Saint John firm gets $330,000 to build call centre app

Saint John, N.B.-based Ambir Technology Group Inc. has picked up $330,000 in federal funding which it will use to build an automated remote infrastructure management application.


The IT services and application development firm said its software, currently being developed under the “Augrey Project” codename, will simplify the technical support of off-shore call centres and allow technical staff to manage these centres remotely.


The company received the cash as part of the National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program.


“Right now it’s a very manually intensive process to do troubleshooting in the contact centre space,” said John Munro, vice-president of sales and marketing for Ambir. “If you have calls that stop going through to your centre, it could be because the switch on your customer premise is down; a trunk is down on the network; there’s a problem with the long distance provider; or there’s some other data network transport issue.”


All of these issues require very experienced and knowledgeable staff members to be on-site, he added.


With its application, Ambir hopes to capture all the infrastructure and product knowledge required to keep a call centre up and package it into a secure application that doesn’t require human intervention. The finished application aims to automatically fix simple software issues and flag complex problems to technicians working in your IT shops, as opposed to overseas.


“It’s about getting more competitive by using technology to replace labour cost,” Munro added, referring to off-shore technicians.


For Canadian-based companies, Ambir said this will allow organizations to employ high-value computer specialists in Canada.


Additionally, Ambir’s project will also lead to a preconfigured offering for small and medium-sized business looking for a tool that automatically manages issues for vendor-specific technologies.


Saint John MP Rodney Weston officially announced the financial grant at an event on Monday. He was acting on behalf of Cambridge, Ont. MP Gary Goodyear, the junior minister for sciences and technology.


Because the call centre industry is so mobile and will basically move to where it can find the cheapest labour, Weston said the best way to stay ahead of the game is to offer technology that will deliver a competitive edge to call centres, but also keep desirable jobs in Canada.


“This has great potential in the call centre industry and to keep some high-level, quality tech jobs right here in Saint John and Canada,” said Weston.


While the project would probably have been able to go forward without the grant, the additional funding will speed up development tremendously, Munro said.


“Overall the investment for the project is around $550,000 to $600,000,” he said. “Without this grant, given the size of our company, it would take twice as long to fund that through internal cash flow and investment. So it’s really accelerates our ability to get to market.”


He added that an alpha or early beta release is expected to be ready later this summer.

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