Six Cloud Trends That are Making Waves in 2017

As CIOs and IT leaders rely on the cloud to grow their businesses, new trends and innovations will continue to emerge and reshape the future.
Cloud is no longer a buzzword that is only popular in big businesses, but, has trickled down to the masses. It is woven in our everyday lives, in the way we communicate, listen to music, watch movies, and store or share our data. Cloud has also dramatically transformed the way business is conducted. Recent studies have shown that businesses employing cloud services improve their productivity and grow 19.6% faster than those that don’t.

The digital economy we operate in, marks the boundless growth of new age technologies such as IoT, big data, real-time data capturing and analytics, and on-demand services. In this aggressively competitive scenario, cloud provides a conducive environment to create a lean, flexible, and responsive digital eco-system that is required to navigate the rough tides of the connected world.

Here are some key cloud trends that impact IT strategies in 2017 for organizations looking to deploy cloud services:

1. Cloud 2.0

A new era in cloud technology has begun. From ‘cloud first’, companies are moving to ‘cloud only’. As per IDC Chief Analyst Frank Gens, cloud implementation is “moving beyond experimentation towards mass enterprise adoption.” Cloud 2.0 is about doing more with the data that is stored in the cloud- analyzing the patterns in data, identifying anomalies and drawing insights. According to Diane Greene, Senior VP of Google’s cloud businesses, organizations should reflect on the question, “Now that you’re in the cloud, how do you take advantage of it so that your business can operate at a whole new level?” Powered by Machine Learning and intelligent analytics, Cloud 2.0 is moving from mere storage to data analysis and more.

2. Cloud Containers

It is believed that the use of cloud containers will become more widespread. The portability, flexibility, and cost-efficiency in operations that containers enable, are the reasons for their increasing popularity. According to cloud experts, containers will be used for deploying solutions to solve real-world business problems. Companies will use them to provide new services that are secure, efficient, elastic, and scalable.

3. Cloud Microservices

Harnessing the real potential of cloud is possible through the use of microservices architecture. Cloud microservices is used for creating new applications, as well as for utilizing existing ones. This is especially useful for companies migrating to the cloud, which can create microservices around existing applications, thereby easing the transition. When combined with containers, microservices can bring to the forefront, the features of scalability, re-usability, and resilience that cloud promotes.

4. Cloud APIs

Cloud Application Programmer Interfaces (APIs) are becoming increasingly customer-centric. Being consumer focused is having a positive impact on their quality, maturity and scalability rate. Event economy (If This Then That), web automation, and digital transformation are fueling the growth of cloud APIs, as APIs help in the adoption and development of automation for businesses and consumers. APIs are playing a vital role in business because of their ability to integrate platforms and apps. They are able to remove barriers to revenue growth by facilitating the swift launch and scalability of business models.

5. Server-less Computing

Server-less Computing is a key trend that is bound to grow as it requires far fewer infrastructure resources and eases the load on developers. As the adoption of ‘Function-as-a-service’ increases, server-less computing will rise to support the shift from DevOps (scripted automation) to NoOps (intelligent operations). In line with AI, analytics, and automation, server-less computing will contribute to the creation and use of smarter machines that save time, effort, and money.

6. Cloud Security

Security still remains a concern for companies moving to the cloud, though, there is an increase in the number of organizations that are transitioning. In order to ease their worries, data security in the cloud will have to step up. The cloud is expected to be a strong provider of security as a fundamental offering. Storage options, flexibility, easy deployment, and scalability are features of the cloud that enable it to ensure complete safety of data.

Impact of Cloud Trends 2017

The trends affect multiple aspects of business – growth, cost, revenue, customer experience, and ability to innovate. As these aspects tend to be interconnected, we have examined the impact on the following key factors:

1. Enhanced Customer Experience

Cloud 2.0, being the era of data analytics, real-time intelligence, AI, automation, and machine learning, will enable organizations to understand customers and provide a seamless experience across multiple channels. E-commerce, loyalty programs, and on-demand support are examples of cloud services that aid in providing superior customer experience.

2. Reduced Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

On account of being virtual, cloud is more cost efficient than physical infrastructure. Cloud technologies such as server-less computing are bound to reduce costs even further while increasing the organization’s productivity and efficiency. Also, the benefits of agility, flexibility, and scalability that the cloud provides, have long-term impact on optimizing costs.

3. Improved Agility and Business Intelligence (BI)

Cloud APIs help in the faster implementation of business models and their scalability. This means businesses can quickly respond to changes in the market using innovative strategies. Additionally, companies can draw actionable insights by processing and analyzing raw data in the cloud. These insights prove to be a solid base for developing innovative products, services, and solutions.

Leveraging Cloud to Grow your Business

As clearly indicated by the above trends, while there are immense benefits in moving to the cloud, jumping onto the cloud bandwagon without proper knowledge or guidance is far from a prudent business move. For companies to remain updated, relevant, and competitive in a world that is dominated by rapidly evolving technology, they need to have a strategic cloud framework in place that is agile, efficient, and flexible. Partnering with the right solution providers can give companies that edge.

The Road Ahead

As CIOs and IT leaders rely on the cloud to grow their businesses, new trends and innovations will continue to emerge and reshape the future. The use of hybrid models of public and private clouds will become the norm, as organizations use multiple different providers for specific services. Further, companies will have to invest in training the workforce to augment their cloud skills and incubate newer technologies.


How COVID-19 Is Reshaping the Contact Center Industry

According to the Contact Center Satisfaction Index 2019 from CFI Group, a market research firm, customer satisfaction with contact centers has been on the decline in the past few years. With the COVID-19 outbreak, this trend took a sharper slide.

Let’s face it: Many contact centers, including those with well-prepared disaster recovery plans, were caught unprepared in the face of this global humanitarian and economic crisis. Many of them are still scrambling to tackle an unprecedented spike in overall call volume (particularly in health care, government, and financial services), as well as manage staffing resources and the huge transition to the work-from-home environment.

Weaknesses Revealed

When the coronavirus outbreak hit us, chaos loomed everywhere. Movement patterns of customers had flipped, and workforces got atomized. As they should, safety and reliability became the top priorities for businesses and customers alike.
As customer behavior moved from physical interactions to digital transactions, businesses came under enormous pressure to continue delivering customer services, with quality and compassion. As the customer demands soared in the contactless business environment, businesses found themselves short of capacity and unable to address the emerging needs and consumption patterns. Many businesses pivoted and retooled to adapt to this society-wide shift. But as the outbreak has intensified, and with online buying at an all-time high, logistical delays and related issues have again led to exceedingly high call volumes.

While customers were initially patient and understanding, they’re now realizing this is the new normal, and many believe, understandably, that customer service organizations should have this figured out by now. Faced with long wait times, being routed from one channel/agent to another, having to repeat themselves, and, worst of all, not getting their problems resolved, customers are no longer finding the situation acceptable. They have started hitting their breaking points and increasingly bidding a not-so-fond farewell to companies.

The contact center industry has been facing one of the greatest challenges in its history—a sharp need to augment its ability to serve COVID-19-related customer queries and emerge stronger in the aftermath. As businesses formulated and implemented short-term crisis management plans, some smart companies had their call centers respond by adopting forward-looking reallocation measures.

While some companies have succeeded in re-evaluating their contact center strategies, capabilities, and channel mix (live chat, voice channels, etc.) to support the heavier volumes, deliver quality customer experiences, and gain a competitive edge by earning customer trust, others still seem to be struggling to adapt.

Since customers understand that normality is not likely to be restored anytime soon, they are pinning their hopes on companies adapting to the crisis now, and may not be in a forgiving mood. For instance, Amazon shoppers have quickly lost tolerance for delays and damaged or lost items, and are posting negative reviews to a degree never seen before. We’re all too familiar with what a spate of bad reviews can do to organizations, with or without a pandemic.

It’s a no-brainer that a good customer experience during the crisis will create a positive brand perception and customer loyalty post-crisis. Conversely, ill-prepared, ineffective, or uncaring responses are likely to trigger an equally pronounced negative reaction, which may lead to permanent loss of customers sooner than most companies realize.

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Small deals here to stay, enough room for all

According to Nigam, the consumption patterns are shifting from back office to front, and the IT is revenue enabler and therefore the consumption of solutions would be smaller in nature

Nishikant Nigam, EVP and Chief Delivery Officer, CSS Corp, and an ex-Infoscion, speaks about the evolving role of the delivery officer how a mid-tier outsourcing firm finds its niche among the larger players, and why he thinks smaller deal sizes in the industry are here to stay over the next 3-5 years.

Here are some edited excerpts from the interview:


Q: How is the role of a Chief Delivery Officer changing, with automation being such a constant theme?

 A: IT itself, is in my opinion, firmly in the driver seat in terms of any enterprise and it is the differentiator, it is the revenue generator for those enterprises.

In the past, it was probably the back-office role, therefore the role of the Delivery Officer or a Delivery Head of any organization becomes much more important, it is more connected to the clients and the businesses to solve the business problems which are the technologies, which are fairly new and maturing very fast.

Earlier there was an era of large deals; you would see 50-100 million dollars deals, a lot of focus was on executing those deals to perfection and that was the delivery main role, but today, with deal sizes have become much smaller, and therefore all the organizations who are providing IT services have to be different.


Q: You are a mid-tier services company, how is the kind of deals that you get into different from your larger peers? Do you think large deals are going to make a comeback?

A: My view is not in the near term because the consumption patterns are shifting from back office to front, and the IT is revenue enabler and therefore the consumption of solutions would be smaller in nature.

So, we won’t see 100 million dollars deals. It’s already happening, those are not there in the market. I think we are still three to five years away from a time when technology disruption of this kind takes place.

You would see the consumption pattern would always be small because our clients are also figuring this out (new technology), it takes time. And therefore I don’t think that we are going to see that kind of deal size in the near term but at the same time, the excitement and the consumption would increase on the smaller deal size, there would be many such deals because when you play on the revenue side the pie is much bigger. In the next 2-3 years, you would see multiple such deals happening in parallel and that is where we are also seeing traction.

We are getting into that part of the business and seeing the consumption growth in terms of numbers.


Q: So, what are the technologies that clients are most excited about?

A:  Data is becoming the most important thing we all know that people say “Data is the new oil, data is gold”. So, I think that technologies which are going to deal with real-time data are going to be very very important. The enterprises today have to make real-time decisions on their consumer behavior and therefore you need to have solutions which can enable that.

Technology-wise, there are multiple technologies which would come together. It would be a combination of data science, AI, analytics, IoT, virtual assistance. All those technologies or a combination of them would provide those kinds of experiences to our customer’s customer.


Q: You mentioned AI and IoT you have also been investing very heavily, internally in these technologies, could you talk a little bit, about the Cognitive Customer Experience Platform platform and other initiatives?

A: We invested very heavily some months ago in our Innovation Labs.

We have around 50 plus User experience designers, extreme programmers, we have around 40 data scientists, who are only working in the labs. Therefore, all these guys, the great brains are coming together.

Cognitive Customer Experience Platform is our AI platform which is one of the platforms, which is ingesting a lot of data, it also helps in virtual assistant in real time, it can be applied to conversational commerce, and it can be applied in the tech support area of where it becomes an enabler

Active Insights is a customer intelligence solution. We are sitting on the huge amount of data from our customers where we can find patterns in that data, we can apply those patterns into real-time work, in terms of either benefiting the business process or helping in terms of making the hyper-personalized experience for their customers so all that can be done through that.

We also have a context-driven IT operations and automation platform called Contelli, which can be applied to any infra world hybrid eco-system. It can quickly bring down the total cost of ownership as well as it has very contextual automation and we believe on the cost side in the contextual automation.


Q: How are you finding people with the requisite skill set? Are you retraining internally?

A: These are specialized services and I think that there is enough talent because in our lab we don’t need more than 100 people. So, from that point of view, you can attract talent. There are those kinds of people available, they may not be in large numbers. Secondly, you also need to re-purpose, re-orient.

The other thing is to retain talent. The employees need to also see whatever they are doing, they are able to generate interest in our client’s organization, and they are also contributing to our revenue growth.

As word spreads, this is how more and more people come in.


Maximizing on positive reinforcement and adopting a reward-first culture

We are now more than six months into the pandemic- a never-before-seen situation for organizations worldwide. With an atomized workforce, every company has been tested on how they react to these stressful circumstances.
As the most influential model of motivation, Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs dissects the fundamental needs of humans – basic, psychological, and self-fulfillment needs. Employees’ needs are indeed a microcosmic reflection of this model and are vital to track their growth and development.

Maslow’s Hierarchy and Employee Engagement

Organizations can apply the psychoanalytic dimension of this model for employee engagement and effectively address their needs. Fair compensations meet their physiological and safety needs. Employee recognitions and rewards make them feel valued and appreciated thereby addressing their esteem needs. Thereby, making employees feel motivated to reach their true potential, thus carving a path for their self-actualization needs. It is a known fact that appreciation and motivation come hand in hand. Whether it is the plaudits an artist receives from the audience or a standing ovation after a batsman hits his century, the recognition received is unmatched even by loads of money

COVID-19: Putting theory into practice

We are now more than six months into the pandemic- a never-before-seen situation for organizations worldwide. With an atomized workforce, every company has been tested on how they react to these stressful circumstances.

Employee focus and engagement in uncertain times like these are coming across as one of the most common challenges.

When the different stages of Maslow’s hierarchy are not addressed, people are likely to suffer from mental health issues, affecting their overall well-being. This can gradually result into low employee engagement levels, morale, and productivity.

Understand the situation

The nature of the pandemic, its spread and health impacts coupled with isolated working have impinged upon the psyche of the employees with multifarious emotions viz. anxiety, uncertainty, fear, overwhelm, and pessimism. Thereby, shifting organizational focus to down a level or two on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Currently, employees are increasingly getting more motivated by the bottom three levels:

Physiological (food, water, sleep, clothing, shelter)
Safety and security (personal, emotional, financial, health)
Belonging (friends, relationships, family).
As such, organizations need to demonstrate dynamic cognition of the situation and innovate new ways of engaging with employees, ensuring a positive flow of energy and increased levels of recognition.

Many employee-centric companies have put on hold on-going initiatives, and reprioritized employee safety as a paramount requirement. The implementation of a work from anywhere policy is part of this employee-safety-first approach. For those companies where remote working was not fully feasible, employers ensured special efforts towards increased workspace separation and sanitation, social distancing, spacing work on manufacturing floors, and staggered shifts.

Many organizations like Amazon, Facebook, Walmart, Reliance, PepsiCo, and Paytm have also been taking care of employee compensations, organizing elaborate learning and development programs, and monitoring the mental well-being of their employees. PepsiCo has also pledged to pay full salaries to quarantined employees. Walmart has been hiring aggressively and paying extra bonuses to its employees for going above and beyond the call of duty in serving its customers during these challenging times. Facebook has also rewarded its employees with $1,000 bonuses to support their families in adapting during the crisis.

Mental wellness of employees is one of the most critical HR challenges in this health and economic crisis. ITC Hotels Group is treating mental wellness as its top priority. In this pursuit, each HR manager calls at least 10 employees daily to check upon their and family’s health and safety.

Organizations have had to rethink town halls and transform them into 100% virtual yet engaging sessions. Using collaboration platforms like Zoom, WebEx, Microsoft Teams, HR teams have been bringing the whole organization together in a virtual environment where leaders can share their thoughts and financial results with employees, address many hard-hitting questions from employees and reward top performers. Also, to address the fun and engagement facet of workforce management, HRs are now organizing multiple health and wellness webinars, virtual games, yoga sessions and virtual celebrations on special occasions and festivals.

All these employee-centric steps help companies to achieve their objective of keeping employees feel valued, appreciated, motivated, and cared for.

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Are You A Cost Center Or A Profit Center?

In a digital economy, customer experience [CX] is the new currency. CX is at the epicenter of the success of any engagement across industries. According to a Walker study, by the year 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. Organizations should understand that flawless post-purchase customer support is the key component of a well-crafted customer CX strategy. Amidst all the evolution and innovation in the technology industry, the key differentiator for companies is the personal care and support that they offer to their customers.

Increasingly, technology companies are looking at ways to deliver customer support services around the connected home sector. Demand for cross-platform consumption of media and content is opening further revenue opportunities for OMEs and service providers. Organizations are experiencing enormous difficulty in improving CX, with limited support budgets. With the steady increase in the number of devices and the growing needs of users, support costs are prone to shoot up.

To add to the woes of the product industry, product revenues are declining due to the growing popularity of the anything-as-a-service (Xaas) model and the dramatic increase in competition. Moreover, traditional, reactive support budgets are shrinking. Opportunities that enable the creation of additional revenues to subsidize costs have become the need of the hour. Therefore, there is intensified pressure on support functions to step up and generate top-line revenue growth for businesses.

Recalibrating Investments in Technology

Until now, the core objective of most customer service and support engagements has been to reduce cost, automate back-office business processes and manage support remotely. Driving revenue for customers seemed unthinkable. Vendors seldom discussed solutions where the value proposition was around helping customers generate new revenue streams and augment growth opportunities. The majority of organizations are yet to realize the hidden potential of their customer support function to transform into a growth catalyst.

In the current scenario, not many companies are paying enough attention to new-age solutions which have the prowess to mitigate challenges in generating revenue. Also, there are not many ideal solutions in the market that are future proof.

The key is to design a customer-specific support solution that helps companies enhance customer experience and convert their CapEx-heavy support function into a profit-making function. Organizations need pre-packaged support solutions that include customer service, self-help, knowledgebase, analytics, and operational expertise. The service should be built on a revenue-sharing approach, aimed at transforming a cost center to a profit center and converting non-revenue generating calls into revenue streams for the connected homes sector.

Support Center into a Profit Center

A robust, sophisticated tech support service such as Premium Tech Support (PTS) is the best possible remedy to all these business problems. PTS is the ideal pre-packaged solution that provides the entire gamut of services from supporting consumer products to managing infrastructure and deploying networks. This should be a subscription-based model that generates significant revenue while creating superlative customer experiences at the same time.

This brandable tech support solution effectively leverages the transforming power of digital, automation, analytics, artificial intelligence, omnichannel support, and machine learning.  Cognitive computing and digital analytics (including predictive and consumption analysis) embedded in PTS, enables unearthing of deep insights into the behavior and needs of customers. Advanced machine-learning capabilities identify issues and correlate them across multiple parameters in real-time. Organizations are able to use this solution to manage customer environments, and also proactively identify, fix and self-heal issues via automation independently. It has the ability to trigger alerts to contact center managers whenever there is a need for action.

PTS’ subscription-based model can earn significant revenue share for businesses, as they get a share of the revenue for each subscription that is sold. For example, if the agreed share percent is 30%, the company will earn $30 million out of every $100 million, that is earned through the sale of subscriptions.

Powered by Omni-channel and Mobile Support

PTS provides omnichannel support which lends a single view to all customer interactions and conversations. It converges traditional and digital channels in the context of the customer journey, resulting in new revenue opportunities. It empowers customers to start an activity in one channel and transition seamlessly to another.

In a tech support environment, omnichannel support will bring transformational benefits with higher responsiveness to evolving customer needs. The solution will provide a 360-degree view of customer engagement, interactions and effective multi-channel management. Consequently, the customer will get a quicker resolution with a seamless experience across all channels.

Mobile support in PTS will act as an instant digital touchpoint for customers to escalate device issues, optimize services and enable payments. It would help them procure new services through the mobile app resulting in additional revenue for the customer.

In addition, it would also enable customers to stay connected with their customer base and help increase brand recall. It would give customers the privilege to access DIY tools, receive product and firmware updates, information on new product releases, and promotional offers on products and services.

Driven by digital Analytics

Digital analytics helps in determining customers’ next best action. Advanced analytics solutions are used to surface new patterns and influence customers’ purchasing decisions. It provides intelligent insights into customer propensities, resulting in enhanced CX and new business opportunities.

Digital analytics in PTS coherently amalgamates data, processes, analytics tools and visualizations. This enables faster time to insight and enhances the quality and reliability of insights through exploratory and self-learning models. Therefore, it would help to improve business outcomes through data-driven decisions.

A recent Gartner survey reveals that customer experience is fast becoming the new battlefield and the pressing mandate for organizations to achieve sustainable success. A specialized customer support model powered by robust analytics, fuels top-line revenue growth and creates new avenues for profit, apart from nurturing long-lasting customer relationships.


CSS Corp Wins Two Silver Stevie® Awards At The 2020 International Business Awards®

CSS Corp, a new-age IT services and technology support company, today announced that it has won two Silver Stevie® awards at The 17th Annual International Business Awards® under the Covid-19 Response Category. The two Stevies are for the “Most Exemplary Employer” and the “Most Valuable Corporate Response” subcategories. The company was honored for its valiant work over the past months to keep people safe, healthy, employed, and informed. CSS Corp’s exemplary response during the pandemic stands out for ensuring the well-being of communities, customers, and employees.

The company was recognized in two COVID-19 response categories- Most Exemplary Employer and Most Valuable Corporate Response of the year. The company received these awards for its strong people focus that upheld employee satisfaction while enabling business continuity and progress during these unprecedented times.CSS Corp showcased resilience, determination, and fortitude, being one of the first movers in the industry to transition to a 100% productive work from home model at the onset of the lockdown.

The company’s proprietary resilience framework – takes a three-pronged approach, which emphasizes preparedness, stabilization, and embracing the new normal. Despite the challenges posed by the situation, CSS Corp mitigated the challenges and rolled out annual increments, variable pay, and promotions for its workforce in 2020.

CSS Corp’s employee-first culture is built on empowering its employees and boosting their morale and productivity, while constantly ensuring that they are safe and secure, amidst growing uncertainty.

The company’s industry-acclaimed CHEER framework devised specifically for the current scenario placed emphasis on communication, recognition, and engagement as the pillars to support, strengthen, and safeguard employees.

“CSS Corp has always been committed to its people on its journey towards setting new industry benchmarks. While the world was facing an unforeseen pandemic, we made it our mission to ensure that our employees are taken care of. With that in mind, the initiatives and policies devised with specific emphasis on navigating through the current scenario further strengthened our people’s focus and fostered growth within. We are proud to be recipients of the Stevie Awards, as a reflection of the satisfaction and hope that we are striving to drive for our employees,” said Manish Tandon, Chief Executive Officer, CSS Corp.

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Here’s why CSS Corp expects to grow faster than the Indian IT market

Smaller companies that had made investments in technology would have an edge over larger players as the newer digital services they could offer had not yet been hit by commoditisation and consolidation, said CSS Corp’s Nishikant Nigam

Mid-sized IT company CSS Corp expects to grow faster than the market as a smaller-size and technology investments gives it an edge over larger rivals.

The company, which is majority owned by private equity company Partners Group, revamped its management last year bringing in former Infosys executive Manish Tandon as CEO. The $150-million revenue company is targeting 15% revenue growth this year.

Most of the growth is being created by the changes that the new management has put in place.

Observing the current environment and the way the services industry is growing with anemic rates, we have taken several strategic measures around creating a flexible business engagement model with our customers,“ said Nishikant Nigam, chief delivery officer at CSS. “If you look at the last two quarters, after quite a few years of stagnant revenues, we are growing 3% sequentially quarter on-quarter and looking at the pipeline, the growth will continue.

Nigam said smaller companies that had made investments in technology would have an edge over larger players as the newer digital services they could offer had not yet been hit by commoditisation and consolidation.

With all the changes taking place in the industry and the consumption patterns emerging, it is clear that if you are in the right place, with the right tools, you have a huge opportunity. But if you are seeped into legacy as an organisation and you are still looking for large deals, then there is a strong chance you may struggle,“ he said.

While the larger Indian IT companies get on average about 20% of their revenue from digital deals, the majority of their business is facing cost pressures from clients who want to spend less on IT to free up money for investments.

Cloud technologies, automation and a fast-changing technology landscape have also put an end to multi year mega deals that used to drive their growth. This is unlikely to change, according to Nigam.

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IT Vendors gear up for the Digital transformation era!

“Digital is the new normal,” says Nishikant Nigam, EVP & Chief Delivery Officer, CSS Corp. “Digital is prompting organizations across industries to reimagine their customer engagement strategies for better business success and outcomes. To survive in this digital age, companies must view digital as an opportunity, rather than as a threat Instead of fearing away from digital transformation, embracing it will help one evolve. Companies must invest in advanced data analytics solutions that aggregates customer interaction data from various touchpoints, converts that into recognizable patterns and recommends actionable insights resulting in faster issue resolution”.


CSS Corp is now Movate

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