By Dan Berthiaume
Desktop virtualization has been having a strong impact on all types of businesses across the globe, and the large nearshore call center services industry is no exception. Nearshore Americas recently consulted with two experts – Fernando Belfort, Team Leader – Latin America of Frost & Sullivan and Raymond Valentine, CTO of KM2 Solutions LLC – about the current and future state of desktop virtualization on nearshore call center services.
“Virtualization has been experiencing strong growth in the region over the last five years,” said Belfort. Desktop virtualization is a more nascent market compared to server virtualization, but with desktop virtualization companies can effectively adopt consumerization/BYOD policies, reduce total cost of ownership (TCO) and hardware depreciation costs as well as count with a centralized management and secure environment as all data will be stored in servers in data centers and not inside the actual computers, tablets or smartphones.”
Valentine said about half of his company’s call center clients use desktop virtualization. “We are 50 to 75% there,” he said. “As an outsourcer we occasionally run into something with a client that doesn’t lend itself to virtualization, which makes it difficult to deploy virtualization quickly.”
Both Belfort and Valentine agreed that Citrix is a leader in providing desktop virtualization to nearshore call centers. “Citrix has been conquering very interesting contracts with top Latin American call centers during the last three years, with very interesting success case studies with rapid ROIs,” said Belfort. Specific data on use of desktop virtualization in Nearshore offshoring environments is difficult to estimate, but most observers see the market as growing at double digit rates for the next few years.
Desktop Virtualization & Call Centers
Quite simply put, desktop virtualization contributes to the all-important bottom line of a call center by lowering costs in several ways. “Desktop virtualization makes a lot of sense to be used in call centers, as these companies can use ‘thin clients’ to gain access to information with desktop virtualization and have very flexible home-office policies with their employees,” Belfort said.
“We use a few high-end resources (to manage virtualized desktops),” said Valentine. “It improves standardization management and security and reduces costs, letting us pass savings to the client.”
Desktop Virtualization Will Continue to Grow
Borh Belfort and Valentine see a future where desktop virtualization gets more and more popular as a means of delivering nearshore call center services. “Now that we have seen successful case studies, the trend is to see more and more call center players adopting desktop virtualization as a solution to increase employee productivity, decrease overall costs and ultimately gain competitive edge,” said Belfort.
“Desktop virtualization will absolutely continue to grow in popularity with nearshore call centers,” said Valentine. “Thin top clients are very popular with call center agents.” Valentine only expects KM2 Solutions to support traditional PC-based clients in its nearshore call center clients through the end of this year.
Watch Out for Bumps in the Road
Naturally, no IT trend comes out without potential pitfalls, and this is also true for desktop virtualization. Belfort pointed out that network connectivity in Latin America is not always conducive to operating on this kind of platform.
“As this solution is dependent on connectivity, some regions still have poor fixed and mainly mobile infrastructures,” he said. However, Belfort does not see poor network connectivity in some locations as an insurmountable obstacle.
“With LTE and 4G, employees will be able to work from anywhere and have real time access to high definition conferences,” predicted Belfort. “I’m very optimistic that this market still holds very interesting opportunities in the short and medium term.”
Valentine said that insufficient internal client resources also pose a problem for adopting desktop virtualization. “It depends on what the client brings to the occasion,” he said. “It takes time to get through configuration. Sometimes you’re better off putting through something and then picking it up at the refurbish cycle.”