Migrating Your Premise Contact Center to the CloudOctober 30, 2018The movement from premise IT infrastructure to cloud-based IT infrastructure is well established and most companies have made a full or partial switch. Many companies are now using cloud-based applications, like Salesforce.com, and are further reducing their datacenter footprint by virtualizing on Infrastructure as a Service offerings from Amazon Web Service or Azure, or building on a Software as a Service approach. Some companies have even embraced new cloud-based development environments, like VSTS or GitHub. The migration from premise communication platforms to the cloud through companies like Twilio is one the last, but certainly not least important infrastructure items to shift to the cloud. The migration to cloud communication has been increasing as the call quality and security have improved dramatically. Significant benefits exist for companies willing to make the migration to cloud communication platforms, and there are several ways to approach it. Benefits of Migrating Your Contact Center Migrating from your premise contact center infrastructure to a cloud-based infrastructure comes down to agility, adaptability, and improved customer service. With CCaaS (Contact Center as a Service) platform you’re free to add capabilities as you need them. Need more agents? Add them within minutes. Customers using SMS? Enable SMS within minutes without upgrading premise hardware. Agents experiencing downtime? Shift their queues and what channels they handle in real time. With cloud communications you can react quickly to changes you need to make in your infrastructure. CCaaS also enables your business to be more adaptable, allowing you to add channels and capabilities to you contact center quickly and seamlessly. Unlike premise infrastructure, which is an all or nothing proposition, CCaaS is lets you adapt to the ever changing customer service landscape quickly. Adding IVR capabilities for example, takes weeks in a premise-centric world and minutes in a cloud-centric world. Lastly, CCaaS gives you the tools you need to dramatically improve customer service, like omni-channel, agent statistics, routing, and queuing. Offerings like Twilio Flex, Twilio’s new CCaaS offering, make migrating to the cloud easy for even the more entrenched premise contact centers. What is Twilio Flex Twilio Flex, Twilio’s latest offering, is a programmable contact center platform that gives businesses control over customer engagement with the speed and flexibility of the cloud. Twilio Flex is designed to scale to the largest enterprises, and supports voice, SMS, and Chat, with more features to come. Twilio Flex is made up of several layers, each exposing APIs and integration points which can be used to customize your contact center in countless ways. Flex comes with its own UI but also supports embedding their features within other user experiences, like AMC’s DaVinci. Twilio Flex is built upon Twilio’s underlying Voice, SMS, Chat APIs providing customers a robust, battle tested communication infrastructure used in millions of transactions daily. Planning your Migration In planning your migration from premise contact center to CCaaS, there are several considerations. Understanding your current call flows, agent experience, and premise configuration are all important when choosing your migration path. Even having knowledge of planned maintenance renewals or upgrade schedules will help you make cost effective choices and may impact the approach you ultimately take. Understanding Call Flows Documenting your call flows are critical to planning your migration. Some important points to consider: What channels (both inbound and outbound) does my contact center support? Is there an IVR in the environment, and if so, where and what scenarios does it currently support? Does it retrieve data from applications? Does it pass it collects to agents? Do I have multiple queues and agent groups? Do my agents handle singular channels or are they blended? Agent Experience How are your agents accessing channel controls? Are they using an embedded softphone within a CRM application or a separate softphone application? Is the softphone integrated with other applications or standalone? Premise Configuration An understanding of your premise configuration is helpful when determining the best migration approach. Does your PBX/ACD support SIP trunks? Do you have an IVR? What system are you using for reporting? Does your configuration include a CTI server or is your contact center connected directly to your ACD/PBX? Selecting an Approach Taking into consideration the data you gathered during the planning phase, you can now select an approach. Typically, a slower migration from premise to cloud increases user adoption and isn’t as disruptive to your agents or customers as they navigate the new environment. That being said, if your premise infrastructure is due for a major upgrade or your approaching the maximum capacity of your current system, you may want to plan a more rapid transition. Hopefully you’re able to plan a slower migration, and if so there are two recommended approaches: Adding a Cloud Channel to Premise Voice Limited Pilot Adding a Cloud Channel to Premise Voice Adding a new channel to an existing infrastructure is an easy way to start making the transition to CCaaS. For example, adding SMS to an existing voice-only platform, will help your agents adjust to a new channel, while maintaining their familiar way to handle voice. Limited Pilot Select a small group of agents, preferably one that operates independently from others in your contact center, and have them use the complete CCaaS stack, instead of the premise infrastructure. Using a small group of agents, minimizes the overall impact of the migration, while building a small group of change-agents who can speak positively about their new CCaaS experience. Challenges With both approaches there are challenges that may impact your transition plan. If you’re agents are used to an embedded agent experience, say using a toolbar embedded in a CRM application, you need to take that into consideration. Using a combination of products, like DaVinci with Twilio Flex, allows you to leverage your premise platform and add new cloud channels, while maintaining the embedded agent experience your agents are accustomed to. Ensuring your agents have a positive experience during the transition is critical to the long-term success of your CCaaS migration. If your premise PBX / ACD supports SIP trunking, you can connect your PBX to a platform like Twilio Flex through a SIP trunk configuration. Taking this approach allows your agents to continue using their existing applications and even physical phones, while providing the connectivity you need to initiate a limited pilot that’s communicating directly with the CCaaS platform. Making the Switch There are many things to consider when planning your migration from your premise contact center to a cloud-based contact center, but by far the benefits outweigh the challenges. If you want your contact center to be agile, adaptable, and relevant, it’s not a question of if you should migrate, it’s a question of when and how. For more information how AMC can help you move to the cloud, click here.Check out DaVinci, the industry’s first and only cloud-based Contact Center platform. Get the details here.Anthony UlianoAnthony X. Uliano, Founder / CTO of AMC Technology. I’m a CRM and contact center integration specialist, responsible for product development and strategy at AMC, a company I founded in 1995. I got my start as the architect for SAP’s Customer Interaction Center, which I sold to SAP back in 1997, launching my 23 year obsession with CRM and CTI integration. I split my time in Richmond VA and Bar Harbor Maine, where I live with my wife and 3 children. When I’m not running AMC, I’m an avid film buff and volunteer at several non-profits.