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February 24, 2009

Call Center Digital Signage: Spectrum's VP Sheds Light on Corporation

By Jessica Kostek, TMCnet Channel Editor


The Spectrum (News - Alert) Corporation's "total solution" provides analytic solutions like real time and historical data-collection software, state-of-the-art display devices, and integration services. With Call Center Digital Signage, capture data from any traditional contact center application such as an ACD, PDS, WFM, or Help Desk and push the transformed information out to LCD screens, Dashboards, Desktops, Wallboards, Email and Web pages.
 
However, for those interested in how Spectrum Corporation started in the Digital Signage market, Dan Boehm Vice President of Spectrum Corporation gave TMC (News - Alert) readers a bit of background information:
 
Dan Boehm: For those readers who may not be familiar with Spectrum Corporation Spectrum incorporated in 1971. The business at the time was building scoreboards for schools. All schools from elementary up to college and even pro level sports are Spectrum customers. The business did very well and in three years built a new building that allowed Spectrum to grow for years to come. Spectrum has been on the same property since 1974 but has expanded many times. Today Spectrum has over 45,000 sq ft of office and manufacturing space in Houston. While the buildings are nothing special to look at they are all paid for. 
 
The company started with four investors and took on a fifth in the early 70’s. Today two of those investors have cashed out and have retired and three of the original investors/owners are still active in the day to day business. 
 
In the 1980’s the scoreboard business was doing very well and innovation created a new feature to go on the scoreboards. This new innovation was an electronic sign that could show messages to the crowds, encourage the fans to yell and scream, and allowed the schools to sell ad space to pay for the sign and scoreboard. At a high school basketball game in the mid 1980’s an engineer from Siemens (News - Alert) saw the signs and contacted Spectrum to see if he could send a message from his ACD that would show the number of calls in queue, service level, etc. This of course could be done and within a few years Spectrum was private labeling the wallboards to over 20 companies. When the Call Center Wallboard interest took off Spectrum formed a second division, the telecom division, to focus solely on call centers and vendors to the call centers. By the mid 1990’s Spectrum wallboards were compatible with over 35 different ACD’s. Spectrum continued to provide the wallboards on a private label based to many of the major Telecom vendors of the day.  
 
While the wallboards were compatible one complaint kept on coming up, the boards were not flexible enough. Customers wanted to capture more data and display it in a different fashion. Spectrum began developing software in the late 80’s to drive the boards. When the second major release of our flagship software hit the market our wallboard sales grew dramatically. When we came out with our third major release we also began selling the software on a private label basis to many of the OEM’s selling our wallboards. 
 
In 2001 when the dotcom bubble burst, we saw many of our OEM customers disappear through acquisition, bankruptcy or the need to focus on their own core product. Spectrum began making a change to the go to market strategy and began selling to resellers and less to OEM’s and Distributors. For the first time in Spectrum history we began to focus on selling to end users. 
 
Over the last few years we have seen many of the OEM companies reduce part numbers and focus on their core products. These OEM’s have been doing this for the past 8 years to reduce costs. Fewer part numbers to manage will save money so Spectrum and many others were cut from the OEM roles from these vendors. (Note: In 2008 Avaya (News - Alert) stated they will cut 50% of their part numbers and in 2009 they will cut another 50% of their remaining part numbers all in an effort to reduce costs and become more of a software house.)
 
In 2005 we began a process of retiring two of our flagship software programs. The purpose for the change was to take advantage of the new development tools available to us as well as give the customers more of what they wanted. For example, web access. Yes our then current software could provide web access but it was a separate module, customers did not want that. So Spectrum wrote two design documents to replace the current flagship software. Design and development took approximately 18 months before the first beta software test could happen. These new software packages are neXorce and VectraView. 
 
In 2003 Spectrum had wallboards and/or software in over 10,000 call centers around the world. Today slightly less than 60 percent of our business is in North America and the balance spread around the world. 
 
Spectrum has approximately 110 employees with the average length of service with Spectrum over ten years. We have offices in the UK providing sales, installation and support services and in India providing sales, installation, support and software development services. 
 
Learn more about the Spectrum Corporation on TMCnet's Call Center Digital Signage channel.

Jessica Kostek is a channel editor for TMCnet, covering VoIP, CRM, call center and wireless technologies. To read more of Jessica’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jessica Kostek



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