Call Recording is not a new application. Historically, Contact Centers have used call recording extensively for training, compliance and risk mitigation purposes. But if it makes senses to use call recording to help train your contact center agents, why not your sales people, service personnel, or help desk agents? Why not use call recording for risk mitigation with your legal or procurement departments? Vendor management?
The most logical answer to these questions is cost and scale. Traditional premise-based recording solutions have been expensive to implement and expensive to upgrade. Most are based on proprietary technologies and file formats so there is little competition once you choose a platform from the traditional providers. The Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of a traditional premise-based recording platform can range greatly, but costs in the $20 – $45 per user per month are not uncommon. Upgrades alone can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. This has made it infeasible for an Enterprise to broadly deploy a recording solution. It has also made call recording infeasible for small businesses as the cost of entry and initial investment is prohibitive.
The advent of cloud services is changing this; it is helping to drive down TCO through scale and multi-tenancy. Larger scale allows for lower per-user costs. Multi-tenancy allows a single cloud instance of an application to service multiple customers, often through a Service Provider, and thus accommodates scale. These two things together can have a dramatic impact on TCO, in some cases as dramatically as a 75% reduction.
Just virtualizing a premise built application (a per-instance deployment model) does not necessarily make it a “cloud” service that can scale nor support multi-tenant environments and hence per-instance Cloud solutions do not address the TCO issue. Contact Centers, for which most call recording solutions were built, rarely staff more than several hundred users before expanding to a multiple location configuration. Also, since the recording solutions were premise built, they tended not to be centralized but deployed close to the call control PBX. Centralization of call control was not largely prevalent before present day IP based solutions. Thus, most traditional call recording solutions were not designed to scale to a large number of users or concurrent calls. Just virtualizing the application and moving it to the cloud does not change this underlying architecture.
By building a call recording solution from scratch, for the cloud environment, you can design the components to scale linearly, to support multi-tenancy and also you can add functions that will better enable a Service Provider to offer the application as a service (provisioning, billing, integration and automation.)
Where will this take us?
The TCO of call recording will drop dramatically. The application will become more generally used. New use cases will be found that will improve productivity and risk mitigation.
We are already seeing this in the small and medium business market where small businesses are able to acquire call recording service from their Service Providers at a per user per month subscription that is affordable without significant investment, knowledge and continual management. Recordings are available through standard browser interfaces and in standard file formats without proprietary applications needing to be installed locally. Also, Enterprises are now deploying call recording beyond the contact center, in some cases, they are even to record every endpoint in the organization. This is being enabled by the emergence of cost effective Cloud recording solutions.
As call recording becomes more feasible and affordable it will also be required more often. Today, the finance industry is familiar with having to record the calls of brokers for regulatory purposes. How long will it be before healthcare requires the same? Governments are required to retain documents and emails, why not call recordings? Will the Freedom of Information Act eventually cover voice conversations? And what about the productivity improvements that a mobile workforce can gain from being able to access recordings of important conversations to verify that they have accurately understood any instructions given?
Unified Communications (UC) has become a widely used set of applications that include voice, video, IM, Chat, Presence, etc. Enterprise users have gained great productivity improvements from these tools allowing them to be more responsive, more available, able to be reached through a single number, more mobile, etc. Call recording will become a standard feature in many UC premium seats. We are already seeing this in the lower end of the market where Service Providers are offering call recording as a competitive weapon to win more business deals and in response to RFPs. As call recording becomes more and more affordable through cloud, this practice will move up stream to larger Enterprises. Service Providers will need to offer call recording as part of their premium UC seats in order to be competitive and without breaking out a separate charge for it.
What should we do now?
If you are a call recording user or Enterprise, stop investing in legacy call recording solutions and build a roadmap to a cloud-based solution. The TCO savings will be significant. Also, look for non-traditional places in your business where call recording could help you boost productivity or mitigate risk. For example, mobile workers can use recording to re-listen to client calls for better note taking and understanding. Another example would be Legal Depositions that are recorded on analog tapes, these can be displaced with a cloud-based recording solution in a manner that your users will find easier to use and you will find less costly to provide.
Service Providers, prepare to offer call recording as part of your standard offering. Build an infrastructure or partner with a wholesale provider to white label a recording service as part of your premium UC stack.
How long this transformation will take and how much of the market will move to the cloud is not known. We do know that it has started and that the annual growth rate far exceeds the stagnant growth in the premise-based PBX market. We also believe the pace of change will accelerate. Sooner or later, the TCO savings will be too compelling to ignore and any gaps in feature functionality will be closed.
By Randy Sorensen
VP Global Sales (SmartRecord)