IVR Migration - The 'end of life' opportunity

Many organisations have come to a critical watershed with their self-service strategy: existing IVR platforms are out of date, out of support and are now struggling to respond to the changing needs of the business and its customers. Even for those organisations that are not facing specific ‘end-of-life’ or support issues, the increased pace of deployment of ‘next generation’ IVR (e.g. VoiceXML media servers) means competitors are improving their customer service in ways that legacy systems cannot keep up with.

So, although this represents a challenge it is also the moment of opportunity to grasp next-generation IVR and kick-start customer-satisfaction with the advanced capabilities that it brings. 

A significant proportion of the achievable benefits of next-generation IVR are attributable to enhanced run-time capabilities (such as those provided by Vicorp’s xMP SCEE) of the platform to enable virtualisation, multi-tenanting, application re-use and increased utilisation. These powerful concepts harness the underlying flexibility of web technology to deliver greater service and more functionality with less computing infrastructure.

Figure 1 outlines the overall migration journey for the business and the route to achieving a genuine uplift in business benefit; which is a function of not just the underlying IVR platform technology, but also the enablers and capabilities that are built on top of it.

Safe and sound

The question is, of course, how does an organisation adopt next-generation IVR and, in particular, migrate from existing legacy platforms to a next generation platform without any business disruption or detriment to customer experience? Getting this wrong could be disastrous for business, brand and reputation, and so it is essential that a migration plan is realistic and achievable and mitigated against risk.

In fact, it is achievable with a combination of rigorous planning, risk management and a few best practices from the Telco world.

Vicorp has devised a 9-point strategy for the successful and painless migration of IVR estates that are fundamental to the business operation:

  1. ‘Stepping Stones’ approach: Through a series of manageable ‘gates’ there is an ‘undo’ option as well as a route forwards. This provides genuine risk mitigation.
  2. Leveraging corporate programmes: Existing corporate programmes typically provide advantageous features and services, such as web-services mid-tier.
  3. Maximising use of existing assets: Extract maximum useful working life out of existing platforms, prior to ultimate decommissioning.
  4. Intelligent ‘lift and shift’ of hardware: should geographically distributed IVRs be virtualised or centralised?
  5. Virtualisation: Vicorp xMP allows next-generation media servers to be virtualised – that is, to run any application regardless of physical location. This greatly increases flexibility and effective platform capacity.
  6. Professional services: It is vital that existing self-service experiences and retention rates are not adversely impacted, but maintained and improved. This requires skilled professional services activity.
  7. Intelligent porting: Applications that need to be re-written should incorporate intelligent improvements rather than replace like-with-like (one of the key pitfalls of ‘automated conversion’).
  8. Opening the door to advanced services: It is not feasible to develop sophisticated speech applications in the same way as traditional simple DTMF applications. The right service creation and execution environment (SCEE) must be selected. It also provides a natural entry-point for the adoption of web services and wider integration into emerging enterprise business functions (sometimes called the enterprise service business).
  9. Write once, run anywhere: Separation of the application from the Media Server(s) and the ability to run the same application against any media server (a feature of Vicorp’s SCEE) protects the application investment and gives flexibility over procurement/sourcing strategy as well as long-term protection against changes in preferred vendor. It also reduces the overheads of managing multiple code-bases for the same application.
Putting the migration strategy into action

This strategy can be used as the basis for formulating a multi-step migration plan that takes full account of existing and new capability with a view to:

  • Developing a safe, multi-step migration programme that poses no risk to existing customer experience and performance levels. Protecting existing investments and maximising their ongoing use.
  • Parallel running of old and new systems to reduce risk and prove the new technology and applications.
  • Replacing old and building new voice applications in a truly portable way that protects them from future infrastructure or vendor changes and encapsulates them as corporate intellectual property assets for the long term.
  • Identifying and designing re-usable application componentry.
  • Demonstrating the improved service performance of ‘intelligently ported’ applications.
  • Minimising cost and operational complexity (future cost) of the next-generation platform and architecture.

Vicorp's consulting services are positioned to help organisations understand the business, technology and customer impact of implementing such strategies. Our professional services team design and deploy the voice applications and infrastructure that deliver tangible benefits and business returns. Our world-leading service creation toolkit gives Vicorp and its clients a unique advantage in the rapid porting and delivery of high performance, truly portable voice applications and re-usable components.

 

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