ACDs – a complex landscape
The ACD landscape for enterprise customers has become increasingly complex in recent years.
It used to be that the ACD did one job; distributing calls in queues to agents. As the contact center industry evolved, so did the job of the ACD. All these things have had an impact:
- Multi-channel operation
- Multi-site operation, multi-tenancy
- Skills-based and/or BI-based routing
- SLA / schedule adherence
- Blending inbound and outbound media sessions
- Multi-session agents handling voice and digital concurrently.
Now this is just in terms of the core operation of the ACD. Contact centers today measure and monitor a great deal more than in the past.
The average ACD in use in the enterprise today is likely to be a bolted-together solution. It doesn’t matter whether this comes from a well-known ACD brand or is a ‘true’ cloud contact center solution.
With legacy offerings it is generally easier for manufacturers to integrate a new component into an existing design when adding support for one of the things above. Over time this leads to a clunky and over-complicated solution that requires specialist knowledge to administer and support.
If you work with a true cloud solution, you’ll have to build most of the above on top of the cloud provider’s core offer. This leads right back to the same problem of having to assemble your own ACD.
Delivering a rich and resilient cloud ACD
There is a different way to solve this problem, but it requires bold decisions to be made.
Building a functionally rich and resilient cloud ACD takes time and a long-term investment mindset, so taking a current ‘true’ cloud ACD offer and building what you need to run a sophisticated operation is out of scope for most enterprise contact centers.
To deliver the functional needs of the enterprise, most users are stuck with proven legacy solutions. Yes, you can deploy point solutions for different channels and somehow manage agents channel-hopping, but it isn’t holistic or futureproof.
Cloud provider stacks may provide the answer, but the ACD itself still needs to manage the contact center estate as a whole. As long as the cloud provider stack provides a conference model, where different parties to the conversation can be managed independently, this allows for a stateful ACD engine to track and manage resources properly. Conference models enable deterministic resource management regardless of the type of media for the underlying session. This enables load-balancing and blending to take place across the whole media landscape. It also has the added benefit of fast switching for voice (sub 100ms as opposed to seconds for SIP transfers). Making a stateful engine that deploys to cloud naturally, and that can multiplex and scale effectively, is the key to providing enterprise ACD solutions for cloud that can manage:
- the agent pool (both human and robot) to make the best job of meeting competing demands across many different channels.
- automation of service level management, which in a multichannel context becomes impossible for supervisors to manage manually
- automation of blending across the whole media landscape to ensure maximum utilisation of skilled agent resources.