The recent economic downturn in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) exerted a significant restraining effect on the sales of agent performance optimisation (APO) tools in the contact centre market. This situation prevailed in the core segments of the market – quality monitoring (QM)/call recording and workforce management (WFM) software – as well. The market is now slowly recovering with projections for future growth.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (http://www.contactcenter.frost.com), Contact Centre Systems Markets in EMEA, finds that the markets earned revenues of €670.9 million in 2010 and estimates this to reach €1074.0 million in 2017. The report covers six product segments: inbound contact routing systems, interactive voice recorder (IVR) and voice portal systems, outbound dialler systems, quality monitoring systems, workforce management software and contact centre analytics.
“The decline in APO tools mirrored a similar decline in the automatic call distribution (ACD) market, to which APO sales are strongly linked,” elaborates Frost & Sullivan Senior Industry Analyst Suvradeep Bhattacharjee. “The decline can also be attributed to the historical resistance to recording and WFM in the major EMEA countries, especially Germany.”
Growth in the outlying regions in the East and South were not able to offset the downturn in the major western countries. Currently, however, the scenario is more upbeat with the market making a gradual recovery.
“The contact centre systems market in western Europe is relatively mature, although eastern Europe, Russia and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) as well as the Middle East and Africa will experience higher growth rates starting 2011 due to the demand from outsourcers and financial services sector,” says Bhattacharjee. “Growth in western Europe will come mainly from the public sector and from outsourcers.”
The market is maturing at different rates in different countries within EMEA. For instance, there is a labour cost differential between the East and West, and, between the North and South. This is motivating some regions such as eastern Europe and the Middle East to build Greenfield, high-volume centres with advanced capabilities to leverage local low-cost labor for outsourcers.
The key market challenge for all Tier 1 vendors of contact centre systems will be to find and expand into the underpenetrated countries outside the core markets of western Europe like the UK and Germany.
“These large contact centre systems companies are already subject to very diverse national contact centre climates: different languages, privacy regulations, labour/management relationships and consumer markets,” remarks Bhattacharjee. “Overall, therefore, companies have to contend with a contact centre environment that is much more fragmented than North America’s.”
A declining economy has put pressure on all companies to innovate in order to displace competitors and gain market share. Most QM tools in EMEA are sold through reseller channels. As the tools become more sophisticated, vendors are relying on channel partners to quickly get up to speed on the feature/function changes and the multiplying options that customers face.
“To succeed, Tier 1 contact centre systems companies should compete aggressively with local incumbent vendors,” advises Bhattacharjee. “They should also compete with each other for access to channel partnership networks.”