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Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Contact centres are ripe for enterprise mashups

Spending time recently in a contact centre reminded me of a quip I heard from Lord Saatchi. He was talking to a senior director of a well know consumer brand and saying: “do you know the old saying about half of your marketing budget does not deliver but the issue is which half? Well for your company, I have worked it out: neither!”

So which half of your IT budget works in the call centre? Neither. You just have to look at how many applications call centre agents have to deal with during a call! Research shows on average 6 but in our experience the number is usually much higher. This is despite years of investment in technology in call centres. The reason for the failure? Each time a new requirement for the agent emerged, a new application would be built or an existing one would be modified. This lead to a proliferation of applications on the desktop, making the job of maintaining them (and integrating them) harder and harder for IT. No wonder release cycle of enterprise applications on the desktop can now be measure in months or years! This results in inefficient processes with dramatic economic consequences: high cost to serve customers while delivering, in a majority of cases, a poor customer experience. No wonder so many companies decided to give up on call centres and outsourced them despite the fact they are one of the most important (and inescapable) windows to customers.

This is why call centre is such a ripe environment for the deployment of enterprise mashups. By changing the economics of building and maintaining integrated solutions to call centre agents, they address the application proliferation issue, reduce dramatically the cost to serve customers by making agents more efficient and deliver clearly measurable ROI in short time frames. This is where we think the real value of enterprise mashup can be realized: in delivering real composite applications to address immediate business needs but in a way that is repeatable and complements modern architectures. A theme I will come back to regularly in this blog.

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