'We are investing $5 mn in India this year'

DQI Bureau
New Update

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.

James D Foy

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

this market.

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

evolving industry.

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.