Put call centre chiefs in buying seat

IT departments that look after call centres can make mistakes that cost businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars in unwanted and disused technology.

Anthony Seaegg, director for Datacom customer contact, said IT departments should take a step back to an advisory role and let call centre managers call the shots on technology purchases.

"IT departments should be integration specialists and should be able to advise whether a technology will deliver the outcomes. Too often I see large organisations waste between $600,000 and $1.2 million on technology that they don't use.

"For each dollar a company spends on a call centre system, it costs another $3 to integrate it."

Seaegg said costs spiral when IT departments suggest solutions that need modification for integration, or fail to live up to expectations and are simply not used.

IT departments should move away from their traditional role as the purchaser of technology when call centres are involved.

John McKibbin, executive general manager, information services for Royal & SunAlliance Insurance, agrees in part that IT departments do make costly technology implementation mistakes within call centres.

However, McKibbin believes these problems can be overcome by a team approach on technology decisions.

"There should be collaboration and decisions taken in a balanced way. If call centres alone made the decision there is the danger the emphasis would be on the functional side with the possibility of overlooking a showstopper in technology."

According to's 2001 Australia and New Zealand Call Centre Industry Benchmark study, $1.4 billion is spent on technology within the call centre sector; 16 per cent of all expenditure within the information and communications technology industry.

Seaegg said people are using technology to solve a problem, but the right way to go about optimising call centres is by looking at the people first, then the processes and then using technology as an enabler.

"If you cannot optimise your call centre technology, you may as well wash it down the drain."