Over the past five years, more and more businesses have been moving at least some elements of IT functionality to the cloud. Typically, it is the IT director who’s responsible for making the decision to use cloud-based solutions, as well as then implementing the change. So why are so many IT professionals choosing this approach, and what are the key challenges to be overcome? We spoke to Neil Titcomb, sales director at Genesys to get his view…
Recent research* suggests that in 60% of companies moving to the cloud, the IT director is the greatest influence in making the change. What benefits are they hoping to realise?
The obvious answer is that they are trying to save cost, but while that is a factor for some, I don’t think it’s true for everyone. Most IT professionals we speak to are more interested in the flexibility that cloud solutions offer. The price is structured around features and scale, which offers great agility and speed. With cloud functionality, it can take weeks rather than months to get new technology implemented – with fewer headaches because the administration and maintenance is done outside the business.
You would think there would be some anxiety from IT professionals about job security, given that cloud solutions remove at least some of the need for in-house IT support. But that’s not what we are finding. Most IT directors are excited at the prospect of how much more functionality cloud can offer, and what developments and improvements they will be able to make once they are freed from day-to-day maintenance issues.
What types of companies are looking at cloud solutions?
The mid-market is adopting at a more rapid rate than larger companies, and there are definitely some vertical markets that are more in tune to using cloud. For example, we’re seeing a rise in adoption in retail, travel and tech companies, but some elements of the financial sector seem to be a bit slower – typically because of regulatory constraints.
In the case of larger enterprise companies (and even mid-market organisations with legacy systems), we are seeing an exponential rise in interest around digital as a broad topic. They want to be able to give customers and staff a choice of communication channels, but it can be difficult to add these in to existing infrastructures. So lots of companies are using cloud as an inexpensive and easy-to-manage way of adding in digital channels.
It’s not about having the latest applications and software anymore, but rather about how the functionality impacts the customer experience
Genesys has always had a keen customer focus – we specialise in facilitating great customer experiences – and we are seeing more and more organisations becoming customer-centric. It’s not about having the latest applications and software anymore, but rather about how the functionality impacts the customer experience. Customer expectations and needs change on pretty much a daily basis, and cloud technology offers the agility to be able to keep up with that. As a result, we have seen a surge in the number of companies investigating cloud as a way of adding to the customer experience – and that is regardless of size or vertical.
What concerns do IT directors have about cloud-based technology?
Disaster recovery is at the top of the list. The most common question we get asked is around how we can make sure there is a resilient back up. Some of our clients are open 24/7, so the platform cannot go down – not even for scheduled maintenance. We have designed solutions to make sure that we can always offer back ups, regardless of the application.
We have a different set of challenges to a typical software company, in that our clients are typically outsourcing their telephony estate to us. This creates fear for those who haven’t looked at real-time hosting solutions before, because the impact of not having telephony even for an hour is huge for most companies.
For those who are really nervous about stepping completely into the cloud, we offer hybrid services, whereby they can retain the telephony suite, but we host the applications. Also, when most people think of the cloud they think of public cloud, where many different companies share a hosting provider. However, we also offer a private cloud, where the company hosts the platform in their own data centre – and they can control and manage it through their own estate.
There is definitely no one size to fit all, and cloud vendors have to be flexible and design solutions that fit around the brief, rather than selling static products that cannot easily evolve with market demand.
*Cloud as a journey: The reality of cloud solutions in UK contact centres, ContactBabel, October 2014