How businesses can become more nimble and secure by moving to the cloud

Today’s business landscape is more dynamic than ever before. Organizations are being inundated with data, generated by an ever-increasing number of connected devices and systems. According to IDC, volume of data worldwide will grow ten-fold to 163ZB by 2025, and the majority of that will be created and managed by enterprises.

Along with this increased volume of data comes an increased risk of data breaches. More than 446 million records containing sensitive consumer data were exposed in data breaches in 2018, a 126 percent increase over the previous year, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center.

On top of these challenges, businesses are also subject to an ever-growing list of complex regulatory requirements and industry standards meant to help protect sensitive data and strengthen consumer privacy. From the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), businesses must constantly keep abreast of updates and amendments to stay compliant and keep their data secure.

All these challenges coalesce to mean that, regardless of what industry you operate in, organizations must become nimbler and more flexible in order to stay ahead of fast-changing data security threats and evolving regulations.

How the cloud can help

To address this dynamic landscape and better secure their highly regulated data, more organizations are beginning to migrate key parts of their business and IT infrastructure to the cloud. According to Gartner, expenditure in enterprise IT on cloud-based offerings is increasing at almost triple the rate of spending on more traditional, non-cloud solutions, The analyst firm also found that more than $1.3 trillion in IT spending will be affected, directly or indirectly, by the shift to the cloud by 2022.

As an example, many organizations have been able to successfully strengthen data security and ease compliance with PCI DSS by moving the payments systems used in their contact centers to the cloud. As the central hub for all customer interactions, enterprise contact centers process and store tremendous amounts of sensitive consumer data and personally identifiable information (PII).

Even in today’s increasingly digital age, many consumers still pick up the phone and call a business when they want to make changes to their account, make a payment on an outstanding bill, ask a question or make a purchase. As a result, contact centers’ systems and networks are often prime targets for hackers looking to acquire consumer payment card data and PII.

By making the shift to a cloud-based payments solution, enterprise contact centers can keep sensitive payment card data out of their IT infrastructure completely, thus reducing the risk of a data breach. For example, cloud-based dual-tone multi-frequency (DTMF) masking solutions allow callers to enter their payment card data using their telephone keypad, while replacing the DTMF tones with flat tones so they cannot be deciphered by the agent on the line, captured on call recordings or overheard by a nefarious eavesdropper. Because a cloud-based solution sits between the telephony carrier and the contact center’s network systems, the payment card data is kept out of the contact center infrastructure entirely and is securely routed directly to the payment processor.

By moving payments into the cloud, contact centers can dramatically reduce the amount and types of sensitive data they process or store – making themselves less of a target for hackers and dramatically reducing the scope of PCI DSS. Moreover, by moving their payments and telephony infrastructure to the cloud, organizations can reduce costs by eliminating the capital expenditure related to hardware and enable greater productivity across their IT teams by offloading the task of maintenance and updates to third-party service providers.

Cloud-based payments solutions for contact centers provide unmatched flexibility, scalability and nimbleness that on-premises deployments simply cannot compete with. Here are just a few benefits of the cloud:

Greater resiliency and reliability – depending on the design of the telephony solution, organizations can often create a redundancy in the telephony equipment, resulting in a fail-safe or back up should the main system ever fail. Additionally, because many cloud solutions are able to accommodate thousands of customers at once, these platforms offer a greater level of reliability at a lower cost than organizations could typically afford independently.

Geo-redundancy – in the same vein as greater resiliency and reliability, many cloud providers have geo-redundant data centers, resulting in an additional level of backup in the rare case that the main system fails.

Scalability – contact centers often experience extreme variances in the volume of calls and transactions depending upon seasonality, such as the holiday shopping sprees in retail or the open enrollment period in health insurance. Cloud solutions enable contact centers to quickly and easily scale up their usage needs on-demand, without requiring additional investment in on-premises hardware.

Cost control – tightly tied to flexible scaling options, cloud solutions often result in better cost control and allow companies to take advantage of the economies of scale offered, versus having to invest in their own on-premises infrastructure. This ability to save on up-front hardware costs is important for fast-growing companies.

Less equipment – depending on the deployment option, companies migrating their services or operations to the cloud will have little to no equipment to maintain, allowing their IT and infrastructure teams to focus on other, more strategic projects

Quick and easy implementation – unlike on-premises options that often require a lengthy and complex implementation process, cloud solutions can drastically reduce the time and effort needed to get up and running.

Easier software updates and bug fixes – because cloud solutions are most often managed by service providers, companies can relieve themselves of the burden of having to manually update software and patch bugs.

Always remember, security first – cloud or no cloud

Some organizations might be hesitant to migrate important functions such as IT or payments systems to the cloud because of security concerns. However, it’s important to remember that the challenge is not in the security of the cloud itself. In most cases, data breaches are the result of a user – not the cloud provider – that has failed to follow or enforce appropriate security policies and controls. If an organization enacts proper security policies and trains its employees on the importance of following them, it should have no worries about cloud solutions adding security risks.

That said, security should always be a top priority for all businesses, whether they are using on-premises or cloud-based solutions providers. For that reason, it’s important to carefully select solutions providers who adhere to the highest security and compliance standards. When choosing between cloud solution providers for your contact center, look for ones who have achieved industry accepted certifications like ISO 27001, PA-DSS and PCI DSS Level 1 certification in the case of payment service providers.

As organizations struggle to keep pace with an increasingly dynamic business landscape, a deluge of sensitive data and ever-more-complex regulatory requirements, they will find that migrating some of their critical systems and functions to the cloud provides the nimbleness and flexibility they need. Cloud solutions can help optimize costs and provide scalability, while at the same time enabling strong security and easier compliance.