Increasingly, organizations in both the public and private sectors are taking a hard look at cloud-based services. But while they are titillated by the cost savings and efficiency provided by such services, their enthusiasm often is tempered by concerns regarding data access and security, the latter of which is critical to retail, financial and insurance enterprises that  handle millions of transactions daily that involve highly sensitive information, notably credit-card data.

Echopass, a Pleasanton, Calif.-based provider of cloud-based contact-center solutions, recently enhanced the security of its offerings, both as a response to such concerns and to the evolution of its customer base.

Rob Farris, the company’s chief marketing officer, said that the value proposition for cloud-based services is undeniable, noting that online retailer Overstock.com has saved about $26 million during the five years it has used Echopass infrastructure.

 “That’s a big number,” Farris said during an interview with Urgent Communications. “Half of that number came from infrastructure savings in moving to the cloud, because of the ability with the cloud to scale effectively, to where they are only billed for what they use.

“So, they didn’t have to put in another $3-4 million worth of infrastructure and sit on it for nine months of the year without usage, and only use it during the Christmas period.”

The rest of the savings came from the Echopass customer-engagement organization, which saved Overstock.com a substantial amount of headcount while improving its customer-satisfaction ratings, according to Farris.

“They went from number five in the space to number two,” he said. “All in all, it was a pretty good win for them.”

Another customer, Denver-based Outrigger—the second-largest hotel management firm in the Pacific, according to Farris—leveraged Echopass to revamp its approach to contact-center services. Today, the company has no brick-and-mortar contact agents; all work remotely—many from their homes—and are scattered from Tokyo to Hawaii to Denver.

 “Eventually, after they put the infrastructure in and got all of their policies and procedures down, and recruited the right kinds of individuals, they moved 100% of their workforce,” Farris said, adding that Outrigger has been working with Echopass for about eight years.

Obviously, a big cost savings was realized because Outrigger no longer has contact-center infrastructure to own, operate and maintain, and it is not spending money on building leases. But perhaps the biggest benefit from unshackling from the brick-and mortar environment is that it opened a worldwide market for contact-center personnel that tends to stick around, because they like the flexibility of working from home, Farris said. An added benefit is that they often work longer hours, because they don’t have to commute.

 “They found that they were getting a higher-educated worker, by providing that flexibility. These are people who often are part-time or re-entering the workforce,” Farris said. “They can log into the system for three hours in the morning, go pick up their kid at school, and then come back and log back on.”