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While you were out this summer ...

Like many of you, I recently returned from some R&R this past summer and as I head into the fall, I think it would be instructive to take a look at the important news from the past few weeks so we can accurately gauge where things are headed for the rest of the year. After all, it is very possible that while you were vacationing on that cruise ship, news of a killer contact center solution has emerged, which could make your job easier and in doing so save and/or make money for your corporation.

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Hosted Applications

One trend which hasn't let up these past years is applications going hosted. Although in the past month, there have been a number of high-profile on-demand outages (www.tmcnet.com/2376.1), thankfully, few if any of these occurred from hosted on-demand providers in the call center or CRM spaces.

So rather than focus on damage control, SaaS providers who enable better customer interactions have been able to focus on making better products. Case in point is Oracle who has now enabled better integration between the company's on-demand and hosted applications. This comes courtesy of lots of elbow grease and Oracle Fusion Middleware.

Smart Phone Frenzy

Another trend we have seen this past summer is that of increased focus on mobility and smart-phones such as the 3G iPhone, which I went through quite an ordeal (www.tmcnet.com/2377.1) to get myself. But Apple is not alone in producing devices that make us drool--the much-anticipated Blackberry Bold is also being rolled out across various wireless networks worldwide.

In such an environment it makes sense for a company like SugarCRM to come out with version 5.1 of their popular customer relationship management solution, which supports the iPhone and Blackberry via an HTML interface. As mobile browsers get better--and certainly Safari is one of the better ones, it makes sense to have applications which are at least aware of the fact they are running on mobile networks so they can adjust accordingly. Sure, you can browse any site with an iPhone but still, custom designed sites or even a custom application designed for Apple's newest phone make the experience that much better.

One company who is no stranger to the contact center is Aspect and in a recent interview (www.tmcnet.com.2379.1) with Henry Danser, a vice president of the company, I got a solid glimpse into what the world's leading contact center company thinks about the future of contact centers as well as the integration of the call center and UC. In addition the interview provides insight on the two other critical areas you need to focus on in your contact center--performance optimization and unified solutions.

This summer has also seen CRM systems get smarter. As a result of SalesForce.com's open APIs and technology from DataSea, users of the popular hosted CRM solution can now use natural language queries to extract specific data from massive stores of information. Think of this as having a search engine available for all corporate information available to contact center agents allowing them to better serve your customers. In theory this should result in more accurate information being disseminated by front line workers and the speed to get at this information should be vastly improved as well. This could mean in some applications there could tremendous cost savings as in a contact center (as in many other areas of life), time is money.

So while many of us have vacationed these past months it is good to know that the companies making call center products and solutions have been quite busy--producing products and services, which should make your life easier this fall and beyond.

Oh and on another note, I find it curious to see that over a decade after some predicted the Internet would kill the call center market, the world's leading e-tailer, Amazon.com recently announced (www.tmcnet.com/2380.1) it would hire 250 full and part time customer service positions. When will the Internet finally do away with the call center you ask? I suppose it will happen shortly after the paperless office that was predicted 20 years ago becomes a reality.

Rich Tehrani, Group Publisher, Technology Marketing Corp.
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Title Annotation:High Priority
Author:Tehrani, Rich
Publication:Customer Interaction Solutions
Date:Sep 1, 2008
Words:713
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