The Top 12 Reasons to Invest in the Cloud Today

Many authors, including myself, have written about the benefits of the cloud in its many forms, yet there have been very few detailed case studies on the hard benefits and savings we expect. Given the dearth of hard evidence, I felt many would benefit from the results of a recent private cloud study by Forrester.

Forrester Research performed one of its forward thinking Total Economic Impact™ (TEI) studies on the potential return on investment (ROI) enterprises might realize by leveraging a private/hybrid cloud model, versus a traditional CAPEX communications solution approach.

Forrester took a look at how cloud services for unified communications and contact centers are benefiting five companies. They interviewed companies that had outdated legacy communications environments that included different types of solutions.

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In several cases, the companies had solutions managed by disparate third parties providing inconsistent service experiences. Costs were increasing. All of the subject companies had a goal of reducing capital expenditures while transforming and evolving their communications environment. The five companies consisted of the following:

  • A global telecommunications company with operations in 20 countries
  • A U.S.-based medical and research organization that started with 1,500 users and grew to 4,000 users
  • A UK-based insurance company with a multivendor contact center and UC solution serving more than 10,000 users
  • A U.S.-based provider of electronic design automation and semiconductor solutions with a solution covering 6,500 endpoints in more than 50 offices across the globe.
  • A diversified technology company with operations in more than 150 countries, which requires dedicated on-site support for their multivendor UC and CC environment.

Based on interviews with executives at the five companies, Forrester used a composite representative company model to define the benefits they saw from a private cloud solution. Their results showed a total ROI of 42 percent in capital expenses for data center and telephony costs, improved contact center productivity, and simplified transformation to new communications technology.

How? According to Forrester’s research, there are 12 benefits that the composite organization saw from a private cloud deployment. Of the 12 benefits, five were quantifiable and generated an estimated 42 percent ROI (based on an average savings over five years) of $6,493,000, or about $12,987 per employee (500 employees).

The five key measurable benefits:

  • Handle customer interactions more efficiently by helping to ensure that the right resources are readily available to customers. Through an interwoven, interoperable unified contact center and workforce optimization solution, enterprise goals, contact center targets, and customer objectives can be aligned and linked together.
  • Intelligent routing and resource selection features allow systems to be configured to determine if customers should be served by the least-busy agent, the first-available agent, or the agent with skills that best match the customer’s needs.
  • Internet-based text chat sessions with contact center agents improved agent productivity, as do self-service online customer service.
  • Reduced capital expenditures for telephone devices per user/per month fees moved unified communications and contact center expenditures from initial CAPEX to longer-term operations expenses.
  • Infrastructure cost avoidance savings included server and data networking hardware, software, and maintenance; network monitoring tools; primary rate interface (PRI) and analog trunk lines; interactive voice response (IVR) software and maintenance, contact center databases and maintenance; and associated power and cooling. Also included were the IT manpower savings associated with no longer managing the legacy multivendor, multi-location infrastructure, and allowing IT staff to focus on more strategic business initiatives.

In addition, executives at the interviewed companies identified the following seven benefits to using private cloud that were not as easily measurable:

  • Using the cloud and a set of enterprise communications services that are based on and aligned with the industry-adopted tools of the internationally recognized Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) elements, customers can start with a baseline level of service management and then add extra elements as needed.
  • Increased utilization of legacy technology assets meant avoiding the need to purchase new assets.
  • Rising customer satisfaction scores were made possible by a number of factors, and were a strong driver for implementation.
  • Customer service representatives can work in the office or from home using the same agent desktop interface. With a home agent program, organizations can recruit the best agents from a larger external talent pool.
  • Acceleration of business transformation and increased agility.
  • Increased focus of resources on core business outcomes such as improving customers’ experience and employee productivity, rather than day-to-day operational tasks.
  • Establishment of a global standardized support structure.

What do you think? How has the cloud improved your businesses? What are your documented savings?

Follow me on Twitter at @pat_patterson_v

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Smarter Cloud Networking is Here, and it Starts with Avaya

The rise of digital transformation, along with growing application and data center needs, has placed more security demands on enterprise networks than ever. So much so that half of CEOs believe their industry is going to become “substantially or unrecognizably transformed by digital.”

These dynamic changes are significant for IT managers, as they are responsible for expertly managing today’s increasingly complex networks. IT resources are entrusted with one critical job: find a way to securely and reliably deploy wired and wireless networks with complete control and visibility—anytime, anywhere.

This of course isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially for companies that lack the necessary IT resources or budget. In fact, “budget and resource constraints” was listed as one of eight top challenges cited by IT professionals in a global survey last year. The average company spent $400,000 on networking equipment in 2014—a number that increased by nearly 20% in 2015.

Here’s the good news: cloud managed networking has emerged as an affordable and efficient network management alternative for many companies. There are a large number of advantages to leveraging a managed cloud solution. First, the technology is easier to operate than an on-premises platform, accelerating time to deployment. The technology also requires virtually no in-house maintenance, which frees up internal teams to handle other high-priority tasks while drastically lowering the risk of manual, error-prone, on-premises deployment work. Perhaps best of all, managed cloud solutions enable businesses to optimize their expenses and reduce costs.

For IT managers, cloud networking translates into reduced day-to-day maintenance tasks (i.e., software upgrades, patches) and improved operational agility—all at a fraction of the cost of traditional solutions. Businesses understand these benefits; in fact, it’s expected that by 2020, 90% of IT industry growth will be fueled by third-party managed technologies.

There’s only one problem: cloud solutions of the past will never effectively meet today’s next-generation networking needs. Businesses require a managed cloud solution that explicitly addresses today’s core IT issues of reliability and security; a solution that enables them to not just survive, but thrive in today’s smart, digital world. That’s exactly why Avaya is announcing its all-new Cloud Networking Platform Solution.

Our advanced solution for large enterprises and medium-sized businesses is inherently built to address security and reliability head on, with a strong underlying focus on simplicity and ease of use. Here’s how businesses will uniquely benefit:

  • Deploy wired and wireless networks with minimal resources:

    Users can seamlessly centralize network management, visibility and control without the complexity of controller appliances or overlay management software. That means hardware (like switches and access points) that are installed on premises can be easily configured and managed in the cloud.

  • Add, change or modify network services on the fly

    : The agile nature of our solution allows IT managers to easily add, change or modify their network services via an easy-to-use dashboard, enabling them to meet their business needs as they inevitably grow and change. For example, zero-touch activation enables managers to automate software upgrades, patches and licenses in order to relieve maintenance burdens. The solution also boasts built-in guest and BYOD on-boarding.

  • Guarantee data isolation among cloud tenants with true multi-tenancy:

    This key security component of our solution guarantees that user traffic will always remain on your firewall-protected LAN. This way, cloud connectivity is only required for out of band management functionality. Meanwhile, standards-based encryption prevents visibility of communications between a customer site and the cloud.

  • Guarantee service availability with data center redundancy and data replication:

    Avaya’s solution helps ensure wireless access points act autonomously, even when the cloud connection is lost. Furthermore, the technology enables high availability by always processing traffic locally and providing security directly at the network edge in each access point.

As companies face insurmountable pressure to reduce IT resources and budgets, it’s clear that the market needs a smarter networking solution. Our new Cloud Networking Platform Solution allows businesses to enjoy the native benefits of the cloud that they have come to know and love, with the critical level of networking reliability and security they has been lacking—until now.

Learn more at our webinar “Debunking the Myths of Cloud Management” on October 26 at 10 am PST. Sign up now.

Service while you wait – eGain innovates to turn hold to gold

My first exposure to self-service IVR application development was back in the early 1990s. Over the years, I’ve participated in the evolution from simple menu-based interfaces (“Press 1 for sales, 2 for service…”), to full-blown natural-language interactions driven by intelligent, automated back-end capabilities (“Open the pod bay doors, Hal…”).

It’s still not perfect, and I find myself having to opt out and wait for a human agent more often than I care to. In fact, a study by Marchex released earlier this year estimated that I and my fellow Americans will be on hold in 2016 for more than 900 million hours. That’s a lot of wasted time.

So what do I end up doing? Mostly checking Facebook, responding to emails, and playing solitaire on my phone. Seems like my smartphone isn’t being used very smartly, and it’s certainly not making me happy when I’m sitting on hold and waiting for an available agent.

Since the launch of the Avaya Breeze™ Platform, we have been advocating the value of the Breeze platform to solve problems. Give us a use case (problem) and with Breeze, an innovative, scalable, secure solution can be developed in days to weeks. On hold time appears to be a major use case in need of an innovative solution.

In January, Forrester reported that 73% of customers say that valuing their time is the most important thing that companies can do to provide them with good customer service. So why make them waste time on hold (even if they are keeping up with their Instagram and Pintrest feeds) instead of actually helping them during that transition time from self-service to agent-assisted?

This is why I think eGain Corporation, one of our 2016 DevConnect Innovation Award winners, is onto something really big.

By creating the eGain Knowledge Snap-in for Avaya Breeze, Avaya customers can improve the overall experience and satisfaction of their own customers by making relevant information quickly available in a self-directed manner. In other words, eGain has innovated on Avaya a solution to the on hold problem.

How? By recognizing that an IVR user is calling with a smartphone, the Breeze-based workflow will work with eGain’s cloud-based knowledge base whenever the caller is queued between an IVR interaction and a contact center agent, presenting relevant content to the caller’s smartphone via SMS, based on the context of the information already collected via the IVR interactions, and allowing the user to self-select additional materials that are more visual in nature (such as basic repair-and-troubleshooting instructions, documents, or even video clips).

As a result, users can more often find their own answers before the agent becomes available. At a minimum, the customer will likely be better informed when talking to the agent, creating the opportunity for a shorter call overall.

Smartphone users have lots of ways to keep themselves busy while on hold. And while there is a certain enjoyable aspect to completing another level in whatever newest game you’ve loaded, nothing beats actually being productive when you have an issue you’re trying to solve. eGain’s Knowledge Snap-in and Avaya Breeze don’t just let end users mine for virtual coins in their spare time, they actually help turn those on-hold moments to gold for everyone.

Avaya Named a Leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure

Avaya is honored to be recognized as a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure worldwide. Avaya has been the only vendor having the distinction of being named a Leader for 16 consecutive years. Each year the research organization creates a market view of key players for business users, reflecting business goals, needs, and priorities.

Contact centers have gone beyond phone calls with customers now expecting to communicate on their terms via text, IM, email, chat or video. For the past 16 years Avaya has created seamless and highly personalized experiences, building brand loyalty for companies all around the world.

According to Deloitte, 85% of organizations view customer experience provided through contact centers as a competitive differentiator. Todays companies must remain relevant by creating a single interface to connect customers with the correct resource each time, supporting their preferences. Supervisors and managers need real-time performance information to adapt immediately to situations to ensure optimized customer experience.

Avaya has focused its efforts on creating next-generation contact center solutions, creating communication strategies enabling a continuous transition between channels during customer interactions.

Please visit Gartner’s page to read the full report and see how Avaya’s Contact Center infrastructure continues to deliver best-of-breed Contact Center applications. We look forward to continuing innovation and leading business communications for the digital age.