By Sramana Mitra and guest author Shaloo Shalini
We have here an interesting cloud adoption use case with generous insights into the world of a large global business process outsourcing (BPO) enterprise, TeleTech, which manages global-scale contact centers. Over the past seven years, through private cloud adoption, TeleTech has not only moved to the next level of operational efficiency; it could also enter into a new line of business of on-demand outsourcing by playing to its strengths in contact center management and using cloud computing. We saw another similar example of creation of a new line of business through cloud adoption at Cycle30 in one of our earlier interviews in this series.
In this interview, Sramana and Carol Kline, CIO of TeleTech, explore blue-sky opportunities in the context of BPO and contact center customer support functions in the realm of cloud computing, especially crowdsourcing. Social CRM (see Gartner Magic Quadrant) and analytics are a big piece in this domain – as is technology that arms the players with a cutting edge and business differentiation.
Carol Kline is the VP and CIO at TeleTech with more than 20 years of experience in managing dynamic technology environments and global operations. She is responsible for driving TeleTech’s IT strategy and operations, including the launch of the company’s next generation of technology innovation.
Prior to TeleTech, she was with EchoStar, where she served as the VP of operations. There she oversaw DISH Network’s customer management centers and installation service networks. She has worked in the with America Online and Qwest Communications in senior executive roles with global responsibility. Kline holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio, and an MBA in marketing and business policy from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.
TeleTech was founded in 1982 by Kenneth D. Tuchman, and today it is a global business process outsourcing company that provides customer management, transaction-based processing, database marketing services, professional sales, and and e-commerce services to Global 1000 companies in automotive, communications and media, financial services, government, healthcare, retail, technology, and travel & leisure. Teletech helps its clients to improve their customers’ experience and operate more efficiently to better serve, grow, and retain their customer base. It has over a billion dollars in annual revenues and more than 42,000 employees working in 67 delivery centers in 16 countries.
SM: Welcome to Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing series, Carol. Let’s begin with your giving us some background on you and your company, then we will jump into the cloud computing discussion. In general, what I would like to understand is the size of the company, the revenue level, the scale of the IT operations – those kinds benchmarks.
CK: Let me just start, and push me around where you want to go. TeleTech is a more than billion-dollar publicly traded company. The company has been around for 28 years. The founder, CEO Kenneth Tuchman, started the company, and he is still actively involved in the business every day. At the core, we are a global business process outsourcer with more than 40,000 employees around the globe. In the technology business, not only do we support the internal company TeleTech, but about five years ago we also created an on-demand hosted business where we provide technology support for our existing BPO clients. We serve also pure technology offering clients. In the IT organization, we have fewer than 1,000 people. We have a mix of those that are sitting at our more than 50 delivery sites around the globe and a global development center down in Argentina. We also have a mix of engineering and operations support people here in Denver.
SM: Could you talk a bit more about what kind of business processes you provide outsourcing services for?
CK: Our core business surrounds the customer experience. At the technology level, it is the contact center or contacts. So, it is not always the center, but managing contacts that help people, predominately in revenue generation, customer management, customer support, and customer care. Our world is the customer. We are not necessarily providing back office support for enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems as an example. Our life is the full life circle of the customer and we help business retain, grow, and acquire customers.
SM: Got it! What about regions? You said you have 50 delivery centers around the world. What is the geographical spread?
CK: We have 67 delivery centers. There is a fairly large footprint in North America, both in the United States and in Canada down to Central and South America – Mexico, Costa Rica, Brazil and Argentina. We also have a large presence in the Philippines. We are in Australia, Spain, and UK. We have a presence in Malaysia as well.
SM: In the United States, do you have multiple centers?
CK: We do. These are delivery centers. Think about call centers, right? We have multiple delivery centers throughout the United States. Our client base is predominantly North American with fulfillment around the globe, although we do have an international presence. We have some of the largest telecom customers around the globe, quite frankly. I forgot to mention, we are also in Africa, in Ghana.
SM: Okay, with that perspective let us dive into what is . . .
CK: Can I tell you a little bit about me first?
SM: Of course!
CK: I grew up in telecommunications, primarily in the local telecommunications but from the customer care and strategy side and then in the network operations side. I worked for Ameritech, US West and then Qwest Communications. In 2003, I moved to northern Virginia, where I was the CIO of AOL – America Online. I came back to Denver as the head of global operations for DISH Networks, the satellite provider, and then I joined TeleTech in 2008 as their CIO. I run TeleTech’s on demand business.
SM: Are you from Denver originally?
CK: I’m from Ohio. I lived in Cleveland, and my first job was in Cleveland. I moved to the Chicago area, to the headquarters with Ameritech and Hoffman Estates. I came to Denver when I worked for US West, and I was here for five years. Then I lived in northern Virginia for four and came back here.
SM: Great! With that background, can you now take us through your thinking about cloud computing? What is TeleTech’s overall cloud computing adoption strategy?
CK: I gave you a feel of the footprint of where TeleTech fulfills and where some of our customers are from the BPO business perspective. In 2002, we looked at the footprint of where we served our clients. We had technology sitting in many of those locations that I just mentioned, anchored in the contacts center space. Well, think about a voice which is at 80 delivery sites at that time, and systems to support the core recording, workforce management reporting, and infrastructure that was everywhere around the globe. Around 2003, we went on a journey to build our private cloud. For us, it is not just thinking about cloud computing; we have been doing this for the last seven years. Quite frankly, we have been centralizing our infrastructure since then to create a private cloud. We have built what we have trademarked as TeleTech’s GigaPOPs. GigaPOPs are our centralized data centers. We also run a global virtual MPLS network. I run 2 billion minutes of VOIP plus on an annual basis, where we then support all of our 40,000 agents around the globe through this centralized virtualized infrastructure. For us, it has been a journey that we have been on for longer than one may think, with all of these third-party technologies that we use and some of our proprietary IP that we have built in a private cloud.