| Contact Center/CRM Views and Analysis

May 2005

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Verizon To Team With Genesys To Offer Hosted IP Contact Center Services

May 31, 2005

I think it's in the nature of many business people to not trust software vendors. It's easy to get confused over the proliferation of features and benefits, and many companies end up throwing in the towel rather than making a bad decision, paricularly if they've been burned before.

But casual observation leads me to believe that companies are more willing to trust their service providers, particularly if they have had a successful relationship with that service provider in the past.

Verizon and Genesys today announced a plan to bring hosted contact center services to customers via a partnership, with Verizon offering Genesys' IP contact center platform to the customers already using Verizon services.

SAP Shows Up In The Same Prom Dress As Siebel

May 18, 2005

Oops...it's always amusing to watch two large companies in a competitive space react to one another like two teenage girls showing up at the prom in the same poufy strapless gown. Hard on the heels of SAP's announcement about the next generation of mySAP CRM, Siebel felt the need to issue a statement. I faithfully reprint it¬ below:

"Siebel Systems is the market leading provider of customer-facing solutions. The vast majority of leading companies in vertical markets such as Life Sciences, High Tech Manufacturing, Communications, Government, and Financial Services use Siebel for their customer-facing systems," said David Schmaier, Executive Vice President at Siebel Systems.

SAP Announces mySAP CRM Update At SAPPHIRE '05

May 18, 2005

German software giant SAP today announced it has released the newest version of its mySAP Customer Relationship Management, the company's offering to the contact center/customer care industry. Coinciding with SAP's enormous user conference, SAPPHIRE '05, in Boston, the product release includes details on the update from the previous mySAP.

Release is below.

TES

A Great IVR Story

May 17, 2005

In response to my column in the May issue of Customer Interaction Solutions called "Clean Up In The Self-Service Aisle," I got a response today from a reader who relates the following story:

There's an unverifiable (for a reason) story about a call center manager whose boss directed him: "We're still getting too low a percentage of calls handled by the IVR. Fix it."

His solution?

Siemens Continually Recognizes Fertile Ground With SMBs

May 16, 2005

Siemens today announced it's launching Version 6.5 of its popular HiPath ProCenter Agile and ProCenter Standard apps today. I had the pleasure of meeting with¬ Al Baker, VP of product management for Siemens Global eCRM Solutions, in TMC's office last week. I admire the HiPath ProCenter Agile product (and Siemens) for launching essentially dual versions of this product: one product (Agile) was designed to make the functionality of HiPath ProCenter available to the SMB market (small to medium-sized businesses). This is a step that has not been taken by many of Siemens notable competitiors.

What Is "Homeshoring"?

May 13, 2005

I know...this industry doesn't need another buzzword...it's already got more of them than the average teenage girl in a shopping mall. But this buzzword, besides being somewhat geographically improbably, is interesting.

"Homeshoring" refers to the practice that some call centers are¬ implementing to prevent being forced to send jobs overseas to save money. It involves, as one might imagine, the use of carefully selected home agents connected to all the call centers' systems and software through delivery on an IP-enabled platform.

Companies Readying For The Leap To Speech

May 13, 2005

Speech technology is a funny thing...its potential is great, it certainly hasn't suffered from a lack of hype, but many companies are STILL dragging their feet when it comes to even experimenting with speech. According to Benchmark Portal, these companies may have reached the end of their dithering and are ready to make a commitment: According to their research, fifty percent of companies currently not using speech are considering implementing it within the next year. We're looking forward to see the market heating up.

TES

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Preliminary Results Indicate that Fifty Percent of Call Centers Not Currently Speech-Enabled Plan¬ on Implementing Speech within the Next Year

SANTA CLARA, Calif., May 11, 2005 -- Edify¬ģ Corporation, a leading global supplier of voice and speech solutions, today announced it has joined forces with Purdue University‚Äôs Center for Customer-Driven Quality to determine best practices for deploying speech recognition systems.

Ready For Do-Not-Fax Legislation?

May 12, 2005

Federal do-not-fax legislation goes into effect July 1st of this year. Are you ready? Are you sure? (You thought you were ready for the Teleservices Sales Rule, too, remember.)¬ Just as with previous do-not-call laws, this one is far-reaching (and doesn't exempt you from state do-not-fax lists) and comes¬ neatly packaged¬ with large fees per violation.

Some Stats From The Top 50 Teleservices Agencies Ranking

May 12, 2005

It's that time of year: time to¬ crunch the numbers to prepare for the Global Call Center Outsourcing Summit on May 25th in Dallas at the Westin Park Central Hotel,¬ the event during which TMC and Customer Interaction Solutions magazine hold a dinner event to honor the Top 50 Teleservices Agencies companies and the recipients of the MVP (Marketing Via Phone) Quality Award.

I'm an editor, but I usually look forward to this time of year: it's nice to work with numbers sometimes. Numbers are absolute: they have no versions, innuendo or verb declensions.

Since we're the only company that conducts a ranking of this nature (companies are ranked by their size, as determined by number of billable minutes for a one-year period), we're the only organization that has a complete¬ view of¬ both the status quo and the growth of this¬ industry.

The Shifting Speech Technologies Industry

May 10, 2005

The speech technology industry is changing shape, though I'm sure that's not news to most people in the contact center industry. With yesterday's announcement of the merger of Nuance and ScanSoft, and the below announcement of cooperation between LumenVox and Nuance 8.5, we can presume that we haven't seen the last of the shifting of both the speech behemoths and the smaller speech application innovators.

Industry insight tells us that the market as a whole has been slow to adopt speech. We can presume that a lot of companies have¬ been scared off by what they perceive to be the tech-intense process of creating dialogs and scripts...companies foresee themselves as having to hire nine engineers just to maintain their speech applications.

ScanSoft & Nuance To Merge

May 9, 2005

Anyone else been wondering what's up with ScanSoft lately? Now, we have an answer. This merger will create the largest and most powerful¬ speech technology organization in the world. Competitors, put your running shoes on.

MIT Student To Time Travellers: Party On, Dudes

May 6, 2005

Maybe the following¬ story¬ will give you visions of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, complete with George Carlin in a phone booth¬ in cool sunglasses, like it did me. Then again, maybe not.

An MIT student is this weekend hosting a "time traveler convention" on the Boston campus of the elite science and technology school. (It's at 8:00 pm¬ tomorrow night,¬ if you're a time traveller with no weekend plans, incidentally.)¬ 

Death To The Dancing Paperclip

May 5, 2005

Has anyone else noticed that with each new rendition of Windows, particularly in MS Word, the "help" factor (otherwise known as the "idiot" factor)¬ keeps getting ratcheted up? MS Word used to be a very basic, stripped¬ down¬ word processing solution. That was great. We thought for ourselves.

Financial Services Offshoring On The Rise

May 5, 2005

According to a report announced this morning by Datamonitor, "Global sourcing in European and North American Financial Services,"¬ financial services companies are in part driving the boom growth numbers in offshore outsourcing. Both North American and European financial services providers (particularly U.K. and Scandinavian companies) are increasingly sending core competency processes (mortgage processing, insurance underwriting, claims processing)¬ offshore. Part of the reason, according to the report, is the increasing flexibility to do so that today's enterprise technologies provide for.

Data Is A Plural Word

May 4, 2005

Unless you're referring to the opalescent green dude from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

This is an error made by so many people in business that today, using the word correctly sounds "odd." It may sound odd, but the word "data" is plural. The singular form of the word is "datum."

Examples:

EADS TELECOM North America Changes Name To Aastra Intecom

May 3, 2005

EADS Telecom, a player in the enterprise telephony and contact center software market, announced today that its North American commercial information networks division has changed its name to Aastra Intecom in the United States.

The company has stated that the¬†name combines Aastra, which markets and sells telecommunications products globally, with the Intecom name, reflecting a historically strong¬†U.S. reputation that includes several industry ‚Äúfirsts‚ÄĚ.¬† (Intecom was the operating name for the entity for more than 22 years.)

For more information, visit www.aastraintecom.com.

TES

Hosted CRM Plus A Little More

May 3, 2005

Hosted CRM provider NetSuite recently announced its release of NetSuite CRM+, a full-service, hosted-delivery CRM product with some extras.

Unless you've been living in a closet for the past year, you will have noticed that the hosted CRM market is heating up considerably. Try reading the business and technology news on a daily basis without coming across information about Siebel or Salesforce.com, plus smaller players such as Contactual, Salesnet or NetSuite.

NetSuite, aware it's operating in a busy market, launched CRM+ to be a little more than many customers might expect.

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