Micro-computers offer a multitude of benefits to the contact centre – from space, power and infrastructure reductions, to greater levels of reliability, while still delivering exceptional service.
When it comes to contact centres, the business perception of these services is often that they are little more than cost centres within an organisation, serving a necessary, yet expensive, purpose. Generally, organisations simply accept such a scenario, meaning that these costs are ones the business is expected to ‘live with’.
However, explains Xavier Nel, head of product at CloudGate, there are ways to help reduce the costs within a contact centre environment, simply by implementing the right technologies when it comes time for an organisational refresh.
“Much like in many other industries, contact centres utilise their fair share of legacy infrastructure, so sweating their assets – in the form of desktop computers – is only to be expected. However, when the time comes to refresh such technology, there is a school of thought that suggests that these entities should consider switching to micro PCs,” he says.
“Micro-computing is essentially a miniaturised version of the desktop that crams the same levels of technology and power into a much smaller form factor. By doing this, it makes the machine smaller, more versatile and more effective. Moreover, it also makes these devices cheaper to purchase, maintain and implement when compared to current desktop tower technology.”
Explaining some of the benefits, Nel says that these palm-sized devices far easier to implement and install than a traditional, bulky desktop tower. He points out as an example that a centre with 1 000 agents requiring new desktops would, in turn, need multiple trucks to deliver all this equipment, which would also take up a lot of space in the environment.
“With a palm-sized PC, it is simple to transport, requires far fewer vehicles, can be offloaded much more rapidly and is ultimately easier to implement as well. And here we are only talking about getting the equipment to the centre and installed, never mind the many other benefits it offers once it is installed.”
“For example, consider the amount of space taken up on a desk by the traditional PC tower. Now imagine saving the 30 or 40 centimetres of space taken up by such equipment, but by a factor of 1 000. Such space savings could allow the centre to either employ and host more agents in the same area, or it could enable it to reduce the physical space required to house the centre, thereby reducing costs significantly.”
Many other factors are also in favour of micro PCs, including the fact that they are essentially plug and play devices, so set up is quick and easy. Furthermore, a good, feature-rich micro-computer will have WiFi built-in, meaning the contact centre is not burdened with vast quantities of cabling – this again reduces your infrastructure requirements and speeds up the installation process, while also reducing expenses. Nel adds that these devices also offer Bluetooth connections, thus reducing the need for cabling even for peripherals, such as cordless headsets for agents.
“These devices are more reliable, in that they have fewer moving parts than traditional desktops, so they last longer and require less maintenance. Also, being small, they can be mounted out of the way, where they can’t easily be bumped or have anything spilled on them – all common occurrences with desktops in a typically crowded contact centre environment.”
“The key to success is to utilise the cloud as host for the majority of the applications and storage, but since most contact centres are moving in this direction anyway, that should not be a problem. This approach also means that you only require a small amount of built-in storage – a typical micro-computer offers 64Gb, while even a low-end desktop will provide at least 500Gb – something which once again impacts on the overall cost.”
Another big thing in the contact centre space is the need for power redundancy because without power you cannot make calls. Thus, having a built-in uninterrupted power supply (UPS) is vital for continuous operation, but with micro PCs, the amount of UPS required is significantly reduced. Whereas a typical desktop will probably consume around 200 Watts of power, the micro-computer uses about one-tenth of that. Once again, extrapolated over 1 000 seats, such a power-saving alone, even just during normal operations, will likely pay for the entire investment within a three to five year period.
“Ultimately, if you collectively consider all these factors, switching to micro PCs seems to be the logical evolution for contact centres. After all, power, space, and ease-of-use are all critical issues in this environment, and when you consider that it offers benefits in these key areas, along with a much cheaper overall cost to a similar desktop, it really does seem to be a no-brainer for the contact centre of the future,” concludes Nel.