Showing posts with label cloud computing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cloud computing. Show all posts

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Contact Center Cloud: 2015 and Beyond

workforce management in the cloud
At the dawn of the 21st century, many of us wondered where all of the technological breakthroughs promised to us in science fiction over the past 100 years would finally arrive.

While we still await for many of them, the new century did bring a new paradigm in IT delivery, that has been growing in popularity and acceptance ever since.

Cloud computing arrived not a moment too soon, as the demands on data centers had already grown to near capacity with no sign of slowing down. By 2015, over 2.5 billion people with more than 10 billion devices will access the Internet. And they will all be able to connect with a cloud infrastructure requiring one billion virtual servers.

The potential in this system for contact centers and other types of businesses was immediately apparent. Cloud computing represented a major sea change in the design, development and deployment of technology, through a pay-as-you-go business model that transformed the future of computing, even as it was already evolving through the emergence of mobile platforms.

As 2015 approaches, it seemed like a good time to analyze the current state of cloud-based contact center solutions, and where they are headed next year – and beyond.

Rave Reviews
The seventh edition of the Cloud-Based Contact Center Infrastructure Market Report, recently published by DMG Consulting, evaluated the performance of eight leading and contending cloud vendors. It found that the majority (61.5%) of satisfaction scores fell into the “highly satisfied” range for in all 12 major categories surveyed:

•    Product
•    Implementation
•    System availability/up-time
•    Professional services
•    Training
•    Ongoing service and support
•    System upgrades
•    Product innovation
•    Responsiveness to product enhancement requests
•    Communication
•    Product pricing
•    Overall satisfaction level

In addition, 31.2% of the average ratings were in the satisfied range (3.0 to 3.95); 5.2% were in the somewhat satisfied range; and 2.1% were completely satisfied.

These numbers suggest that end users are now comfortable and confident in leveraging a cloud solution in a contact center, and prefer this system to the traditional on-premise alternative.

Steady Growth
From a user base of just 269,000 in 2008, the cloud-based contact center infrastructure market has picked up momentum year after year. According to DMG Consulting, seats grew by 12.8% in 2013. While that rate is down from the 32.5% jump in 2012, the slower adoption rate is actually a positive indicator of market maturity, as vendors are more accurately tracking sales.

Escalating adoption rates point toward increasing awareness of the benefits of the cloud model, including increased flexibility in resource management, lower costs, easier access to upgrades, less burden on internal IT resources, and improved automation, scalability and operational efficiency.

Where We Are Now
DMG expects adoption of cloud-based contact center infrastructure solutions to continue, and predicts that the number of cloud-based seats will grow by 20% in 2014 and 2015, 18% in 2016 and 2017, and 16% in 2018.

This is significant because of the nature of the change that is taking place. The switch from an on-premise solution to a cloud solution at a contact center is not the equivalent of a company switching from one hardware provider to another. Instead, this is a fundamental shift in IT services delivery, which can seem daunting to businesses that have utilized the same systems for decades.

As DMG writes, “Never before have we witnessed an all-out rebirth of an entire industry due solely to a new delivery model.” Clearly, the promises of large gains in efficiency and flexibility have been big enough to overcome any misgivings.

These developments are happening both in public clouds (deployed by Internet companies, hosting service providers and others) and private or enterprise clouds (deployed by enterprises behind a firewall for an organization’s internal use). The latter may be growing more rapidly given the increased acceptance of the cloud model by enterprise IT, as limitations in server capacity and network bandwidth would no longer be an issue.
2015 and Beyond
While the growth of cloud computing has been impressive, it has not yet reached its full potential. Customers will continue to demand more from cloud computing infrastructures and solutions, and the industry is already making strides toward overcoming challenges.

One of these is the emergence of federated systems, in which communications, data and services can move more easily across cloud infrastructures. While contact centers can now move data between data centers, the industry should evolve to a point where data will securely scale into public and private clouds as needed, between service providers and to vendors, partners and clients.

Improving efficiency is always a worthy goal, especially when it is generated from current infrastructure and processes. But as providers ramp up power, capacity and operations investments, it is also important to continue to make cloud use as simple as possible for the end contact center user. As systems tend to become more complex as they grow, this will certainly be a challenge in the years to come.

Security is another vital area, especially in the movement of data outside of traditional physical boundaries. Privacy must be maintained, while maintaining the stability of applications as they are transferred into a cloud environment.

The continued evolution of cloud computing will also require open standards for solutions, hardware, software, integration and processes.

The cloud has already made profound changes in the way contact centers interact with their customers. This is particularly true at smaller and midsized centers that had previously been unable to afford world-class technology. Today, any contact center regardless of size, location, budget or IT expertise can leverage the cloud’s array of benefits, including flexibility, scalability, ease of use and cost-savings.

While the future of the cloud looks promising, evolving the infrastructure to realize its full potential will require cooperative development and specific focus by many providers and customers across the IT landscape. To learn more, please download our cloud software whitepaper.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Cloud Security in Contact Centers: The Questions to Ask, The Answers to Expect

The cloud is about to get a lot more crowded.

That is the conclusion reached by a new research report that projects the cloud-based contact center market to grow from $4.15 billion this year to $10.9 billion in 2019, at a compound annual growth rate of more than 20 percent.

There are a number of reasons why contact centers are moving away from environments where data is centrally accessed and stored, and into a distributed, virtualized system. These include lower upfront cost, scalability, ease of upgrade, speed of implementation, and many others covered in previous blog posts and articles.

Security, however, remains a point of contention with some companies. The Cloud Industry Forum surveyed 250 senior IT and business decision-makers on what they view as key challenges to cloud adoption. More than 60% identified security as a leading issue.

Is the Cloud Secure?
The short answer is yes. The cloud offers a much higher grade of security than most internal IT departments, and at a much lower cost. However, contact centers should also be aware of the differences between cloud providers, and the right security-related questions to ask.

What Constitutes Security?
Achieving an adequate level of security at a contact center requires the coordination of many systems and applications, as well as vigilance on the part of agents. There are five layers in all, each of which plays a vital role:

Physical Security
The data uploaded to a cloud resides in one or more data centers. These centers should be protected by multiple security perimeters, including electronic surveillance, qualified 24/7 security staff and multi-factor access to keep physical intruders away. The centers should also be equipped with state-of-the-art environmental systems that make certain that operations are not disrupted. To avoid any data compromise from a fire or natural disaster, data should be stored in multiple geographic regions.

Network Security
Network security is perhaps the most significant threat to contact center data. Network architecture must be protected from a wide array of outside threats. A firewall is usually the first line of defense, while anchoring additional security measures, such as web application firewalls and intrusion detection technologies. This firewall is a barrier between the public Internet and the cloud infrastructure, that controls traffic between trusted and untrusted networks.

An intrusion detection system provides an alert when someone is attempting to compromise systems or data, and responds quickly to minimize the possibility of a security compromise. Before such systems are triggered, regular vulnerability assessments identify any weaknesses in a cloud system that can be exploited by hackers.

The web application firewall blocks non-essential traffic to the application layer and protects poorly coded applications. It can block both SQL injection attempts and XML-RPC Exploit attacks.

Also, while many may be aware of load balancers as they relate to application availability, they have a security component as well, as they allow for termination of SSL traffic, provide centralized certificate management, central restriction of weak SSL ciphers and HTTP and HTTPS session persistence.

Finally, log management helps protect, detect and respond to security incidents by identifying unauthorized access attempts.

Systems and Application Security
The focus here is on how contact center platforms and applications are designed and built. Security should be a priority at each stage of the development cycle. Cloud software that was designed from the ground up has built-in security optimized for the cloud. Traditional on-premise software that is offered as a hosted solution might have some more security challenges, because the solution was not designed and optimized to be delivered over the web.

Frequent testing is required to confirm adherence to industry-standard security requirements. All code releases should undergo both automated and manual reviews, as well as in-depth penetration testing prior to release.

Information Security
Cloud providers verify their security controls through third-party certifications such as ISO 27001 or ISO 27002, standards recognized globally as the most comprehensive framework for establishing security best practices.

As many contact centers field orders from customers where credit card information will be provided, the cloud system should be compliant with the 12 security domains of PCI-DSS standards. The PCI DSS requires file encryption, secure storage and the deletion of certain information, such as the credit card security code. Contact centers affiliated with the healthcare industry should also be HIPAA compliant.

Agent Security
Of course, the client must accept some of the responsibility for security as well. This includes using complex passwords and limiting access to online data within your organization.

The flexibility and scalability of the cloud model makes it easier for contact centers to employ remote and home-based agents. These agents must be held to the same standard as those that work within the contact center, and that extends to security concerns. Agent-customer interactions should be monitored regularly.  Call recording should be used for security compliance, and providers should have visibility into data collected by these agents. Desktops used by remote agents must be secured in a way that ensures compliance and data encryption.

Asking the Right Questions
To make an informed decision, here are some of the most important questions to ask a potential cloud provider.
  • How long have you been providing a cloud-based contact center platform?
  • How many security perimeters are in place around your data centers?
  • Do your data centers have 24/7-staffed security?
  • What types of security measures have you taken to protect your network?
  • What security measures were taken throughout the development of your platform and applications?
  • Are you compliant with established third-party security standards?
The protection of information is vital to corporations in the digital age, and while no system is 100% secure, current technology is more than a match for any outside attempt at a data breach. Partnering with the right provider is the best way to achieve confidence in the transition to the cloud.

Several layers of security measures and processes are built into the cloud infrastructure, platform and services. All client access endpoints are secured, with alerts for password brute-force attacks that prevent those accounts from being compromised. Built-in firewalls provide additional protection, and many clouds also offer encrypted data storage.

As organizations become more experienced in cloud security options and best practices, cloud security will become less of a concern. Please contact us if you would like to learn more about cloud security in contact centers.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Questions to Ask Before Selecting a Contact Center Cloud Software Vendor

Contact centers across the country, of all sizes and types, have discovered the economic and technological benefits of converting from an on-premises software solution to a cloud system. If your business is considering a similar transition, here are 10 questions to ask prospective vendors, so you will be assured of receiving a true cloud solution.

Multi-tenant Architecture
Does the application use multi-tenant architecture? Follow the link if you would like to learn more. If the answer is ‘no,’ it’s not a true cloud.

With a cloud solution, all future upgrades should work, and be accessible without extra cost, regardless of how your system is configured and/or customized.In addition, upgrades should be automatically managed and provisioned by the vendor.

Does the vendor provide a managed integration platform? This is important, as such a platform is built from the ground up, and is easier to execute than a full manual integration.

Security and Compliance
Make sure the provider offers world-class security and data privacy, as well as full back-up and disaster recovery (SSAE-16 compliance)
Anything less than 99.5% uptime, with full transparency, is an indication that you may not be dealing with a true cloud solution.

Time and Cost of Implementation
If you recall how long it took to install and configure your on-premises software, the ETA on the cloud solution for installation and configuration to your specific business needs should be much faster, typically 30 to 60 days.

Ongoing Costs
None-cloud solution often have unexpected or hidden costs that emerge later. You should receive a firm quote on total cost of ownership (TCO), including implementation/installation fees, training, subscription, upgrades, maintenance and other components.

With a cloud solution, a contact center should achieve tangible business value much more quickly than with an on-premise or fake cloud solution. Ask for reference customers to better understand expected ROI.

If you have questions, please contact us and we are happy to explain the benefits and features of a true cloud solution.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Have you Joined the Call Center Cloud?

Whether you take a formal survey or just ask around, you’ll find that by now, almost every call center has either investigated the cloud, or has joined the converts.
workforce management cloud

It’s never been easier, since all of the software necessary to deliver outstanding customer service is now available as cloud solution. From PBX, IVR and ACD to call recording, from workforce management and performance management to CRM and speech analytics, if it’s on a call center manager’s ‘want’ list it is available via a cloud delivery system.

And if these solutions are based in a true cloud, as opposed to all the cloud pretenders that have popped up in recent years, they all share the same benefits:

•    No large upfront investment
•    Lower operating costs
•    Faster, easier deployment
•    Seamless integration with current systems
•    Ease of use
•    Automatic upgrades
•    Environmentally responsible energy usage

If all of this sounds good, but you haven’t yet investigated the many advantages of a cloud solution, it might be time to take one out for a test drive. One of the best things about the cloud is that there’s always room for one more.

And if you are already using cloud solutions in your contact center, why not bring together your best employees and think about an overall cloud strategy, and how to make the most of this service? Don’t be surprised if one of the most frequent responses involves expanding the company’s cloud commitment, so it’s handling even more of the call center’s functionality.

Either way, it’s time to discover what a cloud solution has to offer. Don’t get left behind! Contact us to learn more if you are considering the call center cloud.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Key Characteristics and Benefits of the Cloud for Call Centers

Learn about the Cloud for Call Centers
Cloud computing is one of the key drivers of today’s IT services market.

According to Juniper Research, the cloud computing market is on course to reach $90.7 billion by 2018, with both Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) showing tremendous growth. Cloud solutions are set to grow six times faster than all software (according to IDC), at a compound annual growth rate of 26% through 2014.

Even traditional hardware firms are jumping on the cloud bandwagon. Hewlett-Packard recently announced it will spend $1 billion over the next two years to develop and offer cloud-computing services. The company’s most prominent competitors, IBM and Cisco, have also accelerated their cloud initiatives.

Why is this happening? Companies of all sizes and types, including contact centers, have started to recognize the numerous financial and technological advantages of switching from on-premises hardware and software installation to a cloud delivery model:

Saving through Sharing

Instead of making a significant investment in hardware/software infrastructure and operations, call centers can opt to be part of a multi-tenant cloud system and share one larger, secure infrastructure. This also provides contact centers with the necessary scalability and redundancies at a much lower rate.

Getting Started Quickly
Traditional solutions take a great deal of time to install – how would a call center be impacted during this long transitional period? Cloud solutions can be implemented and deployed quickly, and often provide a more intuitive end-user experience, which shortens the learning curve for call center agents. With the cloud, downtime is reduced and ROI is achieved faster.

No Maintenance/Operations Concerns
How many contact centers have full-time employees devoted to maintaining the call center’s software? With the cloud, these tasks are handled more efficiently at the source by the cloud application vendor.

Pay As You Go
Cloud services and software are provided for a low monthly subscription fee, usually pay as you go, without an upfront investment required. Any upgrades or customizations are handled by the vendor at no additional cost – over the long haul, given how often software upgrades are unveiled, this results in a considerable savings.

When is a Cloud Not a Cloud?
Given the increasing popularity of cloud solutions, it is regrettable but not surprising that some companies would attempt to exploit the situation by offering a product under the cloud name that is anything but.

These “fake cloud” or “cloudwashing” applications often come with all of the drawbacks and costs of a fully hosted solution (and an inferior one at that). Unfortunately, too many companies do not find out they are stuck in an expensive and inefficient product until after payment was made.

Those considering a cloud vendor should explore options, ask questions, and become familiar with the attributes of a genuine cloud solution.

Two core elements of true cloud are multi-tenancy and self-service.

With multi-tenancy call centers share the costs, but this is not possible with fake clouds, in which each customer has to be managed separately. When that happens, the cost of the infrastructure is going to go up. If a vendor’s product does not provide continuous and instantaneous access to the latest product upgrades, it is not a true cloud solution.

A self-service capability is another essential element of cloud, allowing users to make all customizations independent of the vendor and without relying on additional IT resources. These customizations will continue to work with any new product enhancements introduced by the vendor. 

True cloud vendors design their solutions from the ground up. Software is coded to perform better as a fully hosted solution and build talent and expertise around hosting, maintaining, and managing the software across hundreds of servers and across multiple levels of data redundancy in a multi-tenant cloud environment.

Product upgrades are free and automatic in the cloud – with a non-cloud solution, customer upgrades are handled by the vendor one-by-one, which could delay implementation by months. That means when the work is done, a new upgrade may already be in development.

Asking the Right Questions
Before choosing a provider, ask these questions to be certain of receiving a genuine cloud solution:

•    Does this solution use a multi-tenant architecture?
•    Will all customizations and integrations work with any future upgrades?
•    Are upgrades automatic, and are they provided at no additional cost?
•    What type of security and data privacy do you provide?
•    What is your service level uptime?
•    What is the cost and speed of deployment?
•    Are there any hidden costs for maintenance, additional servers, upgrades, etc.?
•    How soon will I achieve ROI on my investment?

Cloud computing will continue to gain a larger percentage of the contact center industry because it offers benefits for businesses of every size and type.

Large call centers enjoy a tremendous cost savings and a lower upfront equipment investment. Smaller contact centers can achieve the same technological sophistication of bigger companies on a smaller budget. And call centers with agents working from home or in multiple centers can tie everyone in to the same workforce management system regardless of location.

However, with cloud computing growing so rapidly, many vendors are trying to position themselves as cloud providers by re-labeling and re-branding traditional on-premise software applications. This can lead to problems with upgrades, process integration and business viability.

Customers need to be able to recognize a true cloud solution as one that was designed from a web-based, multi-tenant, self-service perspective, and provides secure and easy access over the Internet, so contact center agents can work from anywhere at any time.

A few simple questions and some time spent on researching the background and reputation of the provider should quickly clear up any uncertainty about the type of product being offered, and whether it qualifies as genuine.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Call Center Choice: Cloud or Software?

Once an option only for early adopters, cloud-based services are now becoming more attractive to all kind of businesses as well. In fact, as storage and bandwidth costs continue to drop, smaller companies looking to reduce technology investment costs may be a significant factor in the continued expansion of the cloud market.

However, software-based technology is still more prominent in the call center industry. Will this continue to be the case in another 2-3 years? Let’s take a closer look at the differences between a cloud-based delivery model, and one that requires on-premises hardware and software installation.
workforce management in the cloud whitepaper
Download Whitepaper

With a cloud model, set up can be completed in days, with secure access available to agents and managers in the call center and at remote locations. With a traditional hardware/software system, complete installation and configuration can take several months, which will add additional costs and inconvenience to the conversion process.

Upfront and Operating Costs
Here the cloud model has a clear advantage, as users pay only a low monthly subscription fee with no upfront investment. Depending on the system, an on-premise solution could run $100,000 or more. Likewise, ongoing operating costs are higher given the need for back-ups, maintenance, upgrades and hardware replacement.

With a server, you can only expand your capabilities so much before another investment is required. The cloud platform allows for maximum scalability.

When it’s time to upgrade the software, it can be delivered automatically with a cloud model at no additional cost. When a manual software upgrade is necessary, the cost and effort can be prohibitive enough to be put off, which reduces a call center’s ability to operate at maximum efficiency.

Usability is a priority with most cloud-based solutions, so call center agents and managers can get started more quickly. Traditional solutions tend to be more complex. 

For these reasons and more, it seems likely that the popularity of cloud-based systems will continue to grow. Is it time you considered making the switch?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Workforce Management: A Customer Success Story

We’ve devoted many blogs to explaining why we think Monet’s WFM Live provides an outstanding workforce optimization software solution for call centers. In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at the experiences of one company who needed such a solution, and did their homework before making a purchase.

GECU is a credit union that has been serving customers in Texas since 1932. They provide a wide range of financial products, from loans to credit cards, through several channels, including a call center.

Making sure their members receive the best service is a significant concern. So when it came time to take a closer look at their contact center operations, and whether better member services could be delivered with fewer resources, GECU investigated software solutions from several workforce management vendors.

Ultimately, GECU selected Monet’s cloud-based WFM Live as the best available option. Affordability was a key component in the decision, as WFM Live provides such benefits as reduced IT investment, low implementation service fees and a more cost-effective per-user license model. GECU was also impressed by Monet’s technical support and post-implementation training services.

The product itself delivered the enhanced functionality that the credit union desired to achieve its goals. And with the easy to use interface, the company’s employees were able to boost their workforce optimization expertise even faster.

Implementation was completed within two months, an accelerated pace that would likely not have been possible with a non-cloud based solution.

What happened next? Check out our next blog to learn more about the dramatic changes at GECU since the implementation of WFM Live, or download the complete workforce management customer case study right now.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Top 5 Workforce Management Blog Posts of 2013

Over the past 12 months we’ve published dozens of blogs focusing on the importance of workforce management (WFM) and the difference it can make at a call center. We’ve selected the top five of these blogs, based on popularity and feedback. If you missed them the first time, here they are once again:

1. Workforce Management Visualized With Dashboards
Find out how dashboards provide valuable insight into forecasting, scheduling, adherence and metrics.

2. Five Tips for More Accurate Call Center Forecasting
Outstanding call center customer service begins with an accurate forecast. This blog describes five workforce management activities that will result in better forecasts.

3. Use Workforce Management to Engage Employees, not Control Them
How can you break through the “Big Brother” mindset to create a positive impression of WFM among call center agents? By including them in the scheduling process.

4. What is Cloud-Based Workforce Management Software?
If you haven’t converted to a cloud-based system yet, you’ve certainly heard of the inroads this technology has been making in call center systems. This blog details why such solutions have become popular, with benefits ranging from cost savings to increased flexibility.

5. What is Call Center Shrinkage, and How to Minimize It
When schedule adherence goes awry, shrinkage is often to blame. And when that happens, reduced service levels almost inevitably follow. Find out more about shrinkage and how to manage it at your call center.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Call Center Software Trends for 2014

call center software trends 2014It’s hard to predict the next big things in fashion or pop culture. But for call centers, there are three trends already underway that show every sign of continued growth in 2014 and beyond.

1. Cloud Computing
Cloud computing will continue to gain a larger percentage of the contact center industry because it offers benefits for businesses of every size and type. Large call centers enjoy a tremendous cost savings and a lower upfront equipment investment. Smaller contact centers can achieve the same technological sophistication of bigger companies on a smaller budget. And call centers with agents working from home or in multiple centers can tie everyone in to the same workforce management system regardless of location.
To learn more, get the whitepaper about Workforce Management in the Cloud.

2. Focus on Customer Experience
Obviously this is a priority that should already be in place and should never be disregarded. But call centers should also be looking for ways to improve the customer experience, and that search will inevitably take them to call recording and quality assurance. A call center quality assurance (QA) program begins with establishing goals, then creating a plan for achieving them. Call recording provides a wealth of data that makes the achievement of that plan much easier. To learn more, get the whitepaper about Call Recording Essentials.

3. Unified Workforce Optimization (WFO)
From tracking call history, adherence and performance, to call recording capabilities, WFO makes almost every aspect of the call center manager’s job more efficient. Integration and unification between solutions provides better business insights and allows a call center manager to make more informed decisions.
To learn more, watch a short YouTube video about Mary the supervisor to illustrate how integrated workforce optimization solutions can transform call centers.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

2014: The Year of Workforce Optimization in the Cloud?

So many magazines and websites are naming their Person of the Year and Event of the Year selections, and speculating about what 2014 will bring.

If recent history is any indication, 2014 will certainly be a year in which cloud computing continues to attract new converts. In fact, its transition from an optional alternative to a mainstream solution is nearly complete, given the number of enterprise software vendors (such as that are now focusing solely on a cloud delivery model.

Contact centers are no exception. More than 60% already have at least one cloud-based application, and according to Connectfirst more than 45% plan to make an initial or expanded move into the cloud within the next 18 months.

That same survey found that 55.8% of contact centers say that improving agent productivity is their top goal. Since customer service agents typically account for the largest percentage of contact center costs, it is vital to make sure agent resources are being properly leveraged to deliver consistent, reliable performance.

Workforce optimization software is one of the best ways to achieve this objective. It provides insight into customer interactions and service levels, delivering the data necessary to make important decisions about WFO and optimal management of personnel.

And since managers still have a budget to consider when it comes times to expand technological functionality, why wouldn’t they look at the cloud first? There is no more affordable way than workforce optimization in the cloud for a small, medium-sized or large call center.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Cloud Software Adoption Exceeds Expectations - Good News for Call Centers

If you are not in the cloud yet, you need to get moving.

That’s just one of the conclusions from a recent study that finds cloud computing is growing even faster than believed, and that those who have made the switch are enjoying the promised cost benefits, without the security concerns often cited by the technology’s detractors.

The study surveyed more than 500 organizations, including larger and smaller companies in the United States and Europe. An amazing 87% of respondents report the adoption of cloud services in the past three years. More than half said that cloud deployment was completed ahead of schedule, and 40% raved that the cloud has exceeded their expectations - see chart below. This positive result was surprising for many companies, since many have experienced in the past that IT projects almost always took longer than planned.

Source: The study was commissioned by CA Technologies and conducted jointly by Luth Research and Vanson Bourne. See link below for complete study

What about security? According to this survey, 98% said that the cloud met or exceeded their expectations in this area. That may be a surprise to those who remain hesitant about the technology for this reason.

In fact, there were indications that those in the cloud industry need to do a better job of addressing these worries, and in closing the gap between perceived and actual security risk. A Ponemon study, quoted in the survey article, reveals that some of these risks are a result of companies not adhering to recommended security practices.

Bottom line? If you have not considered cloud services yet, now would be a good time to do so. At this point the business and technology benefits are simply too substantial to ignore.

The full study is available here and you can also follow this link to learn more about cloud-based call center software.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Monet Software Receives 2013 Cloud Computing Excellence Award

Every year, Cloud Computing Magazine publishes a list of companies that, in their expert judgment, effectively leveraged cloud computing in an effort to bring new, differentiated offerings to market.
Cloud computing excellence award Monet Software

This year, Monet Software was selected to receive a 2013 Cloud Computing Excellence Award for Monet WFO Live. “I am pleased to recognize the companies that have exemplified innovation and excellence in the market by leveraging the latest technology trends to create an enriched user experience,” said Erik Linask, Group Editorial Director for TMC, the company that publishes Cloud Computing Magazine.

Monet WFO Live incorporates workforce management tools to improve scheduling and service levels, call recording capabilities for compliance, and quality assurance to help managers better evaluate the performance of their agents and the call center as a whole. From forecasting and exception planning to call tagging, reporting and analytics, Monet WFO Live is a one-stop source for call center efficiency, accessed through the cloud for better convenience and lower upfront cost.

For more information, please read the official press release and watch a video about Monet WFO Live in our resource center. 

To be recognized by one of the industry’s definitive sources for Cloud technology information is an honor we are proud to accept.

Friday, July 26, 2013

5 Contact Center Trends You Should Not Miss

Customer service and new technologies drive the success of a contact center. It’s important to be aware of new ideas and trends that may require adjustment from managers and agents. Keep in mind that these are not trends that emerge like fashion trends, which are popular for awhile and then fade into obscurity; these new developments governing customer service at contact centers require more permanent solutions.

1. Multi-Channel Customers
The days are long gone when a customer’s only means of communication with a company were a telephone call or placing a stamp on a letter. Emails, online chats, and messages on social media are all being used to ask questions about products, offer praise or criticism, or check on order statuses. Contact center agents must be aware of the varying best practices in each of these channels.

2. Customer Experience
Too often customer service is measured only by whether a product is purchased and kept, or returned. But companies should look at the entire customer experience as their product, which includes any communication with their contact center before and after the sale. 

3. The Cloud Computing Model
Cloud computing is provided as a subscription service, which can be a tremendous advantage for smaller or midsized call centers, as there is no need to invest in additional hardware and software. Other benefits for "call centers in the cloud" include flexibility (since call monitoring data is stored “in the cloud,” it can be accessed from the office, from home or a mobile device), easier implementation, and easier to use.

4. Social Media
As stated in #1, social media has become another means of communication between a company and its customers. But many posts are not specific questions that require an answer – Facebook and Twitter are places where a company can engage with customers at a more personal level, listen to their thoughts on a variety of topics and converse with them. What’s important here is to encourage your customer base to feel like a valued part of your community.

5. Real-Time Decisions
Quality assurance is impossible without reliable, real-time adherence and quality monitoring that incorporates alerts, dashboards and key performance indicators (KPI). Challenges are inevitable, but when they are quickly discovered they can be corrected before they can become an issue.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Workforce Management Software for the Masses

Workforce management (WFM) software used to be complicated and expensive. That meant only the biggest companies with the most sophisticated IT departments could afford to make a workforce management system investment, and employ the in-house expertise to make the most out of the technology.

Call centers that peruse WFM solutions today may find that the situation has not changed. There are still products out there that require a substantial upfront investment, and integration that necessitates extensive personnel training.

However, there is an alternative that places sophisticated and effective WFM capabilities within the reach (and the budget) of smaller and midsized call centers. Best of all, it is not a scaled-down solution with limited functionality – it offers all the same bells and whistles as expensive systems, at a fraction of the cost.

That solution is workforce management in the cloud. The software is delivered over the web, and since it is provided as a subscription service, there is no need to invest in additional hardware and software, or installation. Set up and and configuration of the system is simple and is done in weeks, not months or years.

The cloud-based workforce management model also offers some performance advantages over traditional call center WFM software, especially when more than one call center is involved. Since all data is stored “in the cloud,” it can be retrieved at any call center workstation, as well as on mobile devices away from the office. With more companies hiring telecommuting employees, or working out of their home part-time, that flexibility can be invaluable as the industry continues to evolve.

Finally, the playing field has been leveled between the largest and the smallest call centers. No matter where you are located or how many agents you have on staff, the many benefits derived from WFM are within your reach. To learn more about this topic, please take a look at our workforce management whitepaper that illustrates the difference between cloud-based and on-premise based software.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Workforce Management Moves To the Cloud

Workforce Management in the Cloud - Monet Software
The adoption of cloud-based software has been steadily increasing for several years, led by such companies as Workday and Salesforce, which already has more than 100,000 customers.

According to a CRN survey, SMB spending on cloud computing will reach $100 billion by 2014. Other companies from Gartner to Merrill Lynch report similar findings, though the numbers vary by a billion one way or another. What is clear is that the market for a cloud infrastructure for applications like workforce management (WFM) is already large and still growing quickly.

Why? There are a number of reasons, starting with cost savings. By handling WFM in the cloud a call center doesn’t have to budget for the purchase of hardware, software, database or data center infrastructure.

There are also advantages in ease of use, deployment and ROI. The WFM application can be accessed anywhere at any time via the Internet. A lower investment means a more rapid return on the investment made in the cloud application, and updates and upgrades can be delivered automatically as they become available. For more details, please read our Workforce Management in the Cloud whitepaper.

As with any other business, call centers are discouraged from having all of their system data housed in one physical location. But with cloud computing, there is never a question of redundancy if a server breaks down or become overloaded. There are environmental benefits as well, as information is stored in a climate that minimizes energy usage. And because servers can be shared in a virtual environment, the result is fewer servers and a reduction in the power required to operate and cool them.

Are there any drawbacks to moving your workforce management to the cloud? The one cited by some industry professionals is security. So when choosing a WFM solution, this is the area to focus your questions on – what are the company’s security standards, and what certifications has the application received? If the appropriate testing and network/application/data security is in place, your call center should enjoy the benefits of cloud-based workforce management software without any heightened risk of a breach. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

What is cloud-based workforce management software?

workforce management software in the cloudCloud computing is a web-based delivery model that enables users to connect with applications on-demand from any computer with Internet access. A cloud-based workforce management solution provides the highest ROI and savings of any WFM strategy due to its low upfront investment and low operating costs. Cloud-based WFM software puts call centers in unprecedented control, enabling dramatic cost savings and making scheduling far more efficient. Compared with traditional workforce management software, a cloud-based WFM solution allows companies to:
  • Reduce upfront costs: Eliminate the significant investment just to get started. From purchasing hardware, databases, and software licenses to the high costs of installation and IT staff to support the system, the traditional model simply doesn’t make sense. In stark contrast, cloud-based workforce scheduling software saves both time and money because there are no infrastructure costs.
  • Get started faster: Rather than having to ramp-up to a six- to twelve-month (or more) implementation, WFM solutions enable companies to start managing their workforce in the cloud within a matter of weeks. And, since the solution is web-based, integrating the software with existing systems reduces time and costs.
  • Connect anywhere:  The software is hosted by the workforce management firm so companies can access the software anywhere—whether on the other side of town or the other side of the world. All they need is a computer and a standard web browser.
  • Minimize ongoing costs: Cloud-based WFM software doesn’t just save money during the implementation phase. Companies save time and money in the long-term as well. The WFM firm supports all maintenance of the system, including free software upgrades and troubleshooting. Companies also benefit from the ability to quickly customize or add modules via a single, web-based interface.
  • Pay-as-you-go: One of the most attractive features of the solution is the pricing model. Companies only pay for the capacity and infrastructure that are actually used, typically based on number of users. This usage-based, pay-as-you-go subscription pricing approach not only saves businesses money,  Web-based workforce scheduling software also enables them to quickly scale to manage the demands of changing call center sizes.
Cloud-based WFM software lowers the initial infrastructure costs and ongoing maintenance costs of traditional WFM software. This on-the-fly WFM solution also gives call center managers the tools to schedule the right number of agents at the right skill level at the right time, increase overall schedule adherence, boost service levels, and improve both agent and customer satisfaction. To learn more about this topic, please download our What is cloud-based Workforce Management whitepaper.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What is unified workforce optimization for call centers?

Unified workforce optimization for call centers
In the last few weeks, we did several webinars about unified workforce optimization in the cloud. We talked about the need for a unified WFO solution and also demonstrated our new offering Monet WFO Live. We received tremendous interest and we would like to thank all who joined us. We are planning to do a few more webinars in January, please stay tuned. Here are some highlights from the webinar:
  • Most of the organizations have several different functions and technologies that they would ideally like to work together, so they can balance customer satisfaction and revenue, with the cost of customer service. Typically one group focuses on scheduling and deploying staff, and one focuses on recording and measuring performance. There are also people who analyze and investigate opportunities for change, closing skill gaps and establish goals to measure against.
  • As much as we may want these people to work together, today they are forced to make isolated decisions and often act independently because they have limited access to information outside of their area or function. They don’t have visibility into or it takes too long to get to key pieces of information, leaving them to make decisions too slowly and in silos.
  • We believe a large part of the problem is that they don’t have access to a unified integrated technology supporting these groups to help bring them together.  They need immediate access to information traditionally found in other areas and they need information automatically passed to them to eliminate slow, error-ridden manual processes.
  • With a unified WFO solution you get unique business integrations that can let your organization make faster, more informed decisions with a new level of visibility into workforce performance, customer service processes and customer intelligence across the enterprise.  You can quickly get to the right information to drive a new level of performance improvement.
  • Through these integrations users can drill to information traditionally found in other applications and information can be automatically passed between functions to eliminate manual processes.
  • In addition, you get a single workforce optimization framework that brings these functions together with features like a single graphical user interface and central administration. Having a single graphical user interface let’s people easily navigate in areas that they don’t spend a lot of time in. 
If you don't want to wait for the next webinar, you can read more about workforce optimization on our website or you can read an article about WFO in the Customer Interaction Magazine.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

What to look for when buying hosted or cloud-based workforce management software

In addition to the core questions regarding functionality and capabilities that address your unique business needs, there are a few additional questions that need to get evaluated especially for hosted and cloud-based solutions. Here are the questions to consider:

The difference between hosted and cloud-based workforce management software
In our last blog post we have clarified the difference between "hosted" and "cloud-based" workforce management software.It is important to understand the difference and the implication on costs, usage and overall risk.

All inclusive pricing (maintenance, support and upgrade)
When comparing offerings, it is key to evaluate costs and pricing for the overall software application life-cycle, such as, purchase, installation, set up, training, maintenance, support, and upgrade.
  • Are there any initial costs for set up, training, etc.?
  • How high are the monthly/yearly subscription fees for usage?
  • Are there any additional maintenance fees?
  • Are there any additional customer support fees
  • Are there any additional upgrade fees for new versions
  • Are there any other fee for additional storage, higher performance, etc.

Integration to other call center software systems
Just as the ACD/PBX systems should be integrated to workforce management software to achieve better forecasting and real-time schedule adherence, it is important to look at other integration points. For example, an integrated workforce optimization solution connects all aspects of scheduling, skills, call quality, metrics and compliance to better meet customer needs and deliver more effective customer service. You can easily identify patterns and analyze metrics at various levels for training and quality assurance purposes and establish quality standards and best practices. In addition, you can combine quantitative and qualitative information for a complete assessment of contact center performance. Only an integrated WFO suite allows you to “connect the dots” to get the whole picture that allows you to impact the bottom line. And today's cloud-based solution make it often more easy to integrate or even offer the integration "out of the box".

Monday, September 17, 2012

Hosted Workforce Management Software versus Cloud: What's the difference?

As many companies have discovered in recent years, the Cloud-based model of delivery has numerous advantages over the traditional hosted models of the past. Both offerings are often confused with each other but, not addressing the fundamental differences, have a huge impact on your call center business.

The traditional hosted model is simply hosting a client server or web application on a set of servers at the vendor’s site or computer center. The vendor then provides an application that was not originally designed to be delivered over the web, with a few changes, and delivers it to each customer via a single, dedicated server. It lacks a multi-tenant architecture and requires separate servers and installations for each customer. Much more costly and less scalable, it also requires support for multiple releases, which is very resource intensive. Typically, vendors who sell on-premise software may also offer a hosted model for on-demand options and sometimes call it "cloud-based".

The Cloud-based model uses a totally new multi-tenant architecture that was designed to efficiently and securely deliver web-based applications at the lowest possible cost. It focuses on fast set up, low operating costs through shared services, highest security for web-based deployment and high performance and scalability through instant and seamless scaling of computer resources (also called “elastic cloud computing”). This ensures available computing capacity when you need it and only when you need it, at the lowest possible cost.

Why should a customer care about the difference? Simply because cloud-based workforce management software offers many advantages:
  • Low cost and fast implementation
  • Multi-tenant architecture with “elastic cloud computing” platform for maximum scalability
  • Architected and optimized for web based security model
  • Automated upgrade procedures
  • New web based interface with focus on ease of use without training

Monday, August 27, 2012

7 Reasons for Call Center Forecasting and Scheduling in the Cloud

Almost everyday, you can read analyst reports and magazine articles about the adoption of cloud-based solution in all areas of business, including call center forecasting and scheduling. Here are 7 reasons why companies move to the cloud:
  1. Easier to use: Cloud-based solutions are designed to be easy to use for fast adoption, without a lot of training. Think ROI!
  2. Lower investment: Traditional software requires a substantial upfront investment for software licenses, hardware and additional software. The cloud model eliminates that.
  3. Faster implementation: Have you experienced long and painful software implementation projects? Cloud-based software has changed this. Instant account creation and easy configuration and self-service makes it possible to roll-out and use solutions in weeks.
  4. Less maintenance: The IT team in your company has to make sure that the software is working, servers are running, do back-ups, etc. Again, with cloud, this is all done by the solution provider.
  5. Always newest version: Do you use an older software version simply because it is too expensive or too painful to upgrade? Typically, cloud solutions automatically deploy new features and versions. Customer can easily take advantage of new functionality.
  6. Access from anywhere: Do you have call centers at multiple locations and a pool of flexible home agents? Providing a consistent infrastructure is a challenge. Cloud computing delivers “software” over the Internet - it's easier to deploy, more consistent and easier to use and support.
  7. More flexibility and scalability: As you grow your call center and as your needs change, it is often easier to add functionality, capacity and additional modules using the cloud model.  
Bottom line: Lower cost, lower risk and faster adoption are convincing more and more call centers to "go cloud". To learn more, please watch a demo of cloud-based call center scheduling.