American contact centers losing ground in the global outsourcing market

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Outsourced call centre agent positions in the United States are losing their share of the global market, according to new research by independent market analysis firm Datamonitor (DTM.L).

The report, "Contact Center Outsourcing in the United States," says that tight profit margins are driving outsourcers to move offshore and automate where viable. Canada, India and the Philippines are expected to be the beneficiaries. In a shrinking market, outsourcers are being forced to reinvent themselves by merging, partnering or competing with other types of companies in a bid to stay in the game and seize market share.

Nine out of ten jobs lost in the United States contact center outsourcing industry will be outbound telemarketing jobs

In 2004, 37% of the world's outsourced contact center agent positions were in the United States. By 2008, Datamonitor expects that number to shrink to 25%. In fact, the number of US agent positions is expected to drop from 315,000 in 2004 to 291,000 in 2008.

Nine out of ten jobs lost in the United States contact center outsourcing industry will be outbound telemarketing jobs, as a consequence of the Do-Not-Call registry and the higher revenues offered by inbound work. In addition, the number of agent positions in offshore and nearshore countries will continue to grow, due to the growing demand from US and captive market businesses.

Competition is driving firms to invade each others' territories

"The boundaries between US-based contact center providers and other business process outsourcers are dissolving, and firms are invading each others' territories," said Ri Pierce-Grove, associate analyst at Datamonitor. "There have been at least eight publicly announced acquisitions since 2003, and Datamonitor expects this trend to continue."

The report further points out that contact center outsourcers are introducing new services to grow revenue and compete more effectively in the US market. Firms that were founded as contact center outsourcers are offering services which overlap other business process outsourcing (BPO) areas, and BPO providers are acquiring contact center capability.

"As the market contracts through to 2009, it will be imperative for outsourcing service providers to choose between competing on the basis of cost or reinventing themselves," concludes Ri Pierce-Grove.

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