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Jacada is a provider of unified desktop and process optimization solutions for customer service operations. The company’s solutions, Jacada WorkSpace and Jacada Fusion, are designed to simplify,
automate and optimize a call center’s work processes across disparate business systems, eliminating inefficiencies and boosting productivity. I recently got a chance to catch up with the company by chatting with Jacada’s CEO Paul O’Callaghan.

RT: So how was business in 2007?

PO’C: 2007 was a record year for Jacada. In terms of results, we achieved record revenues of $25.8 million for the year, in line with our annual guidance, and representing 25 percent growth over 2006. This growth was driven by a 57 percent increase in our call center business. On January 1, 2008, we sold our “Application Modernization,” or legacy business, to Software AG for $26 million in cash. We are now entirely focused on our call center solutions business, which grew to a record $13.3 million from $8.5 million in the fiscal year 2006. Our cash position is now approximately $56 million. From a new contract perspective, we had a very successful year. We signed new customer contracts in a number of different verticals, including telecommunications, public utility, financial and insurance services, retail, hospitality/gaming and government. We announced new contracts with O2 UK, Harrahs Entertainment, Station Casinos, Central Hudson Gas & Electric and Lillian Vernon. We also signed new contracts with other major customers we could not mention by name to include a major telecommunications provider in Canada, a premiere telecommunications provider in Eastern Europe, a significant contract with a major, brand name North American insurance company and another large North American public utility. In 2007, we also signed reseller agreements with Avaya, Accenture and IBM Global Business Services. The partners are currently engaged in promoting our solutions and assisting us in sales opportunities.

RT: How does it compare to where 2008 is headed?

PO’C: We are projecting 50 to 65 percent growth in 2007. At the end of 2007 our backlog, which represents booked business that we have not yet recognized, was $14.7 million, representing a year-over-year increase of 76 percent. This speaks to the visibility and health of our future revenues. Based on the depth and quality of our sales pipeline, and our expectations that the majority of the backlog will be recognized in 2008, we have provided annual revenue guidance for 2008 of $20 to $22 million.

And our partners are just now beginning to contribute to our success. In the fourth quarter of 2007, partners made their first contributions represented by the new telecommunications customer win in Eastern Europe and the win with the major telecommunications company in Canada. One partner just recently delivered the first phase of one of the projects into production, on time and on budget with expanded scope. We expect to see the contribution from these partners to continue to grow as they increase their investment in Jacada-trained resources and continue to experience success.

RT: How does unifying the agent’s desktop directly lead to improving KPIs?

PO’C: Most contact centers suffer from an overly complex customer service desktop. It negatively impacts both the efficiency and effectiveness of the customer service operation, and makes it very difficult for companies to enforce regulatory compliance and corporate policies. The systems are often so complicated and the processes are so complex that training takes too long, agents get frustrated and leave, handle times are too long and customer service and retention suffer. By simplifying and automating the customer service desktop, we can significantly improve the customer experience and the ability for the agent to add value back to the business.

RT: Which KPIs in particular?

PO’C: It’s interesting. Most of our customers build their business case on improvements in efficiency metrics, but they are often really implementing the solution to improve effectiveness. For example, it is not unusual for our solution to deliver a reduction in average handle times of 20 percent, or reduce training times by as much as 50 percent. This translates to millions of dollars of savings for our customers, and typically a complete return on their investment in less than 12 months from deployment. These are the kind of numbers they need to gain budget approvals and the blessing of their CFO.
However, more times than not, the real objective is to improve effectiveness. For example, financial services and hospitality/gaming customers are looking to improving “share of wallet,” or the ability to sell more reservations, upsell a new service — basically improve revenues. Utility customers are looking to improve customer service levels to compete in unregulated markets and gain approval for rate increases from the Public Service Commission. Telcos are all about customer satisfaction and retention… no one wants to be the next Sprint and lose nearly 800,000 customers in three months, which was attributed in part to mediocre customer care.

RT: What specific improvements effected by unified desktops help bring about the ROI of your solutions?

PO’C: It’s really about making the desktop do what the agent would expect it to do to support various call types. A lot has been written about a “single view” of the customer. What good is a “single view” if it means merely gathering and displaying thousands of pieces of customer data in 50 tabs on one desktop… with no context behind it? Our customers gain a significant competitive edge by deploying an intelligent view of customer data and interaction flow. If the agent is setting up a new customer, they want the data, screens and interaction flow required for setting up a new customer. If they are handling a claim or a support issue, they want to be stepped through that process logically. Most call centers handle more than 20 call types; some would say they handle hundreds. Providing an intelligent view of the data and interaction flow to the agent enables call centers to train more agents to take more call types, achieving that elusive concept of a “universal agent.”

RT: Where will Jacada be in the next three years?

PO’C: I could not be more excited about the future for Jacada. For the past four years, we have been perfecting and advocating this notion of a unified desktop. Our growing list of Global 2000 customers and the support and recognition we are now receiving from some of the world’s largest systems integrators tell us we are on the right track.
We will continue to innovate, and we will continue to listen to our customers. We are where we are today because we identified a significant pain point within our customers’ contact center operations and delivered a leading, differentiated solution. Our customers continue to educate us on ways we can help them improve their customer service operations, and we will continue to deliver innovative solutions that solve real business problems.

As always, I welcome your comments. Please e-mail them to me at [email protected]

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