Have cloud contact centres reached tipping point?

Jonty PearceThis is a guest post by Jonty Pearce, Editor of Call Centre Helper, the UK’s most popular Contact Centre Magazine.

A few years ago many people would not touch a hosted contact centre with a barge poll. But over the last few years it looks like the contact centre in the cloud it set to stay.

And when well respected industry analysts, Gartner, suggest that the cost of ownership could be lower, then it is time to take notice.  [Gartner Report – Cloud Providers of Contact Center Services in Europe Offer New Options for IT Leaders, Published: 8 November 2012, Analysts: Steve Blood, Drew Kraus]

So what has changed?

To start with the biggest sea-change has been in terminology.  The term ‘hosted’ has rather nasty connotations.  A host in biological terms is ‘an animal or plant on which or in which another organism lives.’  Clearly a better term was needed.

So the industry came up with the term ‘Software as a Service’ or SaaS.  This has also been referred to as ‘Contact Centre as a Service’ or CCaaS.  The problem is that the contact centre industry is already awash with jargon and did not need another made up name.

But more recently the term ‘Cloud Contact Centre’ has entered the language.  The origin of the term ‘cloud’ is obscure, but it appears to derive from the practice of using drawings of stylized clouds to denote networks in diagrams of computing and communications systems.   It has been used to define the internet at least as far back as 1994.

The nice thing about ‘cloud computing’ and ‘cloud contact centres’ is that they are simple concepts for people to understand.  And with big companies like Salesforce getting behind the concept with a large PR machine, that has helped to spread the message.

But the big problem with cloud contact centres has to deal with trust.

Some people trust cloud solutions and some don’t.

And in many ways the basis for this trust is quite irrational.  For some people, particularly the younger generation, they have grown up around cloud applications and feel quite at home with them.  For others, they like the reassurance of onsite equipment, that they can touch and feel.

But trust has been one of the big factors that has changed over time.

Around 5 years ago, I would have said that only around 10% of people trusted cloud based contact centres.  Now I would put the figure at closer to 50%.

One thing that is certain.  This figure is likely to increase in the future.