Making contact

Virtualisation and cloud delivery of automated services are two forces which are delivering entirely new ways to buy contact centre solutions. Wael El Kabbany, managing director for the Middle East and North Africa at BT, outlines the factors you need to consider before parting with your money.

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Making contact Wael El Kabbany.
By  Wael El Kabbany Published  December 13, 2010

As customer contact has evolved from a purely voice-based function into one that is increasingly automated, so too have the commercial realities for those making purchasing decisions.

Virtualised contact centres can seamlessly integrate traditional business processes, which tend to be centred on people at desks, and cloud services such as automated customer contact processes or remote agents using cloud-based workflow applications.

However, purchasing has not kept pace with technological innovation. Now, there is a new opportunity for customer service, marketing and IT decision-makers, along with procurement departments, to review how they measure the return on investment for customer contact services.

Most global organisations require a portfolio of customer contact solutions designed around specific tasks, campaigns or customer requirements. Purchasing decision-makers need to be aware of the variety of solutions on offer, including the ways these solutions can be priced. As elements of customer contact have migrated into the cloud, there has been a growing demand for pay-as-you-use customer contact services.

The most sophisticated organisations see this model as a way to drive better value from their contact centre partners, and to avoid major capital expenditure on systems implementations and upgrades. But there remains a gulf between those organisations able to measure and forecast the ROI on pay-as-you-go solutions and those whose knowledge extends only to services sold on a more traditional basis. In today’s market, there are two main factors to take into account when making a purchasing decision: purchasing period and licence type.

Purchasing period

Licence type: Named


Advantages: Traditional contact centre model, provides cost predictability, presuming
demand forecasting is accurate.

Disadvantages: Provides poor flexibility in response to changing demand. Has to be managed as a non-core process by the purchaser.


Advantages: More responsive to demand fluctuations. Lower up-front investment.

Disadvantages: You have to buy enough licences to meet peak demand – even if this is unpredictable and only occurs during one period in the year.


Not applicable: Platforms charged by the hour can track individual users, so lend themselves best to per-login and concurrent licence models.

Licence type: Per-login


Advantages: Provides theoretical cost efficiency advantages over named licence model.

Disadvantages: In most cases, over such a long period, this is virtually identical to the named user model.


Advantages: Greater flexibility than per-year pricing and better value than purchasing named – potentially unused – licences.

Disadvantages: Inefficient model for contact centres employing flexible workers, such as part time or job-sharing arrangements.


Advantages: Greatest value in terms of paying only for use, rather than ‘right to use’.

Disadvantages: With a system capable ofcharging by the hour, this model misses out on the cost efficiency of concurrent use.

Licence type: Concurrent


Advantages: Best value licence type. Especially suitable for organisations operating flexible working systems.

Disadvantages: In reality, peak concurrent user demand over a year will be similar to paying for peak named user demand.


Advantages: High level of flexibility means that contact centre resources are likely to be used at near maximum efficiency.

Disadvantages: Difficult to compare model with incumbent contact centre platforms.


Advantages: Risk passed mostly to technology partner, best value for purchasers with fluctuating demand.

Disadvantages: Accurate pricing requires a period of observation, in order to understand demand fluctuations.

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