Contact Center in the Cloud reduces total business expenditure

This was originally posted on ThoughtsOnCloud on October 9, 2012 

I was recently asked to investigate how we could reduce the cost of running a global telecoms business. I took a look at the study by the IBM Institute for Business Value, “The contact center of the future: Spanning the chasms“. Although it was written 10 years ago much of it is still valid today, however it occurred to me that further improvements could be made by bringing cloud into the picture.

In the example given in the study, the cost of running customer relations is higher than the cost of the running the network. Other studies show customer service to be more expensive than IT expenses.  So it’s clear that the contact center holds had the greatest potential for reducing the total cost of running the business. I’m sure that a similar potential exists in other industries too.

The study talks about consolidating multiple contact centers with an enterprise based architecture to allow the flexibility to easily integrate of divests parts of the contact center operation. It also discusses the technology improvements of network-based routing allowing a series of contact centers to interoperate and work in concert, universal queuing allowing enterprise-level business rules to manage customer service throughout the web of contact centers, and Voice over IP (VoIP) improving the performance of contact center agents because of the integration of voice and data technology solutions over an IP network.

Ten years on with the introduction of cloud, Bring Your Own Device, and home working, I wonder whether we’re ready to take this to the next level and disassociate the dependency on the physical location. Whether we could remove the physical contact center as we know it and take the web of contact centers to the extreme of each individuals working from home.  If we could reduce the cost of the technology used by each contact center agent so that it was almost negligible then we could offer access a much deeper talent pool by offering flexible home based working.

Opportunities could be given to the highly qualified women who are only able to work during school hours or after children can go to bed. Or to people who cannot travel to a contact center for personal or geographical reasons.

A friend of mine recently installed a virtual desktop client on a Raspberry Pi, a $25 credit card sized computer, and posted a video here of him using it to access a Windows 7 virtual desktop. For an additional $50 it is possible to buy bundles of the other components that are needed such as a keyboard, mouse and memory card. The computer could easily be attached to or integrated into the monitor or TV and provide a very low cost, easy to use and maintain contact center terminal for home workers.

IBM’s virtual desktop cloud software, IBM Virtual Desktop for Smart Business, provides virtual Windows or Linux desktops, running on a server that can be accessed from a variety of end user devices such as iPads, thin clients, old desktops, netbooks, and laptops. It combines VDI technology with stateless and personalized dynamic sessions, integrated offline VDI (for disconnected and mobile use) and remote branch support. Its open architecture provides flexibility and choice by supporting virtual Windows and Linux  desktops, and a variety of storage, directory, peripherals, and remote display protocols.

By combining these different technology advances I think we have a very exciting future ahead using cloud for business change, cost reduction, and work/life integration.

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