Juergen Tolksdorf is Senior Director of Marketplace Innovation at Genesys.
Danny: Could you start just by setting the scene and talking about your own role and the way that sits in the relationship between Genesys and CardEasy?
Juergen: Sure. I’m responsible for managing the technology partnership and the AppFoundry program from a program point of view. I’m less focused on the day-by-day partner management and more focused on the strategic development of the marketplace experience, and that in combination with our cloud platform. Since Genesys heavily pivoted to a cloud platform-based company, we are looking for opportunities to provide the best cloud platform experience for our customers and third parties, so I’m focusing on what can we do to increase customer lifetime value, and what can we do together with partners such as CardEasy to enable them to monetize their solutions on our platform.
Danny: We spoke a bit last time about the cloud, and you talked about one of the issues being a lack of trust hindering movement into the cloud. How have you found that that’s developed over the last three years?
Juergen: I think it has developed drastically. It’s almost a shame to say it, but the COVID pandemic has resulted in a massive push into the cloud. COVID has changed the world completely in terms of how we do business with each other. Everybody is in video meetings all day long. Digital collaboration is in a completely different place now compared to three years ago.
The acceptance of cloud in businesses is increasing simply because it is less risky now for businesses to have contact center agents in their home offices answering incoming calls or dealing with digital transactions. However, businesses need to make sure that they comply with Schrems II and GDPR especially in the European Union and that is something which is challenging, especially for smaller companies coming out of the United States because they have a different view of data privacy management. That is something where Genesys is drastically evangelizing, especially with partners from outside the European Union.
Danny: Can you talk a bit more about the intersection between those three issues? The cloud and GDPR and data management. What’s the tension there?
Juergen: The issue with data management for lots of smaller companies is not that they don’t care but they often don’t have it as a high priority. What generally happens is that they are in an opportunity with a potential customer and the customer asks them if they’re GDPR compliant or what kind of data processing agreements they have in place and it’s that which pushes them towards learning more about how to be compliant. A lot of smaller companies, particularly those not in the European Union, find themselves having to learn about GDPR and Schrems II from scratch.
Most of them realize that they’re not necessarily compliant even though their data is being managed in an AWS center somewhere in Europe, because the staff managing their platforms are still based in India or in the United States or somewhere else. That is definitely not Schrems II compliant, and therefore they have issues closing deals.
Danny: When we talked before about the cloud, one of the issues is people were perceiving it as being very risky and it was safer to keep everything to yourself and not use the cloud. You’ve just said that’s turned around the other way now and people are saying, “Actually, being in the cloud is less risky now that everybody’s working from home and so on.” Is that right? Do you think that perception is turned around?
Juergen: Yes, that’s true in a lot of industries but not in all of them. Sectors such as banking and insurance tend to be more nervous of the cloud still. They are often very traditionally managed with a pretty large IT environment. They can be very protective about who’s going to manage their infrastructure and nervous about what a move to the cloud might mean. Sometimes, and this is just my personal view, I think this nervousness also stems from a wrong perception that moving to the cloud will put people’s jobs at risk.
When I talk to auditors who are auditing pharmaceutical processes and making sure that they are compliant with things like HIPAA, they’re saying, “Auditing an infrastructure which is hosted on AWS is a 10-minute task because AWS has very compliant documents which are the same in each region in which Amazon operates. They make sure that everything is secured. I don’t need to worry about it. I just take the document from Amazon, attach it to my report, and I’m done with it.”
The difference when compared to auditing something like a pharmaceutical process, for example how certain pills are being made, is significant. The auditor needs to go back to the very first system which might be a laptop where something is stored locally then sent via email. It’s a lengthy process compared to having everything managed out of the cloud out of one system. That is a huge differentiator.
I think in the long run we will see more and more businesses moving to the cloud because simply there is no reason not to do it if it’s Schrems II-compliant and GDPR-compliant. From a cost point of view, it is way too expensive to manage locally.
Danny: You touched on the pandemic as being one of the main impetuses behind this move. What are the other effects of the pandemic you’ve seen that are relevant to your business?
Juergen: For the last ten years or so we’ve been hearing that call volumes are going to decrease whilst digital volumes are going to increase. We’ve see lots of new competitors coming up in the market, focused only on digital, who see Genesys as being primarily a provider for voice services, which it really isn’t. But in fact, we haven’t seen huge a decrease in call volumes so voice is still hugely important to organisations, in part because of the pandemic and services such as those Genesys provides are as important as ever. While being prominent with digital channels already, with our recent acquisition of Bold360, Genesys expands its capabilities in Digital Experiences drastically.
We’ve also seen a massive increase in video calling simply because more complex consultancy kind of discussions are now being managed through video. Especially in the banking sector, we see this, and it’s continuously increasing. I’m not quite sure if this is going to stay, but I’m 100% sure that people appreciate the fact that they can interact with businesses without going into the branch office.
Danny: So to what extent do you think this is going to be a permanent switch?
Juergen: Providers of office space are now looking for new uses for their buildings and at the same time people are thinking about how to adapt their homes to optimize them for working from home. There’s a perception that from an effectiveness point of view, I’m not less productive working from home compared to working in the office, I’m actually more productive. However, people still want to have social contact with each other and that’s why offices are still important. Being together in one room, rambling and whiteboarding, and stuff like that. You can’t do that in a home office session or on a video call.
That’s why I think that a portion of it will get back to the office, but a huge portion will also stay in home office. I’m really curious about what the impact is going to be ultimately on airlines and the travel industry, in particular for business travel.
Danny: I wonder about people’s shopping behavior as well and the extent to which the switch to things like online grocery shopping is likely to be permanent?
Juergen: Online shopping is extremely successful. But at the same time, there is a concern about the environmental impact of pollution due to delivery services and things like that. Amazon just kicked off an initiative to say, “Hey, can you wait for this package for a few days so we can just package everything in one package and save the pollution.” From my point of view, this is one of the major things which is speaking against it.
Danny: What effect has all of this had on your business?
Juergen: We had a successful 2020. We are going to increase our cloud business drastically this year as well. We already shifted our entire business to cloud. Genesys is focusing on cloud for a number of reasons. Firstly, because businesses are moving to the cloud in general. Secondly, because a lot of our competitors don’t have the perfect answer to it. Thirdly, because Genesys is well known in the market as the undisputed leader of contact center management, customer experience and digital experience management. It is not just about having the right software in place, but also about having the right knowledge and experience to be able to advise customers effectively. It’s not just about the technology. We have the right technology focusing on the future, focusing on cloud, but we also have the right people in place who are able to consolidate businesses.
With the cloud, we are now able to not just focus on the large-scale businesses of the world, but we are also able to simply enable our services for very small businesses. Genesys is focusing not just on a direct business but also selling a lot of our software through resellers. That enables us, as well as our partners on the AppFoundry, to expand their reach to a huge market.
Danny: Let’s talk a bit about contact centers. What kind of other issues have you seen with contact centers as a result of the push to working from home?
Juergen: There are some issues in terms of infrastructure management, making sure people are on time, people are not getting distracted, all these kinds of different things to make sure people are actually working. Related to that there’s an issue with how best to manage recruitment, onboarding and enablement remotely – making sure that people are enabled to do their job on a daily basis. In normal circumstances when you get into the office and start your job, you have somebody who is sitting next to you, listening in to your call, talking to you after the call, making sure everything works. Now, imagine that in the virtual world; it’s just more complex to do.
Especially in this crisis, people have a lot of competing pressures. Childcare is an example. You have a screaming child, you have somebody who doesn’t want to do their homework, and you’re still trying to do your job. That requires way more flexibility from businesses to assist their staff to make sure that they can do their work. It’s not like in the ’90s anymore where the focus was purely on work and productivity. Now there’s a recognition that family is important too. That’s the shift businesses need to factor in, and that in combination with home office is a huge stretch for some businesses.
That’s why Genesys is focusing on workforce engagement management, making sure that agents are able to manage their work, manage their shifts. Making sure that they can plan in advance to take childcare into account and other things like that. This is a shift we see in the contact center space, and that is something which is a huge shift for contact center management going forward.
Danny: We’ve talked about data protection; we’ve talked about cloud. Anything else you think is worth mentioning?
Juergen: PCI compliance is a critical factor. Businesses who take payments or perform credit card clearing and things like that need to make sure that they are PCI compliant. Consumers don’t want to give their credit card number to contact center agents. That’s certainly something which is not going to fly anymore, so PCI compliant vendors need also to focus on providing the right technology to simplify the customer experience and to ultimately make sure that an opportunity for a merchant to take payment is not going to be prohibited due to a complex process. This is where providers like CardEasy which enable seamless and secure payments across multiple channels have a big advantage.
The integration of CardEasy and Genesys Cloud is a great one to move forward, and customers should actually try it out, get it up and running. I truly believe that this is a great solution to secure payments across voice and digital channels.