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Middle East drives IP uptake in call centres

The lack of legacy call centre systems and a preference for the latest and greatest technologies is leading Middle East contact centres to migrate towards IP solutions, reports Datamonitor.

The Middle East market looks set to lead the migration to IP within call centre environments, according to statistics from Datamonitor. Although the analyst group reports that IP contact centres in the EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africa) region only account for 3% of the total market, this figure is expected to quadruple by 2007.

Current IP call centre solutions are more suited to small deployments and this in combination with the relative immaturity of the regional call centre market, means IP is set to prosper in the local market.

“France, the UK and Germany will dominate the market in EMEA, but the fastest growth and uptake is on the fringe, in developing markets like Southern & Eastern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East,” says Evan Kirchheimer, lead analyst, contact centres & CRM, Datamonitor.

“Because they [operations in the Middle East] are going to be newer and coming from scratch… it is more likely that these call centres will be based on IP architecture than call centres in the UK, France or Germany,” he adds.

One of the key reasons that IP is becoming the architecture of choice in the regional market is the lack of legacy systems and the tendency among enterprises or service providers to opt for the latest and greatest technologies.

However, Kirchheimer reveals that traditional TDM switching solutions remain popular within large contact centre environments, particularly those of banks or telcos, due to the robustness and reliability of the technology.

“The reason the migration to IP has been slow is that the current TDM architecture works perfectly well. Many call centres have invested a lot in traditional switching and infrastructure and it is built to last 15 years… so their investment is going viable for many years to come,” he says.

“[Also,] IP hasn’t really been proven as a robust technology in larger call centre environments. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a good technology, it just means that there aren’t enough reasons for large mission critical call centres, like those of the banks or telcos [to deploy IP,]” continues Kirchheimer.

Consequently, the overall average call centre size is 50-60 seats, while the average IP call centre is only 20-30 seats.

Furthermore, the cost savings that vendors are touting as one of the key reasons to migrate to IP are also exaggerated, according to the Datamonitor analyst. Kirchheimer explains that a combination of falling prices for TDM infrastructure and its lower maintenance overheads are offsetting the potential costs savings of IP solutions.

“In a lot of cases IP is not necessarily less costly than traditional solutions. One reason is that traditional switching is coming down in price. Also, to get IP reliability levels up, a lot of redundancy is needed. Plus, centres are basically installing a new network and that in itself requires maintenance and although traditional telephony architecture requires maintenance, it is very robust and, as such, it requires less upkeep than IP,” he explains.

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