Saudi company develops IT system from scratch

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Jeddah based Frontliners had the first mover advantage. As one of the first contact centers to be set up in the Kingdom, when the company management decided to set up a new technology infrastructure it had to be done vigilantly.

Frontliners had an advantage that it was a green site, and therefore had no legacy systems. “The company required a radical rethink in terms of IT. Whilst the site was green, there were few, if any, prior examples for contact center set ups in Saudi. Both ourselves and the customer had a steep learning curve and only one chance to get it right,” says Abdulrahman Al Qanzal, general manager of 3i Solutions.

The contact center evaluated proposals from a number of IT vendors before opting for a Sun Microsystems and 3i solution.

Frontliners considered different technology solutions before settling in for a solution to meet the basic needs of hardware. “The implementation should be able to provide more value and increase potential revenues by providing data services and analysis to clients. The industry has not yet matured here therefore customer demands are not sophisticated. Despite this we wanted to do it differently and lead the market by implementing business intelligence (BI) and data warehousing,” claimed Julien Durand, GM at Frontliners.

As a first step 3i mapped out a design for the data warehousing and call center based on the requirements of the management and staff. The structured cabling infrastructure for the LAN was first implemented onsite for current and future expansion including testing and commission. Communication equipment and servers were installed and configured to support the entire network. The integration between different systems-Sun/Microsoft and contact center application ‘Altitude’ was done in the last stage.

After observing the success of call centers in India, the management at Frontliners wanted to leverage on the same kind of success with the installation of BI tools and data warehousing solutions. By utilizing these solutions they can learn about end-user insights and also future proofing their investments in IT.

In co-operation with Sun Microsystems, and regional channel development provider Tech Access, 3i Solution deployed a hardware and software solution at a Jeddah call center operated by Frontliners. The new technology infrastructure, included the initial provision of 50 Sun Ray thin clients, enabling staff at the 24-hour call center run by Frontliners, to provide voice, email, fax and SMS outsourced solutions for different companies in the country.

Staff at the multi-channel, multi-lingual call center staffed by Saudi nationals, are able to handle between more than 15,000 calls a day. Frontliners customers can now receive daily online reports and also be offered data warehousing and business intelligence services as result of the Sun deployment.

The solution was multilingual therefore required documenting processes and training staff. “We ensured that project managers on both sides were up to the task. Whilst the majority of the work at the call center is in Arabic, the significant number of expatriates in the Kingdom meant that other languages would be needed as well,” says Al Qanzal. The contact center provider was able to evaluate a live mock-up of the solution at Tech Access’ million dollar i-Force test center located at its Dubai Internet City offices.

Even for the system integrator this was the first time they were working with a contact center in the region. According to 3i, the solution was unique as the IT support were few in terms of maintenance problems as Sun Ray Thin Clients solution with smart cards were being used. “Agents have the flexibility of mixing and move desks to use anywhere. They are able to access their work, files and documents anywhere thereby having a free seating environment,” explained Al Qanzal.

“In Saudi Arabia the concept of call centers is new and the early adopters were banks followed by the telecom sector. With any new concept training courses were also required at Frontliners for the employees and their respective positions. This was related more to the idea about what a call center should be rather than the IT itself. We sat down with the client to discuss how they wanted to train the staff and make use of the BI solutions,” says Al Qanzal.

Even for Frontliners it was easier to start from scratch. “As the contact center industry is new to the Kingdom and therefore it was a challenge finding the right caliber of people. IT has helped monitoring our staff and enabled us to provide them with the necessary training and skill sets,” states Durand.

As they move forward, Frontliners will continue its present set of clients primarily belonging to banking, financial and FMCG sector. Its present team of 300 employees the call center is also looking at expanding its service portfolio which presently includes voice, email, fax and SMS communication to clients. Brand awareness, general marketing activities and customer relationship support are also provided using BI tools.

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