient and effective, even at times of peak demand.”

Multiple media chat, including the growing need for video and collaboration tools are emerging as an integral part of contact center transformations to full omni-channel capabilities, and along with the real-time interaction functionality the information generated for compliance and getting a deeper understanding of customer requirements is critical as well.  Such capabilities as Netop points out are aimed at helping front line employee interactions to be more efficient and effective by improving site conversions, call resolution rates and customer satisfaction. And, like so many contact center tools chat is now available via the cloud.

For those interested in hearing and seeing more about contact center omni-channel developments , January 28-30, 2015 in Miami Beach, is a unique opportunity to see the latest capabilities in action and get your questions answered.  

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Interactive Intelligence Recognized as One of Best Places to Work in U.S.

The end of the year is the time when there typically is a lot of industry recognition announced.  In this regard, Contact Center Solutions Community host Interactive Intelligence is on quite a roll. Not only was the company recently by the Indiana Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals as its 2014 Philanthropy Award for Outstanding Corporation of the year,  but the Indianapolis provider of software and services for communications, collaboration and customer engagement, has received a as one of the Best Places to Work in the U.S.

In fact, this is the second consecutive year Interactive Intelligence has won the award. It achieved a ranking of #44 among 50 award recipients in the large company category. This is to say the least a nice feather in Interactive Intelligence’s cap as the Employees’ Choice Awards program, now in its seventh year, relies solely on the input of employees who elect to provide feedback about their jobs, work environments and companies via Glassdoor’s anonymous online survey.  In short it is validation from those really in the know about how much they appreciate their work environment.

For those not familiar with the Glassdoor company review survey it is rather comprehensive. Respondents are asked to rate their satisfaction with the company overall, and key workplace factors such as career opportunities, compensation, benefits, work/life balance, senior management, as well as culture and values. The final list is compiled based on Glassdoor’s proprietary algorithm, and takes into account quantity, quality and consistency of reviews.

Plus, employee participation in the survey is also indicative for their feelings about their employer. For employers to qualify for an Employees’ Choice Award in the large company category, they must have at least 1,000 or more employees and have received at least 50 company reviews from U.S.-based employees during the window of eligibility.

The statistics from the survey are impressive. Interactive Intelligence received a 4.3 rating out of a possible 5.0 score. In addition, 90 percent of employees indicated they would recommend Interactive Intelligence to a friend, and 98 percent approve of the company’s CEO.

“I want to thank every team member who took the time to evaluate our company on Glassdoor,” said Dr. Donald E. Brown, Interactive Intelligence founder and CEO. “The main way we make Interactive Intelligence a great place to work is to give our people a chance to make a difference. We set out to revolutionize business communications twenty years ago, and to help organizations around the world turn customer service into a competitive weapon. That’s a mission worthy of the sort of people who join Interactive Intelligence, and it’s what makes most of us happy to walk in the door every morning.”

“Millions of employees around the world are turning to Glassdoor each month to share their work experiences,” said Glassdoor co-founder and CEO Robert Hohman. “It’s this type of authentic feedback that helps others find jobs and companies they love, and enables us to honor employers who stand out for their efforts to provide an enjoyable work environment and culture.”

Here is a link to view the of the 2015 Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Award winners. Interactive Intelligence is clearly in some very impressive company.

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Zultys Mobile Communicator for iPhone has Contact Center and Voice Mail Enhancements

Sunnyvale, CA-based unified communications (UC) solutions provider Zultys has released . Available for immediate download on the Apple App store, if you are an Apple iPhone user you may wish to check this out. The reason is that in its latest release users of Zultys Mobile 4.0 will enable iPhone users to access contact center and Visual Voice Mail functionality from their mobile devices.  

“With so many employees constantly on the move, the option to access high level unified communication capability from a smart phone has become paramount when choosing a new office phone system,” said Steve Francis, chief sales and marketing officer at Zultys. “With the new Mobile Communicator 4.0, Zultys improves productivity and makes employees more accessible to contacts both inside and outside the organization regardless of where they are currently located.”

The good news for contact center administration and agents is freedom from their cubicles. Agents with the app will now be able to make or receive contact center calls from their personal devices. At a time when innovations in routing interactions to the right people at the right time are becoming key to increasing both productivity and the user experience, this is not an insignificant capability.  This is particularly true in having the ability to give remote and mobile agents the full functionality they have at their desktops.  

It is also of note that Zultys Mobile 4.0 also provides iPhone users with full access to their voice mailbox including visualization. In fact, the Visual Voice Mail feature is designed to make it easy to sort through and listen to incoming messages for both the user’s personal extension and for Contact Center extensions for agents.  Plus, incoming messages can be saved, deleted or forwarded on to another employee along with a personalized pre-amble message.

Mobile is not just about when working remotely when it comes to contact centers. It is about being available even when in the office but not at a desk and having the full capabilities to be found and be responsive.  It really is coming down to being about the app. 

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ComputerTalk Provides Contact Center Enhancement to Sprint Complete Collaboration Service

The desirability of giving organizations contact center functionality and UC capabilities everywhere, including accommodating the explosive growth of mobile devices by employees, partners and customers, has caused the cloud-based UC market to see intense interest both from customers and from vendors of all types seeking to enhance their functionality.  It is why the announcement that  service provider Sprint, through its unit, is teaming with contact center solutions provider to integrate robust contact center capabilities into with Microsoft Lync is of note.

An enhanced comprehensive offering

As Sprint says, the goal is to provide a one-stop shop for companies seeking to enhance their UC needs, and the partnership with ComputerTalk demonstrates what they mean about one-stop shop.

ComputerTalk offers a native contact center solution called ice. It is characterized as an all-in-one, software only, cloud-based contact center that has been built and integrated into the full Microsoft stack.  Features include:

  • Contact routing and distribution
  • Full Interactive Voice Response (IVR) designer
  • Call recording and historical reporting
  • Real-time monitoring and skills-based routing
  • Media-specific interactions
  • “UC Workflow” designer for building self-service and complex routing apps
  • Instant Messaging (IM), voice, email, Web chat and Twitter
  • Ability to route calls to any end point that Lync knows (e.g. mobile devices, landlines and common area Lync phones)
  • Ability to route IM to public IM clients

“Sprint is offering the first Microsoft universal communications suite with a native Lync contact center that offers enterprise grade capabilities,” said Mandle Cheung, chairman and CEO of ComputerTalk. “This will allow Sprint customers to quickly and effectively move to a cloud-first, mobile-first, enterprise solution for communication and collaboration while enhancing the business customer experience.”

Sprint is noting that its solution set includes enhanced mobility and SIP Trunking integrated for every user, and that this means the ability for customers to have an end-to-end UC platform with a consistent experience across all collaboration tools, operating systems and end points.

 “Arming employees who have a wide variety of communication needs and workstyles with the right technology will unify them, promote stronger collaboration, and help businesses grow faster,” said Mike Fitz, vice president for Enterprise Commercialization, Sprint. “Enhancing Sprint Complete Collaboration with contact center features enables businesses to provide a consistent UC solution for all employees while adding capabilities for certain work groups, like the unique tools needed to directly support customers. Businesses can rely on Sprint as a one-stop shop for this integrated solution that will easily scale and adapt to their business needs.”

With UC the foundation of communications as a service (CaaS) offering in general, and bringing contact center functionality across not just the organization but ultimately to its entire value chain, the pace of industry players to enhance functionality, particularly with integrations with existing services and enterprise customer experience systems like CRM and ERP is going to be a major industry trend in 2015. Sprint’s teaming with ComputerTalk is indicative of just how important this trend is going to be.

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New Canadian Data Center Highlights Cloud Contact Center Growth and Security

The trends are undeniable. Enterprises seeking to upgrade their customer experience capabilities are increasingly moving to cloud and hybrid solutions as features, cost-efficiencies and enhanced security drive the market. In addition, the North America continues to be a major growth opportunity both North and South of the U.S./Canada border.

Major Cloud Contact Center Performance Management Software Upgrade from TouchPoint

Greg Salvato, CEO of TouchPoint One in commenting upon the latest upgrades stated: “Adoption of Acuity has gained tremendous momentum in 2014 and customers are starting to realize the broader scope of how it can be leveraged to better align, equip and engage contact center employees and partners.”

Wheelings & Dealings: Qualfon Acquisition of Center Partners get nod as Small-Market Deal of Year for 2014

For those who are frequent visitors to the Contact Center Solutions Community, you know that we like to report on recognition that community members get. However, recognition can cover a lot of ground so not always does it involve a company receiving an award for providing great customer services.