July 24, 2018 by Siobhan Climer
Siobhan Climer, Mindsight’s Technology Staff Writer, sat down with Mindsight’s Contact Center Solutions Architect, Kleid Gjataj, to understand his role in building unique solutions for clients. Kleid’s work is a big part of what Mindsight does, offering thoughtfully-crafted and thoughtfully-vetter perspectives to our clients’ toughest technology challenges.
As a kid, Kleid had an inherent curiosity about how things worked, and many household items – from blenders to alarm clocks – disappeared into his laboratory. Today, he solves contact centers’ toughest technical challenges, from application deployment to cloud migration. Kleid gives us insight into how he became an engineer, what his current role is like, and the value of innovative problem-solving in his day-to-day work.
SC: How did you decide to become an engineer? Do you have any mentors or engineers you admire?
KG: As far back as I can remember, I have always had an inherent curiosity about how things worked. There are several pictures of me as a kid taking apart blenders and other electronic devices and trying to fix them. Engineering became a logical extension of that curiosity and has kept my work life interesting.
I was a business major for almost 2 years and then I switched. When I started at my second job, I worked with one of the heads of the company, who was also the main solutions architect of the contact center – very smart, very successful guy. He was one of the people who could talk to the client at the business level and also dive down into the trenches. The kind of engineer who is very rare to find. He was definitely somebody I looked up to.
What made you want to join the Mindsight team?
I was with my old company for over 8 years, and I’ve been with Mindsight for 6. It was a tough decision. The desire to learn something new was the main reason I switched. I worked for a company that sold and serviced the Interactive Intelligence platform. Mindsight was also one the biggest Cisco resellers in the area.
Mindsight has always had a great reputation and once I met with the management team and the owners, I was really impressed by the level of transparency and high standards. The interview process was long and demanding, but it was very fun at the same time. Every interview was a conversation. I remember being invited to a company party as part of my second interview. It was a great way to meet everyone and get a feel for the company culture. People are such an important part of my work here.
What exactly is a “ Contact Center Solutions Architect”? What is your typical day like?
We, as Contact Center Solutions Architects, are responsible for designing Contact Center solutions for our customers. In the Contact Center world, that involves understanding the business needs, understanding the customer journey and creating a customer experience that can be used as a competitive advantage.
I usually start my day replying to emails. I am a big believer in being responsive and getting back to clients quickly. Even if it is just a quick confirmation response, I always try to reply back as quickly as possible. The rest of the day is usually filled with customer meetings, architecting solutions, writing scopes of work, working on projects and learning about new trends and technologies.
Four or five years ago, we had a customer very interested in machine learning. He was really thinking ahead of time. So, I had to research to learn more, figure out what was possible, whether it was something we could take on, and also whether it was something that would truly help that customer.
Our clients drive innovation, and they inspire me to learn new things. Part of our job as IT service providers is to look at the challenges our clients face and create out-of-the-box, innovative solutions that integrate various technologies or fill gaps. We might create a new interface or integration – that is integral to moving the industry as a whole forward, too.
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How did you end up becoming an expert in the contact center?
One of my favorites books – Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell – explores the idea that you need to do something for 10,000 hours before becoming an expert at anything. This hold true for me. My first job out of college was a jack-of-all-trades IT position. Even though I learned a lot in a short period of time, I wasn’t focused on any particular technology or IT practice. I was doing networking, a little bit of voice, everything. In my second job, I worked for a company that sold and serviced a telephony solution geared for IVRs and Contact Centers.
In the last 14 years, I have worked with over 100 companies of various sizes – from 10 to 5000 users – implementing and consulting on different contact center technologies and business processes that improve the customer experience. The customer experience is one of the hottest topics of today and when I can help a client improve that experience and help them achieve greater business success, it makes me feel really good.
What are the current technological challenges in the contact center?
There isn’t a specific technological challenge. Instead, I think technology is advancing way faster than business leaders are adopting it. The industry is in a state of transition. Last time this happened was in the mid-2000s when VOIP was becoming commoditized and everyone was migrating away from legacy contact center and telephony platforms.
For the first time in years, we are seeing two main transitions happening concurrently. We are seeing the push by contact center software manufacturers to move everyone to the cloud, and we are seeing the demand from the end-user for more convenient and effortless customer service.
It is a perfect time for businesses to evaluate their customer journeys and build on a platform that is future proof and doesn’t require major upgrades. It is more of a business decision challenge than a technology challenge. The other thing business leaders must understand is that it doesn’t matter what industry they’re in. It’s going to be disrupted.
In the near future, incumbents are going to be offering similar services in a more convenient way. Look at companies like Netflix and Uber and how they were able to disrupt by providing convenience to customers. Business leaders have to protect against disruptors by re-inventing the customer experience. In the Age of Convenience, as I like to call it, the company offering the most convenient and effortless experience will always win. As a Contact Center Solutions Architect, I find helping contact centers invest in their customers to be a rewarding part of my work.
What impact does the cloud have on the contact center and the IT sector? Do you see that relationship changing?
The cloud has really disrupted what I call the Contact Center Trifecta (Cisco, Avaya and Gensys). In recent years we have seen manufacturers acquire their cloud competitors: Cisco acquired Broadsoft; Avaya acquired Spoken; Genesys acquired Interactive Intelligence; Nice acquired In-Contact. The acquisitions validate the cloud contact center model and fuel innovation in the space.
Cloud offers a very low barrier of entry for any company trying to build a new contact center platform. Only a few years ago, you would need an army of engineers, hardware designers, telecom experts, and developers before you even started developing a telephony product. Now companies like AWS and Twilio provide anyone with the platform required to start creating a contact center solution. We have seen a lot of new players in the space in the last 5 years. I don’t expect that trend to stop.
For business, the cloud platforms have allowed them to be fully in control of their contact center solutions. Most cloud solutions are easy to administer and don’t require much expertise for making the day to day changes
Adoption of contact center cloud solutions will continue to grow. Most contact center manufacturers are rapidly innovating and taking a cloud-first approach. Once the cloud price comes down a bit and cloud features reach parity with premise platforms, the adoption will really take off.
How do you see emerging technology affecting the contact center?
Cloud innovation has really simplified deployment and administration. The combination of Natural Speech, AI, Big Data, and Machine Learning will have the most impact on the customer experience in the next few years. I know that it sounds like I am just throwing some buzzwords together, but it is actually happening much faster than even I initially anticipated.
Intelligent Home Assistants like Alexa and Google Home are a great example of where customer service is headed. Intelligent connected devices controlled via natural speech will play an important role in transforming customer service and eliminating the idea of channels. Our customers have struggled to implement an omnichannel approach to customer service. All the tools are there but there isn’t enough planning and training to really provide an omnichannel.
Think about the process of contacting customer service today. Most customers google the issue that they are experiencing, usually ending up on a company’s website where they have to navigate several knowledge-base or FAQ articles. If they didn’t find what they were looking for, most customers end up in the Contact Us section, dial an 800 number, navigate an IVR, wait on hold, and hopefully talk to a skilled customer representative. A second interaction would usually require the customer to start over with a new rep or a different channel.
That is the best-case scenario … in today’s world.
Emerging technologies will allow us to describe the issue to an intelligent home device connected to the Internet of Things. The AI engine will truly comprehend the intent of the question, look for an answer, take into account past interactions with the company, and only transfer to a real customer service rep if necessary. IOT will also allow intelligent assistants to take care of the mundane tasks, scheduling oil changes, ordering parts, and even scheduling service calls if needed.
I am not saying that all the other channels will cease to exist, but I strongly believe that this new Intelligent Assistant channel will take center stage. The future of the Contact Center Solutions Architect role will require engineers to figure out how to integrate these IoT tools into the Contact Center.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
As a Contact Center Solutions Architect, I love coming up with out of the box type solutions and solving problems. There is nothing more rewarding than coming up with a solution and implementing it in production.
What are you interested in learning more about?
I have been observing how emerging technologies are rapidly changing customer expectations, and how companies are adapting to this new type of customer. I am really interested in learning and coming up with solutions that close the gap between today’s customer service and rapidly changing customer expectations. In the Age of Convenience, I want to find ways to help clients meet their customers’ needs and expectations, provide great service, and solve new challenges.
Contact us today to find unique contact centers from Kleid and our other Contact Center Solutions Architects.
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About The Author
Siobhan Climer, Science and Technology Writer for Mindsight, writes about technology trends in education, healthcare, and business. She previously taught STEM programs in elementary classrooms and museums, and writes extensively about cybersecurity, disaster recovery, cloud services, backups, data storage, network infrastructure, and the contact center. When she’s not writing tech, she’s writing fantasy, gardening, and exploring the world with her twin two-year old daughters. Find her on twitter @techtalksio.