Paul Stockford, Chief Analyst, Saddletree Research
3 minute read
By Paul Stockford, Chief Analyst, Saddletree Research
Posted in Customer Engagement
In August of 2019, I wrote a blog in this space that detailed the growth of the cloud in the North American contact center market. As I mentioned in that blog, Saddletree Research has been following the progress of the contact center cloud since 2012—not by asking vendors what they shipped but rather by asking buyers what they bought. This practice provides us with an entirely different perspective on the market.
We also explored the reasons contact center decision makers moved to the cloud, and why they didn’t. For complete details, please review the entire blog.
I ended the 2019 blog with the following paragraph:
The contact center industry has always been an industry of practicality, mostly out of necessity. That hasn't changed and likely will not change in the future. As the contact center industry continues its inevitable migration to the cloud, practicality will continue to be an important driving factor.
I had no idea how prophetic those words were when I wrote them.
Following the announcement of COVID-19 safety guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on March 12 of this year, which recommended that companies allow employees to work from home immediately in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the steady growth of the contact center cloud market effectively ended.
In its place emerged an unexpected explosion of interest and action.
Our 2020 survey of contact center professionals, which ended on January 31, 2020, provided us with a pre-pandemic look at the state of the North American contact center industry. We looked at the number of contact centers that had moved their call routing to the cloud, and the number of contact centers that had one or more of their core applications resident in the cloud.
As it has been since 2009, our survey was conducted in conjunction with the not-for-profit National Association of Call Centers (NACC). The results are illustrated in the figures below.
Source: Saddletree Research
Source: Saddletree Research
The data shows a continued trend toward cloud movement with about 41 percent of the industry now relying on the cloud for call routing. Beyond that, 48 percent of the market had one or more of their core applications, such as WFM, quality management, IVR, and so on, in the cloud.
It should be noted that many contact centers look toward core applications as their initial move into the cloud so the data should not necessarily be interpreted as overlapping results but rather as individual results. Some contact centers will have call routing in the cloud but no core applications, and vice versa.
Acting on the CDC guidelines that were announced on March 12th, contact centers in the cloud were able to quickly enable the migration of their in-house agents to a work-from-home (WFH) configuration. It was simply a matter of these agents taking a laptop, or using their home computers, to log into the contact center’s cloud from their home location and accessing their desktop and all supporting applications, with an appearance identical to their desktop in the contact center.
Besides supporting call routing to remote agents, the cloud also enables comprehensive management support of these WFH agents. Contact center management can quickly and efficiently view individual agent performance while providing agents with transparency into their personalized scorecards and meeting their training and career development expectations.
The rapid adoption of the contact center cloud in response to the COVID pandemic translates to cloud adoption becoming one of the fastest growing market segments over the next five years. We have revised our cloud market forecast accordingly and expect cloud implementation in the North American contact center industry to reach over 80 percent penetration by 2024, as illustrated in the figure below.
Despite the global tragedy of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has served a positive purpose in the contact center industry. It has provided the kick-start the industry needed to move forward past the archaic ideas and attitudes that have hampered much of the industry’s potential in the past. Due to the actions taken to meet the challenges of the pandemic, the industry is now making notable progress toward becoming the tech-savvy, efficient business operation that has been often professed but seldom practiced.
The cloud is the future of the contact center industry. There’s no going back.
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