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July 1999


18 Years Of Progress

BY NADJI TEHRANI,
EDITOR IN CHIEF, EXECUTIVE GROUP PUBLISHER


A chicken in every pot; a computer in every home...and I say, a cutting-edge call center in every company that intends to stay ahead of the competition and remain in business.


This 18th-year anniversary issue gives me a great opportunity to look back on our history as well as forward to our future. Since June 1982, when this publication was launched as Telemarketing magazine, our great call center industry has witnessed a tremendous amount of growth, change and evolution. At that time, the call center industry as we know it today literally did not exist, except for a handful of companies that were either conducting market research or handling customer service and fulfillment by phone, along with a very small number of companies doing sales support and lead prequalification by phone. As such, Technology Marketing Corporation (TMC) is proud to have been instrumental in the development of the call center industry. We are equally proud to own the registered trademark for the name Telemarketing.

A Pioneering Effort
Given that there was no telemarketing industry to speak of in 1982, you may wonder what drove me to launch a trade publication called Telemarketing. The answer is simple: through my firsthand experience I learned that telemarketing worked and could be of tremendous benefit to all businesses. Here’s how:
Back in the late ’70s, TMC published trade magazines for the chemical coatings industry. One day I became disenchanted with the progress of our advertising sales representatives who were traveling around the country selling face-to-face. That day, I decided to pick up the phone just to see what I could do selling ads by phone. That was the beginning of the foundation of the telemarketing industry in my mind. In just one hour, I was able to sell five full ad pages, which was as much as my top field sales representatives sold in a week. I repeated the process for four more days and by the end of the week, I had sold 20 ad pages without incurring any costs for car allowances, expense accounts, hotel and lodging, food, cabs, parking or airline tickets. I was so excited — I had discovered a gold mine, a way to produce far more sales in the shortest possible time at a fraction of the cost. My vision led me to call this new publication "Telemarketing…The Magazine of Electronic Marketing and Communications" (see photo to the left). Incidentally, today we call the cutting-edge method of conducting business: electronic commerce; e-commerce; electronic marketing; e-business, etc., so our subtitle wasn’t too far off the mark. But back then, we knew we had a rough road ahead. Here we had a fledgling, barely existing industry and no idea where the next article would come from. As an entrepreneur who normally does not think beyond tomorrow, we took the plunge and launched Telemarketing magazine. And…sure enough, after the second issue, Linda Driscoll, our esteemed editor (whom, by the way, we are proud to say continues to serve Technology Marketing Corporation as vice president and editorial director of [email protected] CENTER Solutions magazine), came to me and informed me, "Mr. Tehrani, I am sorry, but we have nothing more to write about." In search of finding something new to write about, my investigation took me to the offices of Mr. John Wyman, vice president of Marketing at AT&T at that time, to ask him for his assistance. He agreed to assist us under one condition, and that was that we must maintain the editorial integrity of this publication. Those of you who have been subscribers since 1982 will hopefully agree that it is precisely what we have done, especially as the quantity of editorial with great substance began to increase in the ensuing years.

Technological Evolution And The Dawn Of A New Era
It has been amazing and thrilling to watch the technological development of our industry by being in a position where we have been among the first to learn of every new breakthrough. We have seen the use of 3x5 cards and rotary telephones evolve to push-button telephones to integrated contact management software and automated dialing to Web-enabled call centers. Perhaps the latest evolution in the call center began in the mid ’90s with the introduction of the universal agent concept and the technologies that enable TSRs and CSRs to conduct inbound and outbound calls with equal efficiency. Then came the necessity for greater customer service, customer retention and what is now known as CRM or customer relationship management — none of which would have reached such extraordinary heights without the appropriate use of cutting-edge technology such as CTI and Internet telephony. These powerful technologies uniquely lend themselves to far greater customer service and efficiency. They also offer significantly enhanced value, operability and multifunctionality in the call center. And today, with technologies that integrate the call center with the Internet, as well as the latest networking technologies, we can interact with customers in ways never before dreamed possible.

Our Own Progress Has Mirrored The Industry
As the industry has grown, so have our efforts to serve its needs. From our vantage point as the leading publisher in the industry, we have been able to identify the most important topics and develop new products that deliver complete information on those subject areas. In addition to [email protected] CENTER Solutions, TMC also publishes CTI magazine and INTERNET TELEPHONY magazine, as well as Web site products such as TMCnet.com. We also produce two trade shows: CTI EXPO, which is held in the spring and fall (the next event is from December 7-9, 1999 in Las Vegas, Nevada), and Internet Telephony Expo, which will be held October 6-8, 1999 in San Diego, California at the Hotel Del Coronado. Each of these products is dedicated to bringing corporate America the best-quality information on the fastest-growing, cutting-edge technologies for use in call centers or enterprisewide.

CellIT Deserves Recognition
At the recently held CTI EXPO Spring convention May 24-25 in Washington, D.C., the CellIT company unveiled its spectacular new technology that offers far superior performance and portability of call centers. Like such major vendors as Microsoft, Lucent Technologies, Cisco Systems, IBM and others, to name a few, the CellIT booth at CTI EXPO drew one of the largest crowds ever seen at any computer-telephony convention. Perhaps the best description of what happened at CTI EXPO was given to us by Alexander Tellez, president and CEO at CellIT:
"CTI EXPO generated five times more qualified sales leads than any other show we have ever exhibited at. We cherish our relationship with the CTI EXPO sponsors and look forward to a long relationship with TMC."

The Honest Publisher
A few weeks ago, when I visited a call center convention held in France, I discovered a French publication focused on call centers. Upon meeting its publisher, I asked him how he started the publication. He was honest in his reply and stated, "We paid to subscribe to all of your publications and, knowing that all of them are the leading source of information in the industry, we essentially reproduced the knowledge we gained from your magazines and adapted it to the French needs." When I heard this, I asked myself, so what else is new? Everyone else in the United States and many countries I have visited do exactly the same thing. At least the French publisher was very honest about it and gave us the credit! As the French say, "C’est la vie."

Sincerely,

Nadji Tehrani
Executive Group Publisher
Editor-in-Chief
ntehrani@tmcnet.com


CTI Flies High At Expo
Exhibitors Thrilled With Turnout At Washington Show

BY EVAN BASS, CTI NEWS

(Editor’s Note: This story, written by Evan Bass, first appeared June 1 in CTI News, a newsletter produced twice a month by Phillips Business Information, a subsidiary of Phillips Publishing. Mr. Bass can be contacted at 301-340-7788.)

WASHINGTON — Lackluster convention attendance and sagging financial results from core CTI companies have left the recent impression that computer telephony may be ahead of its time.

But if general impressions at CTI EXPO at the Washington Convention Center May 24-26 were any indication, the reports of CTI’s demise may be greatly exaggerated.

A sampling of show floor exhibitors was unanimous in saying there was much more traffic and more enthusiasm at this show than at CT Expo in Los Angeles in March.

"The traffic here is of a higher quality than we’ve seen at earlier shows this year," said Gary G. Smith, corporate vice president of sales for Roswell, Georgia-based Syntellect. "We’re optimistic that the pressure from Y2K is behind these people. Now they’re getting back to managing call centers. I did not see that in March at the Computer Telephony show — only because there was nobody there."

"It’s been a great show, we went to CTI EXPO in San Jose in the fall and it was not nearly as crowded as this," said Theresa VanLaeken, senior product manager for Cincinnati-based Cincom Systems Inc.

Several exhibitors commented that attendees seemed more educated about CTI technology than before.

"We did a presentation at 8:30 in the morning [on May 26] and I didn’t think anybody would show up," said Peter B. Keenan, vice president of sales for Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Artisoft. "We had over 60 people show up and I couldn’t get them out of the room. They were asking excellent, intelligent questions."

Christopher B. Ward, director of marketing communications for Framingham, Massachusetts-based Natural MicroSystems, heard questions from those seeking a broad education on voice over IP to those trying to nail down specific differences between fax machines.

Questions about Compact PCI came up with just about every customer Ward spoke to, regardless of the application area. High-density fax was another hot topic.

"They’re all looking at getting more robust platforms whether it’s enhanced services in the network or enterprise infrastructure systems," Ward said. "They’re very interested in the hot swap capabilities of Compact PCI and the higher reliability."

Customers seeking options — and more options — was what kept Gary Smith busy.

"They want open, standards-based equipment, they don’t want proprietary," Smith said. "They want to continue to reduce costs in the customer service area. They want to offer other means of communications to their customers, and the caveat is that they can make money by doing that. I think we’ve seen the bottoming out of cost reduction in the call center based on providing self-service options and Web options. What we’re hearing back from our markets is they want to provide more Internet applications to their customers."

Unified messaging wasn’t exactly burning up the show floor.

"Customers ask about it, but I’m not 100 percent sure they really understand what they’re asking about," said Tony Jazayeri, CTI product specialist for Bohemia, New York-based Periphonics Corp. "It’s just a buzzword that’s running through the industry. They really don’t understand what the ability of unified messaging is and what benefit it’s going to give them."

A sizable number of customers were looking for products for small call centers of about 25 to 50 seats, Jazayeri said.

"Products from the big companies like Lucent and Nortel are not affordable for small call centers," Jazayeri said. "And a lot of small call centers need the total solution — IVR, ACD, CTI."

VanLaeken and Kelly Bevan, vice president of global marketing for Milpitas, California-based EasyPhone, both said Internet-related products were items of great customer interest.

"The Web is always a big topic, but we’ve found a lot of overall interest in the inbound products and the outbound products, like predictive dialing," said VanLaeken.

The PC-PBX market has been on fire, said Brian Strachman, analyst with Cahner’s In-Stat Group. He expects to have a market forecast report on the subject by the end of June.

"The small switch that runs off usually an NT, sometimes other operating systems, is very feature-rich with lots of CTI applications," Strachman said. "Last year there were three or four companies producing it. This year I’m counting more than 30. Half of them just started shipping."

(Kelly Bevan, EasyPhone, (408) 965-1780; Tony Jazayeri, Periphonics, (972) 997-7291; Peter B. Keenan, Artisoft, (617) 354-0600, ext. 222; Gary G. Smith, Syntellect, (770) 587-0700, ext. 7580; Brian Strachman, Cahner’s In-Stat, (602) 483-4454; Theresa VanLaeken, Cincom Systems, (703) 467-9797; Christopher B. Ward, Natural MicroSystems, (508) 271-1243.)

Nadji Tehrani
Executive Group Publisher
Editor-in-Chief
ntehrani@tmcnet.com







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