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GFC extended UC upgraded cycle, opportunities returning: Plantronics

GFC extended UC upgraded cycle, opportunities returning: Plantronics

Headset vendor is seeing call centre sector focus on attracting and retaining talent.

The communications market typically moves in seven year cycles, but Plantronics found the 2007 cycle has extended due to the Global Financial Crisis.

Enterprise product marketing vice president, Chris Thompson, said this resulted in an infrastructure install base that became "deferred."

“The 2007-09 period was not a good period to be selling anything to anybody,” he said.

Not only was there a delay in upgrading in the customer service space, Thompson said the enterprise communications business was also affected.

“We have legacy infrastructure, usually first generation IP and converged network technology, that needs to be substituted or replaced,” he said.

Thompson highlights the large Nortel install base that continues to exist, even though the company ceased operations in 2009.

Companies such as Cisco have been targeting the Nortel install base over the years, though Thompson said the changeover has recently started to gain momentum.

“This situation is influencing purchasing behaviour in enterprise communications,” he said.

“In customer service, it is causing a change in the vendor mix, as the vendor landscape has changed significantly over the last decade.”

The smarter call centre

What the GFC has not dampened is a growing need by business to streamline and improve its operation.

Thompson said the focus in North America is on attracting and retaining talent, in Europe it is being driven by cost reduction, while in Asia it is a mix and varies between countries.

The drive to consolidate facilities, bring costs down, and attract and retain talent is part of an approach Thompson dubs “smarter working,” and it extends to unified communications.

Read more: Firewalls need to go beyond just prevention: Cisco

“The talent required in the modern customer service centre is well beyond the talent required 20 years ago,” he said.

Thompson said the call centre role has evolved from just answering calls and processing transactions to a "skilled job."

“The staff are required to think and an investment needs to be made to keep them,” he said.

Patrick Budmar covers consumer and enterprise technology breaking news for IDG Communications. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_budmar.

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