Partnering with only one CCaaS supplier in the Cloud Paradigm?
When I landed in the technology sector 25 years ago, I recall the light-speed innovation launch pace, the enthusiasm, the optimism and how every day seemed to be turning the page on one conventional notion or another.
It was a time when Silicon Valley was getting its legs, new technology daily – taking us from mainframes to PC’s, from the Central Office to the PBX, and debate was healthy over whether the mainstream networking standard would be Token Ring, ArcNet or Ethernet. Technology brands we thought were unshakable were getting swallowed up, outpaced, and becoming irrelevant in the wake. Compaq, Novell, Nortel, AST were some of the heavy hitters of the day. It really wasn’t that long ago, but some days it seems like a lifetime ago.
Twenty-five years later, it’s still a remarkable time to be working in technology. The sector hasn’t lost its excitement nor it’s deep-down spirit of innovation. We are surrounded by new inspiring leaders who are not afraid to dream big, take risks, and see their ideas come to life as new technologies. It’s been very rewarding professionally – being a small part of the process helping organizations capitalize on the outcomes new innovations offer. It’s also been a great learning experience to live through so much change. Somehow, the Cloud paradigm seems familiar.
As the Cloud paradigm matures, I realize what an amazing time we are living in, perhaps the most amazing time to re-think convention and explore the possibilities.
The Cloud paradigm has really come into its own lately, but not without its formative years of conventional skepticism, hesitancy, lessons learned, and the confidence that has continued to fuel investment. The force of it is daunting, unprecedented, but the upside is exponential, and the doubters have long since given up and moved on to all things Crypto. Many years from now, there’s no doubt the Cloud era will be remembered the same as most historical periods – a remarkable and monumental change from what came before it.
The Cloud paradigm is nothing short of incredible when you pause to think about just the last 5 years or so. The scope of what its collective technologies have spawned is everything from the rapid creation of entirely new companies, business models and industries, to the re-invention and transformation of almost every existing one. Without Cloud, many of the basic applications we have normalized into our daily routines wouldn’t be possible and in a very short time, they have become our essentials. The last surviving Blockbuster store closed only last year, but it’s easily 10 years since I was actually in one.
Today it’s unusual to come across a corporate IT strategy that doesn’t have the words “Cloud-First” somewhere in the first few paragraphs. It’s a very sound strategy yielding cost control, agility, lower-risk, faster time to market and allows companies to quickly capitalize on innovation to achieve further gains. Nobody is afraid to lead with it like they were not too long ago.
But even though we’ve announced our “Cloud-first” intention, this article questions whether companies are really positioning themselves for all benefits Cloud offers, or just a small slice of the potential.
When I think about the biggest benefits consumers and organizations realize from Cloud-based businesses and applications, I think about choice, freedom, speed, customization, and that I am the driver, not the passenger.
When I need a ride, it’s less about having Uber on my phone, and more about having Uber, Lyft, and DiDi on my phone. I can compare cost, the vehicle, my driver’s rating, how long until I get picked up and when I’ll arrive. I can easily make the exact consumer choice that best suits my use case. I don’t pay until the service has been consumed. In ride sharing, the benefits of the Cloud paradigm are NOT just that these new companies can exist, it’s that MANY of them can co-exist to give the consumer what they want, when they want, at the price they are willing to pay.
When I need a break and turn on the tv for a little entertainment, the Cloud paradigm is there too. It’s less about having access to a streaming or content services, and more about having access to any of Prime, Disney+, Netflix, etc at the same time. It’s not so much about a technology that has made mass content streaming possible, (in conjunction with living in a place with high-speed, high-quality bandwidth to deliver it of course), it is about the fact that I can select content from a massive palette, start and end it when I want, pause it, record it, rewind it, and so on. Way better than what came before it and I’m in control of the experience.
When I’m planning a getaway, here too the landscape is Cloud-based. Vrbo, AirBnB, Homestay, FlipKey, and many others in addition to all the traditional hotels and resorts. Massive choice as a consumer, the buyer in the driver’s seat on location, cost, duration, timing – all things that were major restrictions in the industry before Cloud.
Carvana sold 220,000 cars in 2020, one car every 2.2 minutes on average. They are growing at 74% year over year. They were founded in 2012.
You get the picture, Cloud has, and will continue to define new consumption patterns, spawn new models, transform industries – all of it to the benefit of the consumer.
But back to whether organizations are positioning themselves properly to take advantage of all the Cloud paradigm offers.
Based upon the above examples, would a consumer be getting maximum benefit from the Cloud Paradigm if they choose just one ride-sharing app, just one streaming service, only one travel app? Sure, they could claim to be “Cloud-first”, but I argue they are completely missing the point of it, missing out on realizing maximum benefit of increased choice, greater inventory, potential cost savings and efficiency, and most importantly – aligning a service to their exact use case, without compromise.
Having been part of this industry journey and working on the front-line with many of our largest corporate technology consumers, I see organizations with “Cloud-First” strategies, settling for diminished benefits unnecessarily.
In the Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) marketplace specifically, there are several strong offerings available. No surprise here, the marketplace has grown exponentially, there is massive upside for this sector as legacy infrastructure-based platforms age out and businesses look to transform inside their “Cloud-first” technology strategies.
However, like any of the Cloud-enabled industries outlined above, each of the leading technologies in CCaaS offers unique differences and benefits when compared with the others.
Some might offer compelling price points and strong performance for uncomplicated voice call routing, while another may have mastered a pre-built autonomous self-service workflow that is highly integrated with the back office and industry specific applications. CX is a whole universe, there is a lot of choice to contemplate and spoiler alert – not every company is the best at solutioning every potential use case in the vast Customer Experience landscape.
Unfortunately, a majority of our largest CX technology consumers aren’t going far enough to explore all the ideas the Cloud paradigm has to offer them. Most are choosing to stay with thinking which aligns closer to pre-Cloud.
This prevailing conventional mindset is preventing companies from accessing and contemplating all the benefits CCaaS and the Cloud paradigm offer. There is so much potential these organizations are missing out on, I’m often scratching my head as to why we get asked the same questions as Cloud providers that we did when infrastructure was the only option?
Think about it another way. The single CCaaS supplier is a supermarket. They offer produce, meats, a bakery, a florist, ready to eat counter, all the usual stuff. Nearby, there are many other supermarkets offering a similar goods and services. Your company decides that for the next 5 years and potentially longer, you only get to shop at one. If the quality of produce drops, you’re out of luck, if the prices rise. you absorb it, if the people change you deal with it, and if other supermarkets emerge with superior butchers, or baked goods, or locations, you aren’t even allowed to go and check them out.
Can we agree that not all supermarkets offer the same quality and value on everything they sell? Can we agree that some are better butchers, while others have fresher produce, yet others offer lower prices overall? As everyday consumers in our neighborhoods, I’m sure we have our favorites.
Think of CCaaS in the Cloud paradigm as the potential to consume the best of every supermarket at the same time, without compromise.
Let’s think about the typical aspirations or outcomes underlying almost every enterprise transformation discussion in recent memory. Then, let’s look at how these aspirations are always being expressed when seeking CCaaS solutions through RFP’s, RFI’s, and other invitations.
The most common outcomes being requested are not surprising. They include maximizing business agility, access to frequent ideation and innovation, continuous improvement, maximum ability to differentiate the experience from competition, and to do all this at a lower, predictable cost of ownership than what they are using today. Not surprisingly, all want higher levels of performance and the most stringent security features and service levels. Sound familiar?
Can a single-supplier’s offerings and partnership really deliver on all these outcomes without compromise better than if you were diversified and leveraging more than one partnership? Does Netflix always have what you want to watch every time you go there? Is Uber always the best option for that ride?
How many of you have been in a situation where the supplier did a fantastic job to win your confidence when you were dating, and once they landed your business, the shine wore off quickly? Now imagine how the Cloud paradigm offers a built-in defense against supplier complacency, which has nothing to do with threats and everything to do with real and available options.
For those whose investment in Customer Experience is major, where the customer journey is a strategic brand differentiator, it makes little sense in the Cloud Paradigm to seek only one solution and restrict your future.
To end up beholden to only one provider’s innovation timetable and R&D spend. To end up seeing Cloud-based innovation in the marketplace you can’t easily access. To have all your eggs in one basket when a particular service or its foundational Cloud provider suffer an outage and you don’t have a plan B. These are not Cloud outcomes. They are the opposite of what it should feel like after you have transformed to leverage CCaaS.
Think of where a painter could go when applying their creativity and skill using a palette of a hundred colors versus only a handful. Think of the golfer who doesn’t just carry fourteen clubs, but instead, has one specifically designed for every shot they’ll encounter that day – without it being any heavier to carry or more expensive to provision.
In many of these very large organizations there can be hundreds of people connected to the Contact Center and customer experience outcomes. A single-supplier confine is simply the same as asking every one of them to accept compromise. When an organization decides it will order one main course and the same sides for everyone, regardless of their individual appetite, taste, budget, timeframe, and allergies, very few are enjoying the meal. Some are powerful enough to go off on their own (shadow IT). Why not seek a meal option where everyone gets exactly what they want to eat, at their price, their portion size, and when they are hungry? That is the agility of the Cloud paradigm simply put.
I believe the biggest challenge is awareness – that poly-supplier CCaaS is a real, available, and a highly beneficial concept. It’s not a natural dialogue for the purveyors, we’re naturally shy to explore “better-together” strategies, largely because the economics may only work in small group of very large CX technology consumers organizations. It’s more natural to compete with your peers than to openly suggest we can co-exist to deliver greater customer value. It is a motion which could do with a refresh to align ourselves closer to the Cloud paradigm.
To me, it is a simple pivot. If you want Cloud, think Cloud.
Aspire to outcomes, aspire to transformation before contemplating the procurement aspect.
Explore the space and pick the things that are going to accelerate your unique business aspirations. It’s Cloud, beware of decisions which limit your future unnecessarily.
Define your use cases first, find the technologies which best bring them to life as opposed to landing a technology then trying to satisfy all the use cases. Choice is an available option; it is the DNA of Cloud. Compromise is not.
It is an amazing time, the CCaaS collective has so much to offer, and so many ways it can be consumed. Isn’t it time we allow ourselves to explore the space and all it has to offer? What you find here will surprise you.
This guest post provided by Simon Elkin, Strategic Enterprise Account Executive at Talkdesk Canada
Follow Taylor Reach and Colin Taylor on Twitter at @Taylor_Reach and @colinsataylor.
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