Western European banks and insurers will invest a combined $3.2bn in call centre systems by the end of 2007, according to IDC.
The analyst predicts that banks will invest $2.8bn and insurance companies $351m, resulting in a 2002-2007 compound annual growth rate of six per cent and 3.9 per cent, respectively.
The increase in financial companies' IT investments reflects ongoing growth in the call centre market, prompted mainly by major initiatives aimed at enhancing customer relationships and lowering distribution costs.
"IT players offer a wide range of solutions for call centre operations, and their strategies are increasingly aggressive," said Mirko Corbetta, research analyst for IDC's Financial Services group.
The study, Call Centers: The Move Towards Contact Centers and Integration with Other Channels, reveals that that call centres are the third most used channel in the European financial services market.
In the future they are expected to emerge as a strategic channel supporting a range of business processes, including marketing, customer support and sales.
IDC expects that IT solutions which can integrate data and work flows across channels will become an investment priority over the next three years because the level of integration among distribution channels is still limited.
Another IT area poised for growth on the back of this call centre expansion is expected to be performance management offerings, which will become "increasingly critical" as financial companies need to evaluate the real value-add that call centres offer compared with other channels.
The research indicated that outsourcing is increasingly used to drive down costs, but IDC warned that going down this road requires strong integration with the entire organisation to maintain a high level of service for customers and to offer them multi-channel access.
This is particularly true for UK banks, according to the analyst, which are increasingly using offshore outsourcing to cut call centre costs.
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