This is one software company that has positioned itself to capitalize on the
burgeoning opportunity provided by the BPO industry. Frost&Sullivan
Associates, an industry research organization, affirms Concerto's leadership
position according it a market share of two-thirds of the overall outbound
systems market in India. Worldwide, Concerto's leadership story in the inbound
systems market is also being written in letters of gold, even as the company
continues to add scale and capabilities through acquisitions.
For this company that was founded as Datavox Communications in 1981, mergers
and acquisitions have been the cornerstone of its growth strategy. And more so
in the last two years. Stewarding the company through this leadership phase is
James D Foy, president, chief executive and director, Concerto Software. Foy is
responsible for achieving the company's bold mission of becoming the dominant
global supplier of customer interaction management (CIM) solutions. With more
than three decades of experience in the software industry, Foy has held
leadership positions at software companies like Informix Software, Ardent
Software and Constellation Software.
Concerto's track record in India is impressive: over 75 BPO companies as
customers with nearly 20 of them won in the last one year. Unlike most software
companies, the Indian market is of greater critical importance to Concerto than
most other geographies. Presently, India already contributes 8% to the global
revenues of the company. Foy came to India to announce the opening of a $5 mn
software development center in Bangalore. In an exclusive interview with Iiswar
Daas Nair of Dataquest, Foy outlined the company's growth strategies and the
opportunities it has been chasing in the Indian market. Excerpts:
In light of the various mergers and acquisitions you have made, could you
elaborate on the strategic direction?
Early on in the year, we acquired Melita International and followed up with
three more during the course of the year. We have been acquiring companies to
get into complementary areas in CIM and will continue to do so in the future.
Through all these acquisitions, we have only accelerated our strategy and it has
bought has lot of credibility. Our only focus is the contact center market and
all our M&A activity neatly dovetails into claiming a leadership position in
What have been the gains from some of these acquisitions in the past?
As I said, earlier this year we acquired Melita International, a global
provider of products and services focused on maximizing contact center
effectiveness. This $145.2 mn deal has ensured that our revenues jump from $99.5
mn to $150 mn, while the customer base of the merged entity has increased to
1,800 from the present 1,200, and the worldwide employee strength has also seen
a 50% rise. The global synergies and product expansion resulting from this
merger further solidifies Concerto Software's position in the worldwide
outbound dialing market. The combined company will deliver expanded professional
services, have increased direct and indirect sales reach, provide a wider array
of solutions, and broaden its support infrastructure through centers of
excellence throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific. During 2003, we
also entered into a strategic partnership with leading CRM vendor Onyx to
develop joint sales and marketing initiatives for targeting the growing contact
center market in Asia. We also became a Microsoft Business Solutions ISV partner
whereby our EnsemblePro solution would complement Microsoft CRM.
Have all your acquisitions centered round new products that you are ready
to sell in the market?
As I said earlier, we have been acquiring companies to get into
complementary areas in CIM. For instance, from the acquisition of CenterForce
Technologies, we got into the performance optimization and workforce management
solutions. Given that one of most significant investments made in any contact
center is in the agents themselves, the addition of CenterForce would help us
deliver added value. Later we went in for Positive Software Systems to
strengthen our offerings in the outbound operations area with a product called
Enterprise Campaign Manager. Then, of course, we finalized the Rockwell
Firstpoint Contact last month.
What do you hope to get out of the Rockwell deal?
By combining our technologies and product streams, we will be able to meet
the needs of existing and new contact centers, whether they are traditional
voice or voice over IP. The idea is to be able to serve all the possible types
of contact center customers round the world-new companies that require a
tightly integrated, multichannel, multifunction solution or existing companies
that are looking at replacing or incrementally adding new functionalities. To
put it simply, our solutions directly help our customers in expanding their
service offerings. And that is strategic for them and so is our solution. This
is the difference between an industry-specific solution and mainstream IT.
When do you hope to consolidate?
The point to understand here is that the contact center industry that we
have chosen to serve is very dynamic. Contact centers are evolving very rapidly
and our solutions too have to. We cannot take time out to sit back and
consolidate. It is all done on the way. That's the truth about a dynamically
So in a nutshell, what are your offerings for the contact center market?
For greenfield projects, Concerto offers Concerto Unified Edition, based on
the EnsemblePro platform. For existing contact centers, Concerto offers Concerto
Enterprise Suite. This suite includes FirstPoint Enterprise Spectrum ACD, Unison
call management solution, Conversations Predictive Dialers, RighForce Workforce
Management, voice self-service and complete Internet capabilities, as well as
additional functionality that can be applied as business needs dictate.
How has the growing Indian contact center market fared for you?
Extremely exciting. Concerto added 20 new customers in India over the last
one year, which takes our client base to over 75 in this country. These include
well-known names like Spectramind, Daksh, GTL, Transworks, Zenta, ICICI
OneSource, Respondez, Infowavz, Prolease and iCall among others. Our solutions
including the flagship product, EnsemblePro currently caters to nearly 11,000 in
production call center seats and nearly 33,000 agents. We have also added
partners like IBM India Global Services and Wipro Infotech during the year and
apart from these two we are currently selling through GTL, Ramco Systems,
Network Solutions, Spanco Telesystems, Futuresoft and Bay Talkitec. Currently,
India contributes nearly 30-35% of Concerto's Asia-Pacific revenues and is the
second largest market for us after the US.
With India having become such a crucial market for Concerto Software, what
are your expansion plans here?
With a strong opportunity for growth in India, we are committed to making
significant investments, of around $5 mn both this year as well as in the coming
year, which can subsequently increase substantially. Our aim is to make India
the hub for the Asia-Pacific region. Already we have 50 people on board and by
mid next year we hope to have 150 people.