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Customer Interaction Solutions
October 2006 - Volume 25 / Number 6

A Moment With CosmoCom’s New President Of CosmoCom America,
Ben Eisner

By Tracey E. Schelmetic
Editorial Director, Customer Inter@ction Solutions

 
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Unified customer communications provider CosmoCom (www.cosmocom.com) recently announced that Ben Eisner has joined the company as President of CosmoCom Americas, a new position. He will lead all of CosmoCom’s operations in the region, which includes North America and CALA (Central America and Latin America).

Eisner is a veteran of the industry; he brings more than 25 years of executive-level telecom industry experience to the position, which CosmoCom created to support the rapid growth in demand for all-IP contact center products in the Americas region.
Recently, I was able to catch up with Eisner to get a feel for his outlook on the present and future of the IP contact center industry.

TS: What in your background uniquely prepared you for this role? 
 
BE: Whenever I step into a new position, I always have the feeling that EVERYTHING in my background was preparing me for just exactly this new opportunity. And I certainly feel that way about joining CosmoCom now. I’ve been involved in the telecom product space for more than 25 years, and in the past decade, I’ve focused exclusively on the contact center. I always like to be in a high-impact position, so I have been drawn to smaller organizations, or to smaller divisions of larger companies where I had a lot of responsibility to drive growth. I’m both compatible with and complementary to the CosmoCom team. I’m compatible by background, experience and business philosophy. I’m complementary because my strength and greatest successes have always been in the U.S. market, and that is where CosmoCom is looking for me to make a difference. Although the region I am taking over has been growing right along with the whole company at a good pace, it accounts today for less than 50 percent of the company’s total revenue. CosmoCom wants to see the Americas bringing at least half of its total revenue. My personal goal is 60 percent, and I don’t see any reason that I won’t achieve it.

TS: What do you think of the  Telephony@Work (News - Alert) purchase by Oracle, and what does it mean to CosmoCom, if anything?

BE: Oracle’s purchase of Telephony@Work is one of many signs that we are reaching the inflection point in IP contact center technology and in IT/telecom convergence, related to both the traditional premise-based space and the hosted service space. It’s a disruptive sign and a harbinger of growth, aggressive competition and, we think, very good things for CosmoCom.

TS: How do you perceive the market has evolved over the years?

BE: Every new entrant to an established market has to find a foothold, grow that initial presence and leverage it to expanded overall market penetration. With CosmoCom, that foothold was the shared platform hosted contact center. With its multi-tenancy and tenant self-administration, CosmoCom had a distinct advantage in that space, and it has leveraged that advantage into a commanding presence in more top-tier telcos globally than any other company. The focus now is on growing that part of the market, which the market seems to be encouraging, and on penetrating neighboring market segments. For us, the neighboring segments are found in using the service provider as a more traditional channel for premise-based systems, in addressing the telcos’ own customer care needs, and in the trend for enterprises to adopt an internal services model. This has been an exciting story up to now, and my role is to make sure that CosmoCom develops these strategies to their maximum potential in the Americas region.

I would also like to mention the growing trend toward unified communications. Unified communications is a term that embodies the evolution of communication technology over the past decade. We like to point out that much of the focus under the name of unified communications is really about internal communication, employee to employee. Let’s call it unified enterprise communications or “UEC.” There is a whole other area that has evolved parallel to UEC, and that is unified customer communications or “UCC.” UCC is a great way of describing what CosmoCom has been doing from the beginning — applying the unifying power of IP to the contact center and the whole world of customer interaction. Our message is that true unified communications need to address both the internal world of UCC and the customer-facing world of UCC. In other words, UC = UEC + UCC. Part of what this means is that the contact center is no longer limited to four walls, not even to four virtual walls. Customer interaction is a core mission of every business. Recognizing this, companies are expanding the intelligent routing capabilities of the contact center to reach more and more of their knowledge workers. This is great news for customers and good news for the contact center industry as well. CosmoCom has shown a great deal of leadership in this space, both in its product capabilities and in its disruptive “flex” pricing model that makes it economically feasible to implement this approach where, literally, the whole company and everyone in it is part of the call center.

TS: What are the drawbacks to hosting?

BE: Hosting is not for everyone, and that is exactly why the hosted service providers are realizing that they also need to offer the traditional premise-based model, preferably with the same technology. We call this “channel convergence.” Sometimes it’s a hybrid approach that wins the day. Some of CosmoCom’s service providers have succeeded by offering a rapidly deployed hosted service that evolves over time to a premise-based system. Since both utilize the same technology platform, the evolution is smooth and relatively painless.

TS: Does CosmoCom have any plans to go public/get acquired?

BE: CosmoCom is a venture capital-backed company, and VC investors are always interested in having an exit. But as a growing and profitable entity with a strong balance sheet, CosmoCom is not under internal pressure to create a liquidity event. And CosmoCom’s investors, many of whom I met with before joining the company, are mature VCs that have the admirable traits of patience and confidence, so they are not creating such pressure either. We think we are on the right course to develop a great deal of value in the company, and we believe the market will inevitably recognize and respond to that value appropriately.

TS: Where do you see hosted contact center solutions in three and five years’ time?

BE: Thank you for asking about three and five years in the future. I feel confident in giving you these forecasts, because no one will check them or even remember them. Hosted solutions will grow as a percent of the overall market for at least 10 years, until they reach about one-third of all seats. System integrators of all sizes will partner with the hosted service providers and develop lucrative integration practices around the hosted model. In three years, half of all contact center RFPs will require responses to include both hosted and premises options, and the hosted model will be chosen 20 percent of the time. Five years from now, some of the largest and most visible contact centers in the world will be operating on a hosted model, and many industry players will not remember things being any other way.

By Tracey E. Schelmetic
Editorial Director, Customer Inter@ction Solutions
TS: Where will CosmoCom be in three to five years?


BE: I’d say that in three to five years, CosmoCom will be exactly what it is now — the global leader in hosted contact center platforms, and a company that is also profiting from premises sales via channel convergence and from meeting the customer care needs of major telcos and network service providers. It’s just a matter of growth and scale.

TS: Thank you for your time. CIS

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