When the cloud first emerged one of its main selling points was the ability to place applications into a hosted enviornment without any fear of having capacity problems.
That attraction saw a number of applications from email and backup head into the cloud and many users took their first steps looking for a third party to take on responsibility for storing and securing their data.
But with the growth in the volume of that information as well as significant changes to what the business intelligence community can offer the reasons for adopting hosted solutions is changing.
Now the buzzword for the channel to master is "customer engagement" as according to the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) it is driving around a third of users decisions to move into the cloud.
Earlier this month Gartner revealed that improving the customer experience was a major driver in digital transformation projects as firms looked to not only pull together all of the sources of communication with users, including the traditional as well as social media, but they were also looking to break down a siloed approach and create a unified organisation.
It is at that point that some are turning to the cloud to host their customer services and support activities to take advantage of the capacity and speed that is on offer from the technology.
The CIF user survey found that improving customer service and support was now one of the top three business objectives driving investment in the cloud, with SMEs very keen on the idea. For those that have made the decision to go ahead the results seem to be positive with 26% improving their customer service and 23% reporting an improvement in their customer engagement by using cloud services.
Alex Hilton, CEO of the Cloud Industry Forum, said that there were competitive advantages for those firms that were using the cloud: “It is clear that Cloud is making a big impact on the way businesses interact with their customers. From streamlining the support desk, to providing a solid foundation for an omni-channel customer engagement strategy, the flexibility of Cloud means that the conventional frustrations of customer care are eliminated.”
The findings tie-in with a current trend in the market for customers to use IT to become more competitive, mining more nuggets out of their interaction with customers than their rivals are able to.
There has already been some take-up in key verticals that live and die by their customer service, including the retail and hospitality sectors, but there can not be too many customers that do not want to learn more about how they can improve the support and services they provide.
Keiron Dalton, director of cloud solutions EA at Aspect Software, said that the results showed a welcome move from talking about cloud technology to a discussion around how it could change business performance.
"Much of the conversation to date about cloud has been about how it compares with on-premise solutions from a technology point of view. If you’ve got an ageing bit of kit and need a replacement, or need to be able to scale in line with your changing business, cloud can help. Of course these are valid reasons, but agility and scalability aren’t end goals in and of themselves; ultimately you want to be able to offer your end users, be they internal or external, more support and an improved experience, which is one of the great strengths of Cloud computing," he said.
"Customers today, Millennials in particular, want to be able to easily and conveniently slide between mobile channels during the same interaction, from social media and mobile apps to the traditional voice call. Therefore it’s important that businesses can respond with the same agility and provide a frictionless service regardless of the contact method used," he added.
Earlier this week Avangate cut the ribbon a B2B cloud platform for tech vendors keen to make sure that they did not miss out on meeting ever higher customer demands with the firm using the moment to underline just why getting user engagement right matters.
“The New Services Economy represents the next rapidly expanding trillion-dollar market and is reshaping how companies should view Digital Commerce. It’s no longer a hit-and-run, one-time transactional economy. The proliferation of pay-as-you-go business models and the explosion of revenue moments across the activation, upsell/cross-sell, renewal and retention stages require companies to focus beyond just upfront customer acquisition,” said Carl Theobald, CEO of Avangate.
“Each revenue moment is an opportunity for digital businesses to build long-term relationships with their customers. Otherwise, it can be a point of failure that drains revenue. How companies navigate these moments and points of revenue leakage across the Commerce Lifecycle are life or death for digital businesses," he added.