POSITION OF CLOUD BASED CONTACT CENTER TECHNOLOGY IN INDIA

Status Review
March 24, 2018


INTRODUCTION

Cloud Service is highly popular for almost all applications currently. Cloud is becoming popular for voice and contact center applications also globally. There is lot of interest from the clients for cloud based services. Cloud based contact center brings lot of advantages to clients primarily in terms of flexibility, better manageability, commercial affordability, etc (especially for short term commitments). However, `cloud based contact center services’ are still not popular and practical in India primarily due to regulatory concerns. This document describes the current situation of cloud based contact center services in Indian market

ADOPTION

Cloud based contact center services are available in India for over 3 years (Since 2015) but still the adoption rate is very poor. No high volume, mission critical contact center requirement has moved to cloud service yet in India. Those who have taken the early plunge in adopting `cloud based contact center service’ are moving out of cloud to `On-Prem’ model due to voice quality concerns. There are many instances of customers moving out of cloud service to `On-Prem’ installation.

CHALLENGES

Biggest challenge for `cloud based contact center service’ in India is complying to TRAI regulations. TRAI regulations bring in the following challenges for enterprise customers adopting `cloud based contact center technology’

1. TRAI has still not framed any specific license for providers offering `cloud based voice and contact center’ services. There is complete lack of clarity on this. Few service providers took advantage of this and started offering `cloud based contact center service’ by taking `Other Service Provider (OSP)’, Telemarketing License and AudioTex licenses. None of these license talks specific about `cloud based voice service’. OSP license is taken for offering customer service transactions using telecom service. AudioTex license gives eligibility for running IVR based messaging services. However, DoT (Department Of Telecommunication) occasionally creates issues for the service providers quoting regulatory concern. One such major issue was faced by Knowlarity (www,knowlarity.com) on 28th June 2016 shutting down their services for all enterprise customers for more than a day. Knowlarity is the leading `cloud based telephony and contact center service provider’ in India. A DoT (TERM cell) official during a routine inspection of Knowlarity’s operation concluded that Knowlarity’s operation is illegal and OSP and AudioTex licenses are not sufficient to `switch calls from PSTN to PSTN’ and ordered the telecom service provider to disconnect all PSTN lines to Knowlarity. Knowlarity appealed against this and got their lines restored but many customers lost their peace and business in this bargain. This issue has not surfaced since 2016 but this is still `Sword of Damocles’ for enterprise customers.

2. As per TRAI regulation, a PSTN call cannot be switched through Internet or `Private Leased Network’. This is permitted only for authorized telecom service providers. Unlike what has been described in Point 1, this regulatory condition is `crystal clear’. Violation of this is considered seriously by DoT and may involve penalties to the tune of crores. This regulation is still a major stumbling block for the adoption of `cloud contact center technology’ in India. Let me explain why. Because PSTN calls cannot be switched through Internet or through a `Private Network’, only option for a `cloud service provider’ to switch customer’s calls to the contact center is to patch the call with another PSTN dial-out from the cloud to the call center. This doubles the calling cost and also severely impacts the quality of the voice call. This creates quality issues such as Delays, Echos, Poor Voice quality, etc.
Few `Cloud based Contact Center Service Providers’ are found to switch the calls through Internet circumventing this rule. But this is illegal and poses a serious risk for enterprises going with such service providers.
Few `Cloud based Contact Center Service Providers’ (Knowlarity, Ozonetel) to name a few abide by this regulation and switch the customer’s call by making another PSTN call. This severely affects the quality of the voice calls. Almost all the enterprise customers who have taken such service, suffer from voice quality related issues.

OUR STAND

FutureCalls also (www.futurecalls.com) provides `cloud based contact center service’ is association with Altitude Software (www.altitude.com). Our stand is very clear. We will not do anything which is not permissible. We will be very careful and diligent about this. We offer hybrid contact center service. In our hybrid offer, We offer the highly reliable Altitude Software contact center technology from our cloud but the telephony gateway and telephony circuits have to be implemented at customer’s premises. By this, customer does not suffer voice quality issues typical to a `cloud based contact center’. However, customer has to still implement and manage a telephony gateway and PSTN lines at their premises.


Prepared by Jaganathan, Managing Director of FutureCalls Technology (www.futurecalls.com)