Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Contact Centre Expo 2009 - Day One

It's that time of the year again, when most of the UK Contact Centre industry gathers in Birmingham for the Contact Centre Expo.

I covered the Expo last year (see the posts "UK Call Centre Expo" and "UK Contact Centre Expo Day 2") and was interested in the feedback I got as both comments and as e-mails. In the feedback, there was a solid body of opinion that the 2008 Expo lacked much innovation from the vendors. This needed to be weighed against a smaller set of feedback arguing that the show did offer new and valuable ideas, but nonetheless, there was a strong view that the exhibitors needed to raise their game.

I understand where the first group are coming from, but I still find the Expo very useful just because it has so many vendors and customers gathered in the same place and I find innovation a bonus on top of that. There are interesting ideas out in the exhibitor hall (as well as a few rather tired ones) and it's worth going round the Expo to see what is genuinely new.

So the stands that worked for me in the exhibitor hall, in no particular order, were:

  • Sword Ciboodle - In some ways, nothing radically new from what I used to know as Graham Technology. In other ways some interesting incremental improvements and a feeling that the market for process based CRM was probably one of the growth areas of CRM. I've felt for a while that the record-centric approach of Oracle/Siebel grown too big for many customers and too 'one size fits all', so it was interesting to see a CRM approach that was much more process-centric.
  • 60k - Presenting themselves as 'The Alternative BPO & Contact Centre Outsourcer', I was interested to see what 60k thought distinguished themselves from the many other outsourcers in the hall. Part of the answer was "Bulgaria", but the value proposition was much more than that. I've managed outsourced contact centres in a past job (we had European customers with customer service sites split between Europe and South Africa), and my experience is that outsourcing to far off locations can have real disadvantages when you try and manage the resulting operation. Nearshoring and so locating your centre within three hours flight time, but still with cheaper labour is very interesting. The crucial advantage of Bulgaria is that it is in the EU and the EU location is a big advantage over destinations like India when you think of the challenges with outsourcing and data movement compliance with the laws on exporting data outside the EU. What also interested me was the focus of 60k on higher value business process. I've long argued that this is where outsourcing needs to go (see past posts like "Offshore - why I would go for South Africa over India") and it was good to see 60k as a European outsourcer positioning things like 'Insurance Claims Processing' and 'Product Recall Management' that add real value to customers, rather than trying to sell cheap call centre seats.
  • Egypt - I am very interested in the Egyptian contact centre industry as it shows what growth can happen very quickly with government support. I had a good chat with Raya contact centres, who run the contact centre operations of a number of the big tech firms. I must confess a vested interest here, as I recently blogged on Cisco opening their 300 seat centre in Egypt (see "New offshore developments in the European Market") and it was very useful to hear the Egyptian perspective on this.

So all in all very useful (on top of being an exhibitor with a decent number of customer visits to our stand).

Tomorrow, things I'd like to do are:
  • Catch up with Redbox Recorders to understand what they are offering.
  • Have a look at the Nortel stand to understand how they are presenting things after last weeks acquisition by Avaya.
  • Talk to Aspect and better understand the relationship with Microsoft that is so prominent on their stand. (I'm guessing things have moved on since I covered posted on the tie-up announcements back in March last year "VoiceCon 2008 - IBM, Microsoft & Aspect")
As always, do let me have any suggestions for other areas that are getting attention.....


Richard said...

Come and talk with us at Plantronics Alex, we've got a couple of innovative ideas for you.

Alex said...

Hi Richard,
I'd be delighted to come over and have a look, say around 11ish tomorrow?

I see you're over at stand D17 ( http://www.callcentre-expo.co.uk/page.cfm/Action=Exhib/ExhibID=33/loadSearch=89373_313 ), so I'll come over and say hello.

Best wishes,

Ivan said...

Hi Alex! My name is Ivan and I work in 60k Ltd. Thank you very much for the positive feedback. We hope we see you next year at the EXPO. It is good that you've noticed the fact that we are not only cheap but our main goal is to provide excellent service. If you need any further information from us or help in getting information about Bulgaria or the region please send me an e-mail on ivan.ivanov@60k.bg .