Sydney-based cloud contact centre specialist Cloudwave is launching in New Zealand, offering mid-market firms fast, template-based, low cost deployments of Amazon Connect.
Cloudwave, led by former Cisco and BT executive Mike Powrie, has hired former Vodafone NZ contact centre product owner Gavin Metcalfe to lead its Kiwi charge, most importantly in hiring local staff and recruiting partners.
Cloud contact centre adoption is booming, in part because it is part of the suite of cloud-based tools that have helped businesses to continue operating and serving customers from anywhere during the pandemic.
Cloudwave's business model is to make Amazon Connect affordable and relatively painless to deploy, with no up-front cost, as a service.
Powrie said that around decade ago he was seeing some large contact centre rollouts that had "deeply disturbing" outcomes with cumbersome tools and products that couldn't integrate and were very expensive.
"I just saw the looks on the faces of these CIO, CFOs and contact centre managers and it struck me pretty deeply," he said.
At the same time, companies such as Amazon, Google and Twilio were developing new tools and new ways of doing things that allowed services to be delivered around the business and not the other way around.
Cloudwave rode that new wave since its founding in 2013, doubling its business each year, developing testimonials and winning space on every relevant government panel as an Amazon Web Services (AWS) partner.
All of that would naturally lead Cloudwave to look across the ditch for new opportunities, but Amazon's decision to invest in a local, New Zealand cloud region made the launch a bit of a no-brainer.
"It aligns with Cloudwave's strategy around the SMB [small- to medium-sized business] market which we've tackled successfully," Powrie said. "We've developed some specific products and processes that will remove the cost of entry for SMBs."
The key to the new model was "light touch" automation and templates developed from the battle scars of the past, that enabled quick and easy delivery, he said. Dubbed "Neon", these easy and affordable deployments then allowed client businesses to overlay their new contact centre with voice analytics, biometrics and artificial intelligence (AI) all with the baked in security and resilience of cloud computing.
A growing library of integrations with other business tools further extended the service's capabilities.
Metcalfe, in his second week at Cloudwave, said he saw huge opportunities in the New Zealand SMB sector, which would in the past often have had to walk away from implementations costing $30,000 to $80,000.
"Therefore, they get relegated to not working on their employee or agent experience or their customer experience," he said.
That left them stuck with rigid telephony and contact centre requirements where staff had to come into the office, or they moved into the cloud with only basic functionality.
"Fundamentally, with an economy like NZ and the productivity gap we have and challenges that we have -- the battle for talent -- small and medium businesses really had to make the most with what they've got," Metcalfe said.
Neon gave SMBs access to the value and capability of hyperscale cloud with no upfront costs. From there they could build on that to improve customer experience, even from a 10 or 15 seat contact centre or smaller.
"That's the real opportunity. There are actually a lot of suppliers in the cloud migration space but there's not a lot in the contact centre market," Metcalfe said.
Cloudwave, therefore, offered choice and especially choice as a dedicated, non-telco provider. That choice extended to product as well because Cloudwave was also a Twilio gold partner, the only one in Asia Pacific (APAC).
As employee number one, Metcalfe is already pursuing a dual strategy of building and positioning Cloudwave NZ directly, through hiring expertise, but also through partners and resellers.
"As we talk about those market opportunities, we can augment an existing provider, a cloud migration organisation, with their own contact centre practise," he said,
"As you migrate, what often happens is organisations want to take everything into the cloud, their PBX, contact centre and infrastructure and application payloads, so the opportunity is there for us to work with some of those existing players to provide that full gamut of services to their customers."
There was good interest already from potential partners, Metcalfe said.
Powrie said that because shifting from traditional contact centre to cloud-based ones created a benchmarked 30 per cent saving, there was margin to satisfy and attract partners.
"The more we can productise and make things repeatable, the easier it becomes for partners to join forces with us and sell."
For Metcalfe, government was a key opportunity that would only accelerate as AWS's local region comes online. Local government, often highly cost sensitive, also presented opportunities to offer Neon as a managed service, on a per-user or a consumption licence, to give councils the ability to flex up and down without the risk of unpleasant budget surprises.