In a volatile, cyclical economy that oscillates between recessions and moderate growths, the last thing businesses will want are infrastructural investments going horribly wrong. Particularly so in an intensely competitive environment where vendors vie with one another for procurement dollars!
When companies open their cash chests to embrace new technologies their objectives can be manifold, from a robust platform to vendor credibility. But what any investments must yield are:
- A solution architected to help them overcome their pain points, the operational limitations they face
- A future-ready platform for long-term viability
- A timely deployment and strong support from a credible supplier
- Good returns on investment
- A happy-ever-after scenario where their project objectives are met!
But a rosy picture is not always they end up with, occasionally running into consequences they did not bargain for. That could happen if their business priorities are allowed to go adrift.
Who will want more trouble to contend with than the ongoing factors that prompted them to go for change in an attempt to upgrade their IT environment?
Due diligence is an imperative for them before signing on the dotted line.
Don’t Allow Issues to Simmer for Long
But let not doomsday scenarios weigh you down as if you have issues they need to be fixed, not allowed to simmer for long. Delays can cause you more pain and leave you in the red over the long term.
So what can you do, and how, to protect your investments? If you are a business in the process of upgrading your infrastructure there are a few ways you can try to get more bang for your buck.
Direct Engagement or RFP Route? If you have done a root-cause analysis and know where the problems lie, the earlier you have them resolved the better. You can proactively go with a trusted partner for a direct engagement.
This is helpful if you are keen on having the project completed early without having to go through the competitive bidding process that can consume time and more costs.
If time is not a constraint and if you want a thorough review of the options available in the market, you can take the RFP route and ensure a level-playing field for all bidders with clearly defined project objectives and realistic evaluation criteria.
The bottomline is that your investments must deliver the benefits anticipated.
Too good to be true: A solution that can meet all of your technical requirements even while being the lowest-priced one in the market is almost always too good to be true.
If you decide to go with competitive bidding, take time to make the RFP documents comprehensive covering your:
- Project objectives
- Technical / Functional requirements
- Evaluation criteria (both technical and commercial) and
- Timelines – the full roadmap from RFP release to proposal submission and implementation
Any ambiguities within can make bidders misread the requirements or factor in assumptions, both of which will only delay the decision-making process.
Utility / OpEx / PPU Model: If capital expenditure is an issue, a utility-based OpEx / Pay-Per-Use (PPU) pricing model can be a viable proposition.
It can help you minimise your capex and operational risks while equipping you with the flexibility to expand your services based on market dynamics. You will have the ability to flex volumes up and down as business cycles dictate.
As this is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) model, you will not own the assets needed to deliver your services – neither the licenses nor the equipment. The supplier will own it all, deliver (call centre, for instance) services and charge you usage-based subscription fees, keeping your upfront costs minimal.
An Omnichannel Customer Experience (CX) platform: For greater specificity, let us assume you are seeking a customer experience platform. You will a unified Omnichannel platform that delivers touchpoint orchestration and engagement optimisation across all channels out of the box. Without it, sustaining a great CX can be just a castle in the sky.
Some essential considerations to apply here are:
- Does it offer you a single, integrated platform? A single point of configuration, management, routing and reporting is critical for ease of use.
- Without a unified platform that delivers touchpoint orchestration and engagement optimisation across all channels out of the box sustaining a great CX can be just a castle in the sky.
- Omnichannel Journey Orchestration & Management: Are you able to design, orchestrate, monitor & continuously tune personalised and journey-specific experiences across all touchpoints, channels and interactions?
- Omnichannel Multimodal Self-Service: Contextual self-service across simultaneous channels
- Journey Analytics: Will you get a 360-degree view and analysis of the full customer journey, including all interactions, supporting operations and workforce behaviours?
- Will it help you maximise first contact resolution and meet customer SLAs?
- Real-Time Omnichannel SLA Management: Can you manage service levels in real time across channels, ensuring CX consistency as well as priority for high-value interactions while guaranteeing adherence?
- Will it give you the ability to optimise cross-sell revenue from new and existing customers and improve customer loyalty?
Greater Rigour: There are many other factors that go beyond the technical strengths of a solution that you should weigh for some rigour around the selection process. They include:
- Do they demonstrate a clear understanding of your requirements, the issues you face and your project goals?
- Vendors’ track record in deploying the solution you are looking for
- R&D investments will highlight their commitment to product development and innovation.
- Do they have the resources and ability to meet your project timeframes?
- Is risk assessment / mitigation in their DNA?
- Are they substantiating their claims with credible proof-points and benefits?
- One way is to seek a demo that can give you evidence of what is promised. A mere PowerPoint presentation can hardly give you the right picture.
This post has touched on some fool-proof ways to ensure you end up with the right solution choice. Investing in infrastructure is a decision that can have unpleasant consequences if not made right. Ultimately, it is your money and it is in your interest to spend it wisely.
G Joslin Vethakumar