From on-premise through hosted to cloud-based
Transformation is important for every business. Some companies develop by following new trends, others see the potential in less-known territories. But how did VCC Live arrive at where we are today?
Contact centre technology has come a long way since the introduction of the first call centres in the 1960s and 1970s. From rows of telephones on operators’ desks, through modernised hosted and on-premise contact centre solutions in the 1990s and 2000s, we are now in the age of the cloud. Today, the variety of services clients can choose from is vast, with the main choice being between conventional on-premise physical data centre options and more flexible cloud-based virtual solutions. But how do service providers decide which service to offer their clients? Here is our story.
Saying goodbye to on-premise
When we first established our company, we invested our energy and knowledge in creating a state-of-the-art on-premise service for our customers. We focused on combining cutting edge hardware and technology so that our customers could benefit from a modern, ground-breaking, solution that met their needs. As with every company building something innovative, we were excited by the business opportunities we discovered, and by seeing our solution being utilised by our clients. But, happy as we were, we also could see our clients concerns as they struggled with costs, investment plans, and the impact our solution could have on their budget. And in particular, the look of dismay once they realise that, within an average of 7 years, their modern, state-of-the-art solution would fade and become state-of-the-outdated.
With a variety of our clients struggling with high costs, we realised our service portfolio needed a drastic rethink. We could see that clients “fell hostage” and were burdened with piles of hardware that were becoming obsolete before they could afford a new solution. Investments in hardware were also stopping them from developing and improving their business plans. Small and medium-sized businesses were not being able to afford our kind of solution, and bigger businesses often did not wish to invest in solutions which would become outdated only a few years later. Seeing how our clients were finding it hard to keep up with the constant costs on-premise solutions were bringing, it became clear to us that we needed to provide them with another option. In other words: our clients’ financial struggles were the motivation for us to set out on a new journey.
Arriving at a hosted solution
The destination of this new journey was our hosted solution. A hosted solution initially requires the use of hardware and servers just as any on-premise solution does, but the main difference is that the hardware is bought and managed by the hosting provider. This means that handling and operational responsibilities such as internet connections, leased lines, power supplies, security, and maintenance are all provided by the host, removing some of the costs from the client’s shoulders. And in 2008 this was just what we wanted to do – meet our clients’ needs at a lower price.
When first developing our hosting service, we decided to take things further and choose an innovative way of doing business. With extensive experience in telecommunications, we decided to start a new budget-friendly billing model based on a per-minute model, allowing clients to control their costs more effectively. Billing started once an agent logged into the system and stopped once the agent logged out, allowing clients to plan the number of agents and the time they spent working, thus controlling billable time and costs. Small and medium-sized businesses quickly embraced this idea of a usage-based hosted solution, as it allowed them to meet their business needs and operate a high-quality contact centre without expensive hardware investment. After introducing and developing this solution successfully, and with the concept of the ‘cloud’ gaining momentum and popularity in the business world, we realised this method of billing was the basis of a stable and client-friendly business model. Ironically, it was small and medium-sized businesses’ inability to pay that helped us decide to create our fully cloud-based solution for call and contact centres.
Building business in the cloud
The huge demand for expert cloud solutions came from small and medium businesses, not because they expected it to become the solution of the future, but mainly because they simply lacked the financial funds needed for expensive on-premise services. With a cloud-based solution, the client does not need to maintain, lease, or rent any hardware – all hardware requirements and investments are handled by the service provider. After entrusting their contact centres to the cloud, organisations can develop their business more effectively, with a lot less effort and costs; the amounts of money previously spent on on-premise solutions can be turned into new business advancements. And once smaller companies began to experience these benefits, larger organisations started to also become interested in cloud solutions.
Today, if anyone asks us about on-premise solutions today, we simply say ‘forget it’. And if you want to know the reason why, we can give you six of them:
- technical – a cloud solution is built on function, and not a client, level. This means that, technically speaking, all clients use the same platform.
- operational – using the same platform makes it possible to manage all client systems together as one, and not separately. This means that every system update is immediately available to all clients.
- development – client requests and requirements can be incorporated into the solution where possible, and released as part of updates available to everyone using the platform. Personalised developments for closed groups of users are also available, of course, but not common.
- business (capex vs. opex) – forget about big investments and budget planning! Cloud solutions allow flexible business models, with no need to plan resources in advance as they can be decided on the fly, and changed according to your needs as required.
- cycle of life – the highly-available servers are the responsibility of the service provider, which means clients do not need to deal with the hardware’s cycle of life and its change. As for new software releases and updates they can be automatically released and available to all clients, preventing cloud-based solutions becoming outdated. Ever.
- security – behind a cloud solution, there is usually one overall security team with an extensive amount of experience in the industry. This team can provide sufficient protection for all clients, as it only needs to meet the security standards of its own cloud solution used by those clients.
When clients face difficulties paying for services, this is of course a reason for concern. Sometimes, however, it can provide the reason for a company to become creative and set out on a new business journey. Eventually, clients’ financial struggles may turn into a new service or product that benefits both them and you.