Mansour Salame, Chairman of the Board and CEO, Contactual (News
) founded the company in 2004 and proceeded to implement new ideas that have proven to be central to Contactual’s success. These have included a commitment to the open source operating environment, expansion into the channel, technology licensing, and support of the virtual agent model. These policies drove significant new business for Contactual in 2005 and fostered relationships with partners in US, Japan and Australia.
Prior to establishing Contactual, Mansour was the founder and CEO of NextAge Technologies, a forecasting and scheduling software company acquired by Alcatel. Prior to NextAge Technologies, Mansour established and ran the Southern European Offices and Operations for Genesys (News
) Telecommunications Laboratories. Mansour started his career at Andersen Consulting, where he was instrumental in the call center vertical, helping Fortune 1000 companies structure and build innovative call centers. Mansour holds a Master of Science degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University and a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from Northwestern University.
Recently, Salame spoke with TMC (News
) about what Contactual had in store in 2009 and what was learned in 2008:
Looking back at 2008, how would you characterize the year for your company?
In a word, 2008 was transformational. It has been a very positive year. We are now growing faster, and grew faster in the second half than we did in the first half of 2008. Everything that happened in the financial industry has actually helped us, as companies look to reduce cost and be more nimble than on premise call center technology allows. History proves that when companies leave their on premise systems behind, they don’t go back. So this time, while certainly challenging for companies around the world, will have long lasting positive effects on our business.
What were the key trends that impacted your business?
VoIP adoption and wider acceptance of Software-as-a-Service for even mission critical systems impacted our business, as did the credit crunch. Many companies were forced to ask themselves if they should go hosted for their call center, and when they looked into it, they wondered why they didn’t consider it sooner.
What was your company’s biggest achievement in the past year?
We prepared and released version 6.0, which greatly enhanced the usability and flexibility of our software. Additionally, we opened new data centers in Canada and Europe.
What are your customers looking for in the coming year?
Our customers are looking for relief. They are being asked to do significantly more with less, and they have to take really good care of their customers. They also need to be more adaptable to their market conditions. Finally, they are much more focused on retention and customer satisfaction than growth. They want to solidify their base. This is in an environment where product differentiation is lessening, and the primary way to stem customer attrition is better service.
The most interesting part of this is our customers are finding that it is actually cheaper to give great customer care with a hosted solution than with their old, more expensive but less flexible on premise systems. We enable companies to interact more efficiently with better customer interactions with less cost.
What can we expect to see from your company in the next 12 months?
You will see several more partners for Contactual in 2009. Our partners are instrumental in helping our prospects understand the benefits of an on demand call center, and by offering our service to their customers; partners build stronger relationships with their customers and generate a new revenue stream.
Do you think a new administration in Washington, D.C. will be good for the communications industry? If so, how? If not, why not?
The way in which Barack Obama used a wide range of communications technologies to mobilize his constituents and keep voters informed is an excellent example of the new atmosphere of transparency, bi-directional communication and a focus on building relationships. His campaign interacted with people on the terms the people accepted rather than forcing everyone into one channel. Information was made specific and personal. Listening was given equal weight to telling. It is still too early to tell how his policies will affect the industry, but by his example, he is illustrating for everyone how instrumental a well-designed communication system can be to your success.
In your view, please describe the future of the IP Communications industry?
The IP communications industry’s future is similar to the current state of the car industry. It is important for companies to continually innovate. The current IP communications industry is not efficient and with companies looking for dramatic leaps in productivity, new and innovative companies will displace larger companies that choose to sit on older technology. There will be a changing of the guard.
If you had to make one bold prediction for 2009, what would it be?
In 2009, more than half of the Fortune 500 will investigate a hosted call center solution.
Jessica Kostek is a channel editor for TMCnet, covering VoIP, CRM, call center and wireless technologies. To read more of Jessica’s articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Jessica Kostek