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Hosted technology provider 1Stream has released a white paper detailing the key trends affecting the South African contact center industry, including technology providers in the space.

“The market has definitely grown dramatically over the last five years,” says Bruce von Maltitz, director of 1Stream. “In the mid-2000s, we were still educating the market about cloud technology and its application. Now hosted technology has become the norm, rather than the exception to the rule. This does not, however, mean that all providers are delivering the service and technology equally well. We hope that this paper will highlight some of the pitfalls – and new features – that call center managers should consider before engaging with a provider.”

Trends highlighted in the whitepaper include:

  • The shifting role of the in-house IT department

Many companies are procuring IT as a service, rather than a product, in order to take advantage of the reduction in costs and improvement in quality a hosted provider can offer, due to economies of scale. This does not mean that IT will be replaced in the modern call center, but rather that IT department’s services will be complemented by hosted providers that run certain critical functions within the company. “This means that call center managers can spend less time focusing on the technical aspects of managing a call center, and more time focusing their energy on managing staff,” says Von Maltitz.

  • The advent of home agents

Although the exact number of call center agents working from their homes are not known, anecdotal evidence tells us that as many as 5% of call center workers are “home-shorers”. “Internationally, home agents are the number one growth segment of customer contacts and we are looking forward to seeing this model adopted widely in South Africa,” says Von Maltitz. “This not only allows companies to pursue and attract new talent, but also to lower their operating costs quite dramatically.”

  • The growth of smart, mobile clients

“Customers want to speak to companies via social media, and contact centers have to accommodate that desire,” says Von Maltitz. “It is no longer a fringe issue and has to be integrated into the daily workflow of contact centers.”

  • The increase of customer-orientated legislation

“Legislation such as the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI) will change how call centers handle, transfer and use their customers’ information,” says Von Maltitz. “Encryption, firewalls and back-ups will be essential if companies hope to be compliant.”

1Stream also believes that drivers to the cloud have shifted from being entirely motivated by costs, towards other benefits, such as the ease of provisioning. “Cost was always seen a primary driver to the cloud, but as the market matured, call centers have realised that is the most efficient way of working. It’s no longer about recession-busting. Gartner has predicted that about 75% of all call centers will be hosted in the cloud by the end of this year.”

The paper can be downloaded here: Key Trends affecting the South African Contact Center

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