Lucent Technologies has linked with CS Communications & Systems, a French company specialising in call centres, to profit from the call centre boom in France, where annual growth is estimated at 50 per cent per year.
With Datamonitor predicting that the European call centre market will double by 2002, the companies said they see opportunities in home shopping, particularly ecommerce via IP telephony - or what Lucent chief executive Richard McGinn describes as, ?realtime voice interaction?.
Ian Ashby, Lucent's director for Western Europe, said there was, "huge European interest in electronic commerce. With the spread of multimedia enabled PCs, shoppers will click onto web pages and then talk to agents."
He said competitors in Germany included Siemens and Aspect, with the latter strong in the UK. Britain, where growth in agent positions is running at the rate of 30 per cent a year and the Netherlands he saw as the most sophisticated European markets. Lucent, the spin off from AT&T, claims to be the leading equipment supplier to high end call centres in Europe, defined as those with more than 70 agent positions.
Alain Wiedmer, managing director of Lucent's business communications systems France, said: "The deal has a European dimension for CS to become a force both inside and outside of France in the integration of call centre networks."
CS Communications and Systems has already set up 200 call centres in France, totalling 8,000 agent positions, while around 30 per cent of its FFr3.2 billion ($570 million) annual turnover is now outside France.
However, CS is planning to expand its overseas focus. Britain is top of the list, as the largest market in Europe for call centres, particularly in the retail, banking, insurance, entertainment and travel markets.
Datamonitor at the end of 1997 said Britain had 3,560 centres with 162,600 agent positions, with these two figures set to rise respectively to 5,050 and 243,000 by the end of 2000. Germany had 65,000 agent position and France 59,600, with these figures also expected to grow substantially.
Lucent, whose French clients include IBM, the credit card company Cofinoga and mobile phone companies such as Cegetel and Bouygues, said French growth was now strongest in the provinces.
Wiedmer stated: "Provincial cities see high end call centres as excellent job providers. IBM's large centre at Orleans is an example.?
Cotton seedling freezes to death as Chang'e-4 shuts down for the Moon's 14-day lunar night
Fortnite easily out-earns PUBG, Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018
Meteor showers as a service will be visible for about 100 kilometres in all directions
Saturn's rings only formed in the past 100 million years, suggests analysis of Cassini space probe data
New findings contradict conventional belief that Saturn's rings were formed along with the planet about 4.5 billion years ago