APAC contact centers eye UC, hosted services

Contact center applications spend in region will grow slightly in 2009, with part of expenditure going to unified communications and hosted services, finds new report.

Despite the rough economy, the Asia-Pacific contact center market will continue to grow in 2009, according to a new report.

Released Monday, Frost & Sullivan's "Asia-Pacific Enterprises Continue to Spend on Customer Care" report noted the region's spend on contact center applications will grow 8 percent this year.

The forecast for 2009, however, is significantly lower than 2008's year-on-year growth of 14.8 percent which helped the market to reach US$763 million.

The report's authors--research analyst Kiran Kumar and industry manager Shivanu Shukla--said most markets in the region saw good growth in 2008 due to "rising domestic demand for customer care, increasing drive toward self-service, the focus on improving quality of customer experience and sustained growth in the outsourcing business from North America and Europe".

China's contact center applications market, in particular, grew more than 40 percent last year to reach US$108 million in revenues. This was due in part to the hosting of the Olympic Games in Beijing, which saw the Chinese government and enterprises undergo a contact center infrastructure refresh or expansion, noted Frost & Sullivan.

In 2009, Asia-Pacific contact centers are largely expected to continue to offer greater self-service as well as win local and regional outsourcing contracts, said the authors. Enterprises in the region will also continue consolidating their contact center infrastructure and embarking on IP (Internet Protocol) migration.

On top of that, the market analyst firm predicts that contact centers will start to deploy unified communications (UC). However, UC adoption is tipped to go mainstream only in 2010 and beyond.

Hosted contact center offerings will also be on the rise this year, said Frost & Sullivan. Subscription-based models provide small and midsize businesses a more attractive proposition during the current economic climate. At the same time, enterprises with large contact centers will be inclined to explore such options for their expansion needs. By end-2009, there will be close to 75,000 hosted seats in the Asia-Pacific region, the authors estimated.

Over the course of the year, enterprises will be more selective and cautious in spending on technology, said Frost & Sullivan. Contact centers will be forced to revisit their operational strategies to explore how they can cut costs by improving operations--larger facilities, in particular, will be interested in tapping on tools such as performance management and workforce management. Consulting services may also be tapped upon to identify ways to improve process efficiencies in contact centers.