The following post is from guest contributor Sheila McGee-Smith, President & Principal Analyst, McGee-Smith Analytics. You can follow Sheila on Twitter @McGeeSmith.
It has been several years since cloud-based contact center applications started the meteoric growth that has more and more companies considering software-as-a-service solutions every day.Â The pros and cons have been debated in business and technology magazines and as well as in online venues: Â OPEX versus CAPEX, application agility, security issues, etc.Â For companies that are still weighing a move to the cloud, are there new factors that should be considered?Â For companies that have already made the shift, are their additional ways that deployments can optimized?
The move of contact center technology to the cloud has not occurred in a vacuum.Â The cloud phenomenon cuts across other application areas as well, such as CRM, IP telephony and unified communication, analytics, etc.
Those who have been around the contact center market for more than a few years will remember the pain in both time and expense required to integrate a contact center agent screen with something as simple as a customer database.Â Computer-telephony integration, or CTI, had such promise for delivering a better customer experience but was seldom implemented because of the complexity.
Intuitively it seems that it should be easier for cloud applications to âtalkâ to one another than getting multiple premises-based applications integrated.Â And it is!Â There are different ways this ease is evidenced in the market.
- Pre-built integrations:Â Check with your IT department â given the popularity of Salesforce.com and Oracleâs RightNow platforms, there is a high probability your company is already using a cloud-based CRM system.Â Then talk to your existing or prospective cloud contact center solution provider â there is likely a pre-built integration available.Â Five9, for example, has recently updated its integrations to both Salesforce and RightNow.
- Eco-system partnerships:Â With cloud-based solutions, itâs easier than ever for companies with complementary technologies to integrate their offerings to provide customized solutions to meet the needs of specific customers.Â Five9âs relationship with business analytics company Birst is a great example of this.Â For companies with a need for sophisticated analytics and dashboards, the cloud-based solutions of both companies can be easily combined.
- Cloud Application Programming Interfaces (APIs):Â Cloud-based data and applications donât always exist in a public cloud; many companies make data and applications available via private clouds, deployed in company owned and/or operated data centers.Â Cloud APIs, like Five9âs Reporting and Statistics Web Services, allow other enterprise applications to access Five9 contact center data while the Configuration Web Services API can be used to add new leads to lists, provision new Five9 users or manage campaigns within a 3rd-party application.
Providing an exceptional customer experience requires seamless integration of multiple data repositories and applications across the enterprise.Â No one application or data source can really promise to provide all the information required to completely track a customer journey through your business.Â But the goal of being able to access data and applications regardless of where they are located is a one that can be attained with increasing simplicity by relying on cloud-based solutions.