Shifting collaboration to the cloud post-Covid
As the ‘Covid effect’ continues to accelerate the transition to the cloud, businesses need to put in place a deployment or migration strategy to ensure business as usual.
Anne-Meine Gramsma, chief commercial officer at ContactCenter4All, discusses the case for shifting to cloud-based collaborative solutions and why Teams is a strong candidate for supporting contact centre operations.
Spurred on by the Covid-induced shift to remote working, many companies are turning to cloud-based platforms such as Microsoft Teams for an easy to deploy, cost-effective solution. Cloud-based systems are becoming an inevitability – indeed, analyst research demonstrated a 16,3% decline in traditional infrastructure while public cloud spend surpassed $10-billion.
There are many reasons why cloud-based collaborative solutions are an ideal choice for businesses operating contact centres both remotely and on-premise, and why platforms such as Teams are an ideal solution – and not just because they can be rapidly deployed.
Microsoft Teams marches on and into the cloud
The popularity of Teams is rising as the platform matures and broadens in capabilities, driven by recent global events that have sparked major demand for greater collaboration between remote users. Teams is now a highly mature platform in its own right – and with Skype for Business service on course to be phased out, shifting from one Microsoft platform to another is a logical roadmap for many businesses.
Indeed, Teams has grown from 32 million daily users at the start of March to 75-million due to business continuity efforts and remote work strategies. Since the annual major update in November there’s been a further huge boost in Teams capability, improving the user experience and enhancing developer tools.
Teams represents a natural evolution beyond Skype for Business, offering a fast, fully cloud-based deployment and technical and functional improvements such as enhanced call quality and a superior user experience (UX).
Teams alone is not enough to future-proof contact centres – what you need to add
Typically, standalone, ‘off the shelf’ Unified Communications platforms require further integrated software to make them suitable for roles such as dedicated contact centre operations, consistently delivering the high level of customer experience that consumers today expect as a minimum standard.
Microsoft is continually expanding its Graph API, and as soon as this reaches completion, solution developers will be able to add further features to ensure agents and the end-customer enjoy a consistently high-quality contact centre experience. Contact centre solution vendors such as CC4ALL have worked to address business demands for extra functionalities such as call recording, queue monitoring, interactive voice response and reporting on top of Skype for Business and Teams.
At CC4ALL for example, the development pipeline includes key contact centre features such as omnichannel, skill-based routing, warm call transfers, call-back capability, queue recording, reporting and enhanced supervisory and operator capabilities. This enables supervisors to listen in and ‘whisper in’ to agent-customer interactions for assistance with particularly challenging queries.
Indeed, CC4ALL has already worked with multiple businesses in several industries worldwide to deploy Teams and the CC4Teams solution, achieving a fully native integrated contact centre solution for Teams.
No need to ‘rip and replace’ existing technology
For companies looking to transition from existing Skype for Business operations to Teams, a phased migration can make this a seamless experience and avoid the need for disinvestments from an existing deployment. Businesses still assessing their approach to migration would be strongly advised to consult with a trusted partner and discuss how to shift in this way.
At this initial stage businesses can identify workflows, assess department suitability for migration and develop a proof-of-concept for migration. It is important to identify systems and departments that can be shifted early on, then gradually broaden this migration, retaining the legacy system where necessary.
Cloud-based deployment ultimately makes the shift to Teams very fast – estimates range from between two days for SMEs to a month for the largest organisations.
Make the shift cost-neutral
The shift from Skype for Business to Teams should be swift and fully cost-neutral, so make sure yours is. The bottom line remains unaffected if migration is handled correctly with a fit-for-purpose partner.
Although other vendors may seek to double-license Skype for Business and Teams during this migratory period, CC4ALL offers the flexibility to migrate in a staggered manner. This ‘pay as you go’ model also enables businesses to scale up capacity during surge periods of high demand – making migration swift and cost effective.
Primed for cloud adoption
Whether businesses opt for Teams or an alternative platform, cloud-based solutions will be key for ensuring business continuity in the event of future disruption. Yet many regions are at varying levels of maturity in their cloud adoption journey.
Here in Europe, remote working is much more advanced than other regions, with many contact centres shifting to fully remote operations during the pandemic. These companies are currently playing the waiting game and assessing the options for migrating to a more advanced platform before pushing ahead – but are well-placed to begin exploring a phased migration of departments and operations.
Remote working is ultimately on course to remain the norm, with many large companies already starting to offer the choice for staff to return to the office or remain working from home indefinitely.
A second wave? Be prepared with large-scale remote working in the cloud
As many parts of the world brace for a second COVID wave, setting up contact centre facilities with remote working capabilities should be a top priority. Proven Unified Communications platform such as Teams will be central to the success of any remote contact centre strategy, offering an easy to deploy, cost-effective framework on which to build and develop a first-class contact centre experience.
By Anne-Meine Gramsma
IT Online, Oct 2020