I've always liked the way that Lake Michigan glows green when the sun
is out in Chicago, and seems to turn very pale, almost white, when it's
Here at this year's ICCM show (the International Call Center Management
event), the water has been alternating between green and pale all
(If you're waiting for a brilliant analogy between the lake water and
the technologies on display at the show, don't hold your breath. It's
Shows have moods, I've found over the years. They also carry themes. If
this year's ICCM were a person, it would be in a mellow mood, perhaps
sipping a bit of chardonnay and listening to some lite modern jazz. I
have, however, noticed a few trends this year.
1. A lesser amount of new releases. Shows are usually a natural forum
for exciting new releases. Thus far, I'm not seeing many. Many companies
have told me they'll be making announcements in the coming weeks, but
can't share them now. If they did, they'd have to kill me.
2) A lot of the contact center software companies are continuing to beef
up their reporting capabilities. If there's a link between ROI and the
sheer number of reports a solution generates, some of the solutions here
should pay for themselves by Tuesday. Seriously, though, I am seeing an
emphasis on real, meaningful reporting rather than the deluge of largely
useless data that was so common to some solutions in the past.
3) There are a few new players in the International Outsourcing
Pavilion, proving that despite its lumps and blemishes, offshore
outsourcing is growing at a healthy rate, and therefore here to stay.
Some new (or new to me, anyway) players include Berlin, Germany; Brazil;
Trinidad and Tobago and South Africa. Familiar faces are here as well:
Barbados, Costa Rica and the Province of Ontario.
4) I'm seeing a burgeoning initiative to offer solutions via
thin-client, which will ostensibly save call centers time and money by
allowing them to operate with smaller IT staffs. When software can be
maintained centrally and delivered to agents' desktops via browser, it
can be more efficiently administered and eliminate the need for the
constantly roving, harassed IT employee. (And we all know how unpleasant
life gets when our IT staff members are harassed.)
5) I'm also seeing a welcome lessening of the amount of CRM (news
- define - tutorial) hype/hysteria. While CRM
is a critical component of any successful company, it's not a cure-all,
and many people don't even completely understand the concept. (Such as
the vendor that years ago tried to pitch me a CRM-enabled headset.)
Saying the words, "CRM, CRM, CRM" won't improve your
customers' experience. In other words, do it...don't just talk about it.
6) Among teleservices agencies, I'm seeing an interesting trend to have
both U.S. based operations and foreign operations, allowing them to
blend the best of both worlds and provide customers with high-quality
service, cheaper prices and round-the-clock service.
7) Finally, the growing importance of speech technologies (news -
- tutorial) is evident by both the presence of many of the major players
-- Vocent (news
and VoiceGenie (news
-- and the fact that many contact center solutions providers have
recently begun integrating speech capabilities into their existing
So as Lake Michigan once again turns dark green, I'm back to the show
floor, to ferret out more trends while quietly dreaming about
Tracey Schelmetic may be reached for comment at email@example.com.
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