By David Sims
David at firstcoffee d*t biz
The news as of the second cup of coffee this morning, and the music is John Coltrane’s Giant Steps album:
The North American contact center applications markets are poised for “significant growth” in the next few years, and growth rates are “expected to peak between 2008 and 2010,” notes Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Kunal Kakodkar in a recent report.
“Growth in contact center applications will primarily be driven by two factors: an increasing trend amongst customers to move to IP-based technology and the replacement sales of systems sold around Y2K,” the report notes.
As expected, the tier one contact center products vendors lead the aggregated market share. Frost & Sullivan found that Avaya’s “dominant presence” in the ICR market carries forward to the overall numbers and combined with the company’s play in outbound dialing and IVR markets, its revenues exceed the total of its next four closest competitors.
At the same time, “significant merger activity has resulted in relatively niche participants grabbing significant shares of the market,” the report says. NICE Systems’ mid-2006 acquisition of IEX gave it a healthy 4.2 percent overall share — all of it in the agent performance optimization space.
Oracle’s acquisitions of Siebel Systems and PeopleSoft strengthened its play in the North American customer relationship management market, giving it a lion’s share of the MM systems.
However, as the large enterprise segment begins to saturate, there may be a marked stagnation in growth, the report cautions: “Taking this into consideration, vendors should adapt their marketing strategy to target the small- to mid-sized business.”
There will be “tremendous potential for growth in the small- to mid-enterprise sector,” says Kakodkar. “The industry may experience a slowdown till the still-nascent SMB strategies of the large enterprise vendors come to fruition.”
The YMCA of Greater New York chose the Oracle E-Business Suite to revamp its information technology systems and benefit from an integrated suite of software applications, Oracle has announced.
The not-for-profit human services organization plans to deploy Oracle Human Resources Management System, Oracle Grants Accounting, Oracle Financial Management and Oracle Customer Relationship Management to “better cultivate its workforce of 4,400, create more sophisticated fundraising and grant management initiatives and grow its membership,” YMCA officials said.
The YMCA of Greater New York began in 1852 in rented rooms in lower Manhattan. The organization has since grown to be the largest YMCA in the world, serving more than 350,000 New Yorkers each year through 19 full-service branches and 180 program sites throughout the five boroughs of New York City.
Previously, the YMCA of Greater New York relied on a patchwork of proprietary and legacy IT systems including financial management software from Lawson, various applications running on IBM, and a 25 year-old human resources and payroll program written in COBOL, which probably should be donated to the Smithsonian.
The YMCA of Greater New York determined that it required 33 different modules to effectively support all of its business processes.
“When our IT infrastructure started to become a liability, we knew it was time to invest… instead of worrying that our payroll and human resources systems might fail,” said YMCA of Greater New York senior director of technology, John Atwater.
Oracle Applications will enable the YMCA of Greater New York to replace its manual, labor-intensive HR processes, and roll out a new talent management initiative to more effectively attract and retain employees. Oracle iRecruitment will be used to manage “every phase of finding, recruiting, hiring and tracking candidates via a self-service interface,” YMCA of Greater New York officials say.
“When 63 percent of our overall operating expenses is connected to payroll and benefits, we need a mature system that is reliable and rich in functionality,” Atwater noted.
Each year, the YMCA of Greater New York secures approximately 25 million dollars in state and federal grants for an array of offerings ranging from after school programs to transitional housing to substance abuse counseling, requiring substantial reporting efforts back to Grantors.
QuickArrow, a vendor of SaaS Services Automation, has announced the selection of Akamai Technologies, a content and applications vendor, to deliver an application “experience” to their end users, resulting in “increased productivity.”
“Corporate users of software-as-a-service products expect rapid response times from these on-demand applications, no matter where they are located,” according to Jeffrey M. Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies and the founder of the SaaS Showplace.
As a Professional Services Automation vendor, QuickArrow sells its accelerated product to clients paying for the same performance domestic users have. Using the Akamai platform to deliver its on-demand PSA product, QuickArrow has improved the level of performance for its end users, Quick Arrovians say, “decreasing transaction times by 4X in Asia and Europe, and 3X in the Americas.”
Akamai’s Web Application Accelerator service uses Akamai’s globally-deployed platform, comprising approximately 30,000 servers in 70 countries, and a number of techniques including dynamic mapping, route optimization and connection optimization technology.
Cabela’s, a retailer of hunting, fishing, camping and related outdoor merchandise, has announced the adoption of RightNow Technologies on demand customer relationship management for customer service.
Using RightNow products, Cabela’s is able to chat with customers online, “particularly useful in assisting customers during their online shopping experience,” and as a result, the company has reduced the number of abandoned shopping carts, according to the Cabelians.
The RightNow chat feature also lets customer service staff handle several chats at once.
Cabela’s has also built and continuously refines a searchable online knowledge foundation on the company’s Web site. The RightNow product routes Cabela’s incoming customer e-mails to the most appropriate staff member, based on the customer’s needs.
Company officials say with the RightNow system, the company can reply to most customer e-mails within 2.5 hours, and the volume of phone calls to Cabela’s contact center has dropped.
Customers who prefer a bricks-and-mortar experience can use Cabela’s site to find company store locations and hours of operation without contacting the company.
BusinessWeek magazine ranked Cabela’s among its “Top 25 Customer Service Elite,” Fast Company named Cabela’s one of its 15 “Leading Listeners,” and Cisco ranked Cabela’s as the number one online retailer in customer experience in a benchmarking study.
Industry journal Precision Marketing is reporting that Experian has hired away Dunnhumby’s Gareth Mitchell-Jones to take on the position of director of analytics in its integrated marketing division.
Mitchell-Jones previously held the role of UK customer engagement operations director at Dunnhumby. He has also held senior customer relationship marketing positions at HBOS and CitiGroup.
In his new role at Experian, Mitchell-Jones will head up a team focusing on innovations in analytics and data insight. He will report directly to Tony Mooney, consulting and propositions director for the integrated marketing division.