Is Your Head in the Clouds

Cost Model – Once you have done your homework on the other criteria, you need to make sure that the cost model accommodates your business requirements.How is the licensing done?Which features are included in each type of license?Can you increase/decrease use based on seasonal requirements without penalty?How are licenses managed, and by whom?Going to the cloud does not mean that the solution decision is easy. While the solution provider might be handling the technological aspects of the solution, you will not be totally relieved of responsibility. You must still manage the contract, ensure the provider meets your requirements, monitor performance, and track costs and license utilization. The same level of scrutiny that is afforded to on-premises solutions must be applied to the cloud as well. Criteria for Selecting a Cloud Solution ProviderHaving just completed three separate cloud engagements, involving three separate solution providers, it’s clearer to me than ever that choosing the right cloud provider partner is critically important. During these engagements, we identified nine specific criteria that should be evaluated when making the choice. You should ask the questions posed in this section before making a final decision. Customization – Public cloud providers must address this consideration. Their platforms are built for general use. How much the platform can be customized for your particular environment is a consideration if you have some specific unique requirements. In addition, when new features and functions are released, they are generally released to all subscribers.Can you turn off certain features that may create a problem in your environment?Can the vendor provide a test bed or lab environment to evaluate and “stress test” new features before allowing them into your production environment? See All in Deployment Models » Is Your Head in the Clouds? – Part 2 Diane Halliwell June 05, 2019 Second in a two-part series exploring a move to a cloud contact center, with a focus on implementation best practices Over the course of the next two articles, I’d like to explore the cloud decision and migration journey. Today’s post provides some summary background information on the decision-making criteria for moving to the cloud, specifically addressing whether a move to the cloud is the right direction for your organization. I’ll also provide some insight into how to select the right cloud solution provider, should you decide cloud is the proper model for your organization. Part two will continue with addressing the pitfalls to avoid and best practices to adopt as your enterprise migrates to your selected cloud solution. If you do make the decision to utilize a cloud contact center architecture, you should carefully evaluate many factors when choosing the right solution partner. Is Hosted UC Really the Way to Go? Stephen Leaden February 21, 2019 It’s time to get beyond the hype of cloud communications services and get under the covers on guarantees for delivery and performance. Architecture and Resiliency – If you have decided to move to the cloud and are evaluating potential solution providers, you need to carefully consider the provider’s record on uptime, and how its architecture enables this level of uptime.What assurances can it give you about resiliency?What is it willing to put into a contract?Does the provider offer different environments/instances (e.g., training, development, production), so that you can test an application or feature before putting it directly into production?It doesn’t matter how feature-rich the solution is if it’s not accessible. Features and Functions – You need to have a clear understanding of how your contact center is using features and functions today. A gap analysis should be performed to ensure that the prospective providers can accommodate critical features, existing custom reports, etc. In addition, you need to think about what additional feature capabilities you are going to introduce in the near-term to ensure that the solution providers can accommodate those functions as well — or at least have them on the roadmap. Vendors’ sales teams often will not want to dwell on weaknesses of their product for your environment, so it is very important for customers to drive this conversation and uncover potential gaps. UCaaS Takes Backseat to IP PBX as Future Enterprise Platform John Malone June 05, 2019 A new study from Eastern Management Group finds enterprises will use more server virtualization and hybrid cloud than UCaaS through 2024. Paulding also cites several factors that should be considered when determining if cloud makes sense in your business model, including reliability, accessibility, and security. With regard to reliability and accessibility, Paulding indicates that “an important aspect to consider is that agents need full-time and real-time access to customer data and if, for example, all of the IT infrastructure has been moved to the Cloud, including telephony, and the VoIP connection is lost, so too is contact with customers.” If you think about technology over the past several years, when have you known a “one size fits all” solution? Cloud may very well be the “way to go” for your organization, but you should be entering this decision with concrete evidence that you are heading in the right direction. Implementation Methodology – Cloud providers are notorious for performing many of the standard implementation activities on a remote basis. Depending on the complexity of your environment, this may not be an appropriate methodology.How does the provider design the solution?Who fills out the design documentation?Is there onsite support for design, cutover, training, etc.?Is it willing to customize the implementation based on your requirements?Resources – It’s important to understand the solution providers’ depth of resources. Are they “heavy” on sales and “feet on the street,” but shallow on engineers, application developers, implementation staff, and support staff? Find out. Data Security and Integrity – You need to understand how secure your data is, particularly in the public cloud arena.How does the provider segregate your information from other customers?Is it willing to guarantee the segregation?What is it willing to put into a contract?If you need to change solution providers, how do you migrate your data to the new provider?Does the original provider release all data (and any copies) to the new provider? How can you verify that? “SCTC Perspectives” is written by members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants, an international organization of independent information and communications technology professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.Tags:News & Viewscloud contact centercloud solution providerimplementationAPIscustomizationDeployment ModelsCCaaSCloud CommunicationsContact Center & Customer ExperienceSCTC Articles You Might Like Part two will deal with the implementation and migration from your current environment to the cloud architecture, and the best practices to minimize issues. HeadinClouds_774.png APIs and Integration – Particularly if you are coming from an architecture that is dependent on a significant number of integrations, this is an important consideration. It’s important to document your current integrations and application programming interfaces (APIs), and include that information in your discussions with the potential solution providers to ensure your needs can be supported by the new solution. Genesys in Japan: Blending the Old and New Sheila McGee-Smith June 05, 2019 Contact center provider finds that traditionalists tend to favor on-prem installations, while forward-looking brands embrace cloud. In an older, but still relevant discussion on about the pros and cons of cloud-based contact centers, David Paulding, who was with Interactive Intelligence at the time but has since moved on to roles at Genesys and now Capgemini, commented that the most important thing is to ensure that a move to the cloud meets the organization’s specific objectives and requirements. Also, it’s critical for decision makers to understand the full implications of the move. “It may not be the best possible solution, so it’s critical to understand the reasons for moving, the benefits and the challenges,” he said. If you listen to the vendor and much of the analyst communities today, it seems that all you hear about is the cloud: “We want to be a cloud company.” “The cloud is where you need to be.” “You need to move to the cloud.” But what if your organization already has an operational on-premises contact center solution and is about to make a replacement decision? You may be scratching your head, wondering if you are archaic to even be considering non-cloud, premises-based solutions. sctcperspective_Small.png Deployment Options – As you research potential solution providers, you need to determine whether the deployment options they offer are in line with your architectural requirements — i.e., public cloud, private cloud, hybrid, as well as how many deployments they have with your desired architecture. Log in or register to post comments read more

CoucheTard on cusp of deal to buy CST Brands says published report

by Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press Posted Aug 16, 2016 8:52 am MDT Last Updated Aug 16, 2016 at 4:02 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Couche-Tard on cusp of deal to buy CST Brands, says published report MONTREAL – Quebec-based Alimentation Couche-Tard says it’s in talks about potential acquisitions but would not confirm a published report that it could be on the cusp of reaching a deal to purchase rival CST Brands.The Wall Street Journal reports the deal — which would bolster Couche-Tard’s position as one of North America’s largest convenience store chains — could be announced as early as this week and would be worth at least US$3.4 billion, the market value of the Texas-based company.The paper cites sources familiar with the matter.However, WSJ warns other bidders — rumoured to include 7-Eleven, Marathon Petroleum, OXXO or a private-equity firm — could ultimately prevail.Couche-Tard (TSX:ATD.B), which operates the Circle K brand, has about 7,900 locations in North America, behind leader 7-Eleven. CST Brands has more than 2,000 locations in the U.S. and Canada.In a news release issued at the request of the Toronto Stock Exchange, the company confirmed that it’s in discussions with unnamed third parties about possible business transactions.“No formal agreements have been reached. There is no assurance that transactions will result from any of these discussions,” it said in a news release.“Couche-Tard reiterates that it will maintain its disciplined approach to acquisition opportunities to create value for its shareholders.”Chief executive Brian Hannasch said earlier this year that recent acquisitions, including the Esso retail network, don’t prevent the company from pursuing other acquisition targets such as CST Brands — which in March said it was conducting a strategic review that could include selling its network.Analyst Irene Nattel of RBC Capital Markets expects the transaction would face Competition Bureau challenges, especially in Quebec, where Couche-Tard has about 800 stores and CST has 533 locations. In Ontario, it has some 1,000 stores while CST has 146 locations.“Nonetheless, an analysis of the potential combination of CST’s footprint in Canada and U.S. and that of Couche-Tard remains intriguing,” she wrote in a report.Nattel said the deal could provide cost savings, including better inside-store supply terms, more efficient gas margin/volume management, reduced corporate overhead and increased market presence.However, Nattel said that existing long-term fuel supply agreements with Valero/Ultramar would appear to offset cost savings from a renegotiated fuel supply agreement.After failing in its public battle a few years ago to acquire Casey’s General Stores, Couche-Tard has preferred “done deals” over public market transactions, she added.Couche-Tard has been a consolidator in the convenience-store sector. Last year, it bought American retailer The Pantry’s 1,500 locations for about US$1.7 billion, including US$840 million for capital leases and debt.It operates convenience stores in Canada, the U.S. and Europe under the Couche-Tard, Mac’s, Kangaroo Express, Topaz, Ingo and Circle K brands. The company earned US$1.2 billion on US$34.1-billion of sales last year, compared to US$11.4-billion of revenues by CST.On the Toronto Stock Exchange, Alimentation Couche-Tard’s shares closed up 3.14 per cent to $62 on 1.1-million shares in Tuesday trading.Follow @RossMarowits on Twitter. read more