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January 1998

Getting More Done With Less

BY NADJI TEHRANI


Those of you who have been following the recent financial turmoil in Asia are fully aware that such an economic downturn will impact the United States in two ways:
  1. Lower sales of U.S. goods and services in Asia for multinational companies.

  2. Promote severe belt-tightening by the companies in the region, which will eventually lead to lower wages in these countries and thus lower the price of goods entering the United States. It seems that the only way U.S. companies can survive this new and farreaching economic challenge is to simply “GET MORE DONE WITH LESS.” That, of course, means far superior productivity with less and less manpower at much lower cost.

The Required Strategy
In my humble opinion, about the only way to achieve the above objective is by:

  1. Selecting cutting-edge technology.
  2. Using the technology to the fullest extent of its potential.

This, for a majority of companies, is easier said than done. Indeed, if you were to visit a typical U.S. company, you’d probably find that more than one-half of the available technology on the premises is not being used to the fullest extent!

Another related matter that delays the application of cutting-edge technology in business is the huge time lag between the development and introduction of a new technology and the actual adoption of new technology. This is the Continued from page 6 case because of extremely poor marketing on the part of the majority of hightech companies. As I have stated in previous editorials in this column, hightech companies are typically founded and run by engineers or scientists who are largely technology driven and rarely market driven. These entrepreneurs tend to think the marketplace exists because of their product, whereas, in reality, it is the other way around, i.e., their product exists because the marketplace has a need for it.

It’s been my experience that “IF YOU DON’T MARKET, YOU DON’T EXIST” or if you prefer, “NO ONE BUYS ANYTHING SIGNIFICANT FROM A COMPANY THEY HAVE NEVER HEARD OF.”

Balancing Call Center Technologies, Services And Human Resources
Another vitally important area that should be on everyone’s New Year’s resolution list is to balance call center technologies, services and human resources. As I travel around the country and visit many companies, I often find that companies either tend to ignore the advent of cutting-edge technology or feverishly attempt to adopt some new technology without giving any thought to balancing the new technology with services and human resources.

Part of the reason for this problem is that the convergence of computer and telecommunications technologies, otherwise known as CTI, has created such a vast proliferation of new products and services that companies are literally unable to make well-informed technology purchases. To address this need, we have added two new technology features to our balance of technology, services and human resources coverage.

One of these features is indepth product reviews, which are conducted by our in-house TMC™ Labs personnel. These reviews, which will appear on a quarterly basis, will give you an inside view of pertinent technologies along with our engineer’s experience installing and using the products.

The second new feature is a monthly column called “TechnoTalk,” which is written by our staff technology editor, Matthew Vartabedian. He intends to prepare these articles as a service to our readers in an effort to inform and alert us to the changes that we should all be cognizant of if we are to successfully manage this industry for excellent customer service and ever improving efficiency — a profit-improving management approach that will help to ensure a healthy industry and our continued participation in it.

In addition to these enhancements to our editorial balance, we are, for the first time, presenting Editors’ Choice Technology Awards to products that deserve your attention. We hope this increased focus on technology, as well as our traditional features, will help you make more astute buying decisions and more important, make better use of your investments and resources.

Selecting Appropriate Technology
In the race to adopt new technology to increase productivity, buyers are likely to make poor decisions unless they have done appropriate and extensive research. See the “Publisher’s Outlook” in the December 1997 issue of Telemarketing & Call Center Solutions™magazine for purchasing guidelines. In that particular editorial I have enumerated several factors to consider before selecting any kind of technology or service. Suffice it to say, technology alone will not solve your productivity problems, and that is why making it all work together is vitally important.

Call Center Market/Technology Trends For 1998
One of the hottest trends among technology providers seems to be the development of industry-specific products for vertical markets. There is obviously a considerable amount of logic behind this new concept and one wonders why this type of technology was not developed earlier. In addition, more and more technologies are being developed to enable businesses to respond to customers’ needs in whichever manner they (customers) request the information. At this point, one of the areas that is receiving major interest on the part of technology vendors is adapting all new and existing products to be Internet compatible.

New Technology Trends
CTI™ EXPO is in high gear! We expect fabulous overall conference attendance, especially at our state-of-theart Call Center Solutions™ and Internet Telephony™ pavilions. Some key features of the industry’s original, most comprehensive and credible convention in the call center/CTI industry are as follows:

  • Conference seminars on a variety of topics dealing with telephony, CTI, call center operations, the Internet, Internet telephony, integrating voice and data, presented in a nononsense, educational form
  • The Exhibit Hall will feature, in addition to a stellar representation of the world’s leading exhibitors, two learning centers devoted respectively to the latest technologies in the PCPBX and Internet telephony fields. Each learning center will have about six vendors offering objective demonstrations and allowing you to experience the products for yourself.
  • Ingram Micro is giving a free session on Wednesday, May 20 on “How to Become the Most Profitable CTI Reseller.” They will be sharing their front-line experience with all attendees. This session will be of great value to all our attendees, as well as resellers of all types and interconnects.
  • Days one and two will begin with outstanding keynotes from William R. Price III, vice president and general manager of MCI Call Center Services, Mark Lee, product manager, Windows Communications, at Microsoft Corporation and Peter Alexander, executive director, multiservice and voice access marketing unit at Cisco Systems.
  • Every main conference attendee will receive a certificate of achievement to document their accomplishment.
  • CTI™ EXPO is also a unique opportunity to network and exchange views with your colleagues. I look forward to seeing you there.

Sincerely yours,
Nadji Tehrani
Publisher and Editor-in-Chief


The Call Center Transforms Into The Customer Interaction Center At CTI EXPO!

Technology, and more specifically data networks and the Internet, has dramatically changed the way we conduct business now and into the future. As the paper catalog becomes augmented or replaced by the Web, the call center business is seeing the most dramatic change it has ever seen. It no longer handles calls only. Call centers today must also handle e-mail, fax, chat and soon video. The call center has become the customer interaction center.

Data communications and telecommunications convergence is taking place in the call center and telecommunications market. In 1997, we began to see PBXs and ACDs housed inside a PC. Companies such as Sphere and CellIt have introduced a PBX and ACD respectively that run over data networks, thus eliminating traditional telephone lines. You simply must keep up with the latest technology in this market. It is imperative to make purchasing decisions that will carry you into the next millennium without frequent “forklift upgrades.”

Readers of this magazine have been exposed to most of these technologies within the pages of this magazine. These are exceptionally exciting times for the call center industry and it is important to keep up with the latest technology before it passes you by. Now is the time to plan for the future. It is not enough to implement new technologies in a piecemeal fashion. You must develop a strategy for today and the future as to how to roll out these exciting new technologies in an organized, cohesive manner that does not disrupt the flow of your call center operations.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a live demonstration is worth a million. Fortunately, we sponsor a trade show that allows you to come face-to-face with the leading call center technology vendors. I urge you all to come to CTI™ EXPO, May 20-21 in Baltimore, Maryland and see these exhibitors. They will be demonstrating technologies that will benefit your call center today and in the future. A trade show affords competitive product comparisons while product features are fresh in your mind. There is simply no other way to gain as much information in such a short amount of time. Additionally, we have developed an in-depth conference track (May 19-22) that explains what you need to know in laymen’s terms, so you don’t need an engineering degree to understand how to take advantage of this technology. Please see the brochure between pages 96 & 97 of this magazine for more information. Some of the conference tracks are outlined below, and more information is always available at www.ctiexpo.com/ctiexpo

I look forward to seeing you there.

Conference Tracks

  • Web & Call Center Integration — How & Why
  • Saving Your Center Cash On The Net
  • Call Center & The Internet As Your Global Distribution Center
  • The Synergy Of CTI & The Internet In Your Call Center
  • Next Generation Customer Service/Customer Service Solutions
  • Electronic Commerce In Health Care
  • Direct Banking Technology Strategies
  • Internet Content In The Financial Services Industry
  • Internet Strategies For The Financial Services Industry
  • Linking The Internet To Your Call Center In The Telecommunications Industry
  • Integrating The Web & The Help Desk For Optimal Performance In The Insurance Industry

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