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One out of every 24 call center agents serving U.S. customers is outsourced to a near- or offshore bureau, according to research firm Datamonitor. The firm predicts that by 2008, one in 15 agent positions will be outsourced to a foreign market. Datamonitor says that although the U.S. call centers will lose jobs to foreign markets, new U.S.--based agent positions in emerging sectors--namely, utilities and government--and traditional outsourcing verticals will safeguard against shrinkage of the domestic market. Success, however, will depend on outsourcers leveraging offshore and nearshore call center operations and executing the right vertical-specific sales strategy, according to Datamonitor. IT spending is up 10 percent over the previous quarter, for the third quarter of 2003, according to the "Wendover-Global Insight IT Spending Index." The index value for CRM is nearly triple for the third quarter of 2003, compared to the same period a year ago, indicating a steady increase in budget allocations for new installations. "CRM is one of the few investments that impact top-line revenue," says Larry Dillon, chief executive of Wendover. "It is consistent with the current goals of companies to increase in that area. It also doesn't hurt that Microsoft is out in the marketplace actively promoting its CRM solution. You can't ignore that."
One of the larger early adopters of Web-services technology is the communications service provider (CSP) industry, according to a new Yankee Group report. The report illustrates how some early CSP adopters of Web services are strategically using this technology for initiatives that increase customer value and decrease operating expenses, according to Sharon Ballard, Yankee Group telecom software services analyst. The report says mainstream CSP adoption of Web-services technologies will not occur for at least another two to three years. The teamware market is expected to experience rapid growth over the next few years, according to Matt Cain, senior vice president with META Group's Technology Research Services. Teamware includes tools for task management, calendars, threaded discussions, and document creation. The projected growth is good news for CRM users, because teamware tools help to create business efficiencies by replacing ad hoc methods of project execution like email and attachments, faxes, voicemail, and shared network drives, according to Cain. In addition, teamware tools enable the enforcement of corporate guidelines and best practice execution by allowing the customization of templates, workflow, and data import/export facilities. Just 1 Question CRM magazine: Is there more value in vertical or horizontal CRM solutions? Jeff Longoria, vice president of sales, Firstwave Technologies: "Nobody argues that they need CRM. It's what's the return, what do I get out of it? The basics [of functionality] are all figured out. Processes are where the value lies. So CRM solutions are gravitating toward domain expertise. Build best business practices for an industry into a CRM solution, then share that with others."
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