The contact center industry in the Middle East is booming. Outsourcing to the regions call center agencies is on the rise driven by reduced telecom rates, increase in internet penetration and an increasing pool of educated, multi-lingual agents. For years, companies have debated the trade-offs between all-in-one communications solutions, where all the applications are available from a single vendor, vs best-of-breed or point solutions, where customers procure individual applications from various vendors integrating those applications within their environment. While recognizing that there are advantages to both approaches, recently the trend in the Middle East has shifted more towards the all-in-one model.
What is an all-in-one communications solution?
In a broader sense, ‘all-in-one’ refers to the range of applications required to support a specific business function. With the evolution of the contact center, this may imply the additional capabilities as well such as post-interactive satisfaction surveys, content management, and speech analytics. And while all-in-one solutions do offer a host of benefits, there are factors to consider while choosing such an approach.
Be wary of the all-in-one ‘imposters’
An important thing to keep in mind is the origin of all the components which go into the integrated solution. Just because the same sales person sells all the items, does not mean it is an all-in-one platform. It may so happen that along with parts developed by the vendor, there are also components designed by OEM manufacturers, and other suppliers added through corporate acquisition. A single company may offer solutions which include ACD, outbound predictive dialing, IP PBX, and IVR, but unless each of those applications was developed on the same underlying platform, the customer could still be strapped with multiple administrative interfaces, costly integration projects, and a lack of functionality.
Infrastructure consolidation- Building upon what you already own
A concern that is often raised when talking about migrating to an all-in-one solution relates to the utilization of the existing infrastructure. Customers who currently have multiple integrated systems in place are often apprehensive about a transition which would involve simply throwing everything out and starting from scratch. What is important to note however is that all-in-one, does not mean all-at-once!
A good all-in-one platform will still have certified integrations to third-party CRM systems, call recording systems, workforce management applications, and other PBX and IP PBX platforms. A customer can choose to keep those other products or slowly over time migrate away from them as they continue to deploy the added functionality from the all-in-one platform.
The benefits of all-in-one solutions
Due to a number of factors, it is more economical to own and operate all-in-one solutions rather than their multipoint counterparts. In addition to integration costs, which can be significant, there is a major all-in-one cost saving from reduced administrative overhead. Other factors that make all-in-one more cost effective include a reduction in the cost of managing the vendor relationships (fewer vendors), system maintenance costs, reduced power consumption, and upgrade costs.
Lower power consumption is also a significant benefit of all-in-one solutions. Power consumption is not only an expense concern for IT groups, but it is an environmental concern as well. What IT decision makers need to keep in mind is that all-in-one solutions do not guarantee low server counts. This depends on the architecture of the solution used which should certainly be a factor during the selection process. Using a software-architecture all-in-one solution can mean the difference of twenty or more servers in a server room vs. just two or three. The savings are real and can be a strong contributor to a company’s ‘green strategy’.
In the era of the cloud
As some portion of business communications, and more specifically the contact center, moves towards a hosted model, there is an even greater need for customers to get a single source for the applications they require. It could become a procurement nightmare for a company to look to multiple hosted providers for various applications, all with the hope that they could be integrated. The bottom line is that for hosted applications, the need for the customer to seek an all-in-one platform is even greater than it is with premise-based equipment.