Enterprise Contact Centres - a revenue opportunity for telcos?

HTK is a specialist supplier of 'voice 2.0' services. They're one of the interesting group of companies who'll be participating in the 'Innovators Zone' at the Telco 2.0 event. We'll be presenting some of our new analysis on the (significant) market opportunity for telcos to provide services to enterprise contact centres on Day One of the event. In the meantime, we asked Marlon Bowser, HTK's Managing Director, for his thoughts on this topic:

Chasing the Rainbow

The telecom industry is going through a time of arguably unprecedented change, with more opportunity for "service innovation" than ever before. With change comes the need to adapt and many Telecom Service Providers are opening up their networks to enable integration of third-party application services. The question is whether fostering such a culture and community of innovation is a business model that makes sense, and how it can be harnessed to generate significant financial growth.

Companies like BT and Microsoft are catalysing the market for innovation, with service delivery platform vendors waiting in the wings to prove that they're the best bet to host the next big thing. The problem is that innovators and early adopters of new technology are often driven by an agenda of "cool" rather than one of "cash" - it may create excitement, but it rarely creates significant revenue growth.

Solving a Big Problem

One obvious area where network services could make a difference is in the management of communications between organisations and their customers. Most organisations have their own or outsourced Contact Centres to provide customer support; to answer questions and help people get where they want to go. The faster and more efficient the process and the better the emotional response the more successful that operation will be.

Empowering customers to make informed decisions about how they want to communicate with organisations is becoming a key factor for Contact Centres especially where customer retention and satisfaction are critical success factors. Providing customers with personalised services and the ability for customers to "self-serve" also requires an increase in the level of integration between business process applications and communication services.

To be successful these services need to be able to adapt to changing customer requirements. Constantly changing in-house service platforms can be disruptive and expensive, making network centric hosted services an attractive option.

Presence and availability information are two of the key features of next-generation telecom network architecture. If we couple both features with the increasing availability of rapid service innovation through access to third party applications we have the perfect environment for the development of intelligent, personalised self-service capabilities. Flexibility and cost could be the main drivers for growth in the adoption of network based services in the Contact Centre market. There is certainly plenty of scope for growth as shown in Fig 1.

Fig 1. Potential for provision of hosted services.

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Taking this concept of intelligent routing a stage further there may also be an opportunity to extend into the consumer market providing intelligent routing services integrating telephone and data services. Thus providing the ability for individuals to manage the routing of incoming calls depending upon their relationship with the calling party.

Some calls they may want to receive regardless of their physical location so be routed to mobile or another landline. Other calls they may want to route to messaging services that provide intelligent features such as links to diaries for automatic appointment entry.

Whether it is organisation to individual communication or individual to individual communication, the potential exists for intelligent, decision based routing services to be a key enabler for new revenue growth in the telecom sector.

The Practicality of Going to Market

So how does a Tier-1 telecom service provider enter the market quickly, with a value-added service portfolio that will provide a significant uplift in both revenue and margin? Moreover, how can a Telco manage its own financial risk of investment in a service delivery platform and portfolio of next-generation applications that may be slow to take-off? What if there is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow (or more likely, what if another service provider finds it first)?

One answer can be to work with a partner who will not only provide innovative new services, but who will take shared responsibility - on a financial risk and reward basis - for the operational infrastructure, hosting, management and market success of those network services. I.e. A vested interest. Out-sourcing has become increasingly popular for reasons of cost reduction, business agility and lean-operation, but in the context of application delivery it can also help to drive new sources of revenue. Combined, that can make it a highly effective and low-risk strategy.

It may come of no surprise to you to discover "that's what we do" here at HTK. In fact many of the service features discussed earlier form part of our Virtual Contact Centre vision and portfolio for the Telco 2.0 marketplace.

[Ed. - do look out for Marlon and HTK at the Telco 2.0 event on 4-5 Nov, London].