Joint venture launches interactive TV market for business

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The number of digital services available through a TV is set to boom, following the launch of a new channel by Graham Technology and Energis.

Energis, a UK internet services provider and Graham Technology, the software developer, are joining forces to provide a common platform for the development of interactive TV. The new company will be 55% owned by Energis, 45% by Graham Technology.

Graham and Energis will provide the platform to corporates wishing to provide digital interactive TV-based services, via the set-top box. Energis is providing the network and hosting the services supporting the business; Graham has developed the software to enable customers to access utilities and banks via interactive TV.

The new channel will also combine integrated support for cable, Internet, EPOC, WAP and call centre services. The venture will enable any organisation to become a portal or a service provider. It will make the implementation of the customer TV channel faster and more scaleable, as well as cost-effectively deploying offerings for the digital satellite platform.

The technology is compatible with the latest internet and mobile commerce developments, allowing for opportunities to integrate seamlessly with other customer channels.

At the Call Centre Solutions exhibition in May this year, Graham’s GT-X software won the Call Centre Product of the Future award for its ability to integrate new media channels. Graham demonstrated how transactions can be carried out over EPOC, digital TV, WAP phones, Internet browsers and kiosks to provide seamless customer service.

“This new venture will generate opportunities on interactive TV for anything from online banking to self-service human resources,” said Iain Graham, CEO of Graham Technology. “Access to this new channel makes our GT-X the world’s first ‘every’ channel offering. We chose to work with Energis because of the sheer reliability of its network and we believe this is a partnership born in heaven.”

A number of portals are already committed to the new initiative. Zendor.com, the e-fulfilment business, set up by N Brown and GE Capital earlier this year, is the first company to agree to work with the new venture by offering fulfilment services to clients, as well as offering a portal for any new clients.

In turn, Zendor.com has already signed up a number of major retailers for its fulfilment services and is set to sign up others in the near future. It is likely that Graham Technology’s blue chip customers will be amongst the next to benefit, as they already have GT-X servers in place.

Keith Basnett, managing director of Zendor said: “The future of retailing depends on a multi-channel approach, and there’s no doubt that one of the most significant channels will be through digital TV.”

Founded in Scotland, Graham Technology has a global, blue-chip customer base serviced by offices in Sydney, Galway, Jakarta, Leeds and Glasgow. It has 150 employees based at its Glasgow headquarters. Blue-chip customers include; N Brown Group, Great Universal Stores, ScottishPower, BT, One2One, Chadwicks of Boston, and Eircom.

Energis is a FTSE 100 business telecommunications and internet company. Energis plc was founded in 1993 and is focused on the business marketplace. Major national clients include the BBC, Boots, Freeserve, Thomas Cook, Sainsbury and Whitbread. For the year ended 31 March 2000, Energis had revenues of $820 million and EBITDA of $153.2 million.

Zendor.com is a joint venture established by N Brown Group and GE Capital and based in Manchester, England.

Graham Technology

Energis

Zendor

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