Convergys and Telecom Egypt, IFS, RightNow 8.2, Frost and Sullivan Hosted Contact Center Report

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David Sims
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Convergys and Telecom Egypt, IFS, RightNow 8.2, Frost and Sullivan Hosted Contact Center Report

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is David Bowie's Station to Station album:

Yes, happy Labor Day, in honor of which I, as a free American, am laboring:

Convergys Corporation a vendor of CRM, human resources, and billing services, has announced a new agreement to provide consulting services to Telecom Egypt, the largest fixed line provider in the Middle East and Africa serving over 11 million subscribers.

As part of the agreement Convergys will help implement a business process re-engineering project to enhance Telecom Egypt's billing operations, re-engineering all of them to align with Telecom Egypt's new billing platform.

The contract builds upon the 5-year licensing contract Telecom Egypt signed with Convergys in 2006 to manage the replacement of the existing billing system with Convergys' Infinys rating and billing product.

"The new Infinys product has provided us triple play billing capabilities and the capacity to support new subscribers," said Khaled Marmoush, Telecom Egypt Chief Information Officer. "We realized the importance of reengineering our business processes to use the new billing product and to improve our customer service."

Jean-Herve Jenn, Convergys President, International said re-engineering its billing processes will "further improve Telecom Egypt's ability to support a high volume of transactions, new bundled service offerings, and retain customers."

Telecom Egypt moved its billing to Infinys to lower IT costs through the consolidation and elimination of redundant systems, using a distributed open source platform, and limiting the need to pay for expensive and time-consuming custom system and application development.

The Infinys product also facilitates revenue growth and profitability for Telecom Egypt, Convergys officials say, through its capabilities to support the rapid launch of new convergent service bundles, the roll out of next-generation IP based services, and the application of new business models.

Swedish firm IFS's Middle East office has signed an operational support agreement with a greenfield petrochemical plant which produces ethylene gas and polyethylene plastics, for ERP, CRM and other services.

The $2.4 million contract includes consulting services related to IFS Applications components for maintenance, manufacturing, supply chain management, financials, and human resource management and follows the successful implementation of these components.

The plant is in now in the production phase. As with most large-volume, capital-intensive operations, output and reliability are the dominant determinants of profitability, and the selected ERP system is seen as critical in supporting the operations.

The process industry is one of IFS' seven targeted markets. IFS provides industry-specific functionality for enterprises in chemicals, food and beverage, pulp and paper, and metals segments. IFS Applications for the chemical industry provides support for all critical business processes, including material compliance, batch balancing, recipe management, quality management and demand planning.

The application suite includes a complete asset as well as product lifecycle management product.

IFS customers in the chemicals industry include DuPont, Jotun, Flint Group, Willamette Valley Company, Akzo Nobel and Becker Industrial Coatings.

IFS was founded in 1983 and now has 2,600 employees worldwide. Its component-based ERP software with IFS Applications is now in its seventh generation

Bozeman, Montana's RightNow Technologies has introduced RightNow 8.2, described by company officials as an "enterprise-class, on demand CRM" product which maintains a single "conversation" with a consumer.

"Customers communicate with companies in a variety of ways and it's essential to unify these interactions into a single view," said David Vap, vice president of products, RightNow Technologies. "With this quarter's release, we've enhanced our product by adding new functionality that will improve customer experiences and drive down costs across all the different channels a consumer may use when interacting with an organization."

RightNow 8.2 introduces new enhancements across primary customer interaction channels, including feedback channel bolstered with emotion detection. Such features seek to measure how customers feel about an organization by applying an emotional rating to text-based customer communications. With this knowledge, a company can gauge a customer's mood or feelings and personalize the service this customer receives.

The product also includes new reports that analyze customer feedback, giving companies an opportunity to take swift and appropriate action to ensure optimal customer experiences.

Web channel improvements include a new sitemap, allowing RightNow 8.2 companies to "ensure they are answering customer questions, even if customers are searching on Google or Yahoo," company officials say.

With the sitemap feature, it is possible to index a corporate knowledge base in a way that makes it more accessible to search engines, company officials say: "By exposing knowledge base content to external search engines, companies can remain engaged with consumers, feel confident that customers are getting accurate information and drive more consumers back to their Web site.”

There's also an updated voice channel with personalized routing, which dynamically routes calls and personalizes the caller experience based on information about them -- a "premier" customer could be automatically routed to an agent that can provide highly personalized service.

A recent report from Frost & Sullivan, titled "North American Hosted Contact Center Markets," finds that the markets earned revenues of $191.1 million in 2006 and estimates this to reach $1.2 billion in 2012.

Hosted contact center products in North America are gaining mainstream market acceptance due to the rapid ROI, the ease of deployment, and the need for greater operational flexibility. Hosted contact centers represent a viable alternative to installing or refreshing legacy premise equipment.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (, North American Hosted Contact Center Markets, finds that the markets earned revenues of $191.1 million in 2006 and estimates this to reach $1.2 billion in 2012.

If you are interested in a virtual brochure, which provides the definition and profile of market participants with an overview of the latest analysis of the North American Hosted Contact Center Markets, send an email to Mireya Castilla, Corporate Communications, at mireya.castilla[.] with your full name, company name, title, telephone number, email address, city, state, and country. We will send you the information through email upon receipt of the above information.

“The main factors driving demand for hosted contact centers include flexibility, low cost of entry and scalability,” notes Frost & Sullivan Strategic Analyst Michael DeSalles. “Hosted solutions are an excellent alternative to premise-based solutions and work for contact centers of all sizes.”

Leasing contact center technology allows organizations to deflect the normal high upfront capital expenditure normally associated with premise deployments. This is a very attractive business proposition, particularly for mid and small-sized companies, which seek access to the same advanced technology as large enterprises, but at an affordable price.

Moreover, the market is witnessing a fundamental shift in the contact center agent population from a fixed brick-and-mortar environment to one that “virtualized” and distributed geographically. Organizations want greater flexibility to manage seasonal peaks and valleys. The hosted model supports this movement and offers cost savings that can be significant in a multi-site environment.

However, key challenges for the hosted model include the perceived lack of control over operations and the security of critical customer data. These issues continue to frame end-user concerns.

“Many slow adopters are hesitant to shift the control of the technology outside of the four walls of the contact center,” explains DeSalles. “In this market, end-user education on the benefits of hosted contact center solutions will become essential to drive greater acceptance and uptake.”

Hosted providers have wisely included tenant self-administration capabilities in newer releases of the technology in addition to process/methodologies with enhanced security options. These measures have played a critical role in overcoming reservations related to security and ease-of use following initial deployment.

North American Hosted Contact Center Markets is part of the Contact Centers Growth Partnership Service, which also includes research on the EMEA and Asia Pacific hosted contact center markets. All research included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends that have been evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants. Interviews with the press are available.

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