40 Contact Centers, One Platform
EADS North America expects to flip the switch on what it is calling the largest single-system contact center operation in the world. Earlier this week EADS unveiled its plans to--with the help of IBM Global Services--unify all 40 Sprint PCS contact centers worldwide under a single platform.
The first phase, which EADS executives expect to be fully integrated by the end of this year, will initially include between 7,000 to 12,000 agents in seven countries, including approximately 6,500 agents working from remote locations.
To do this IBM Global Services will integrate EADS' Centergy Contact Center solution, including Centergy Remote and Centergy Reporting applications. Centergy can handle more than 1.5 million calls per hour in peak periods. This will enable IBM to meet such requirements as handling 250 calls per second for Sprint PCS.
Centergy's architecture allows for multiple contact centers to operate as one, regardless of geography. This consolidates data management and administration. Agents can be located anywhere they have telephone and Internet connections. The agents receive the same features and functionality whether they are in a major contact center, operating on other vendor platforms, or located remotely.
The announcement "proves that integration of multiple agent pools is a critical success factor to get one voice to the customer, and this proves that we can have a global call center community," says Kyle Priest, vice president of marketing at EADS.
EADS will be displacing call center products from Aspect, Nortel, and Rockwell, and providing the voice path, IVR, integrated workforce management, digital recording, and screen pops. According to Philippe Lecat, president and CEO of EADS Telecom North America, Sprint's customers will be routed to "the best available agent who will have immediate and accurate information about them, while Sprint managers will have constant, worldwide operational control from a single site."
This is the second such system deployed by Sprint that uses EADS' Centergy solution. Sprint Local Telephone Division has operated 6,000-plus agents on a single Centergy system since 2002.
The Sprint solution, however, is not IP-based. IP telephony has come to the forefront for its ability to be used globally at a fraction of the costs of previous PBX telephony systems. "There's no doubt IP has the potential to reduce costs in contact centers," says Jay Lassman, research director at Gartner. "You can deal with really one infrastructure that can support huge numbers of endpoints, and they can be anywhere. You can justify having a very distributed architecture under the control of one large host. [A company] can have one IVR that supports a good number of sites, so that's one point of service and one point to maintain."
Still, migrating to IP can be a slow process for large companies. "It's not necessary [to use pure VoIP]," Priest says. He also says that the EADS solution will leverage IP as a transport and will likely evolve to VoIP over time.
EADS and its commercial telecom division, dubbed Communication Information Networks, has grown to be the fifth largest in Europe and second largest in France in the enterprise telephony sector, with 7 percent and 30 percent market share, respectively. The company has had success in these markets, but there remains some uncertainty about its future. Last month, EADS announced that it is in advanced negotiations with Aastra Technologies to acquire its enterprise telephony business.
EADS executives could not comment on how the acquisition will affect its product line or customers. However, a deal is expected to close by the first quarter of 2005.
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Transactions: Customer Wins for October 26, 2004