Lucent, Nortel shoot for simpler call centres

Lucent Technologies and Nortel Networks this week at Call Centre '99 in Dallas introduced products designed to simplify the management and reduce the costs of running call-centre sites.

Lucent announced its not-yet-named ATM-based solution, which will let a business combine multiple call centres into one system. Databases and administration tools will be extended among the various sites, instead of duplicated at each location, officials said.

Controlled introductions of the ATM solution are expected to begin during the fourth quarter, with general availability scheduled for the first quarter of 2000. Pricing was not available.

Lucent also announced its CentreVu Visual Analyst software, which brings together and analyses information from different sources within an enterprise. The Windows-based reporting solution collects information from a company's multiple databases and presents it in an interactive, graphical format. For example, call-centre managers can use the CentreVu Visual Analyst to view their call-centre performance data simultaneously with data from other parts of their business.

The product will be available in June, priced starting at $US30,000.

Meanwhile, Nortel Networks introduced Release 1.1 of Symposium Agent, which is designed to increase call-centre agent productivity by delivering more information and guiding agents through the call process. Release 1.1 incorporates agentTriggers, which enable customers to integrate applications from companies such as Microsoft, Siebel, Clarify, and Remedy into their call centres.

Pricing for the product is about $150 per seat, depending on configuration and the number of agents supported. It will be available in the first quarter of this year.

One analyst said he believes call-centre technology is improving.

"The trend is to allow for easier management decisions for call-centre managers, as well as lower total cost of ownership," said Jeff Snyder, an analyst at Dataquest.

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