What the papers say...

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Two interesting examples of patriotic prejeudice crept into the CRM market this week, one amusing, one slightly less so.

Let's start with the amusing one. It concerns SAP's announcement that it's revenues have slipped this quarter, unfortunate timing for the company given that both Siebel and Oracle have finally turned in some promising figures after quarter on quarter of decline.

The reason for this is currency fluctuations, according to SAP, and if it wasn't for those revenues would have risen 4 per cent. This is part of the black arts practised by financial types that have perpetually baffled me. To my simple, non-numeric mind, it's akin to that old cliche of "if my uncle had breasts, he'd be my auntie', but there you go - it makes sense on Wall Street, so that's OK.

What is amusing is the reaction to the news and the way it's being reported on either side of the pond. In Germany, SAP - which is you will recall German and does its books in Euros - said the currency problems were attributable to a weak dollar. Anyone who's been on holiday to the US lately will testify happily to that.

The US press appears to have a different notion. According to trade mag Infoworld "The strong euro is beginning to mess up the balance sheet of Europe's largest software company." Er, come again? IDG.com expands on this "Strong Euro tarnishes SAP's preliminary Q4 results." Oh I see, it's not the sinking dollar, but the rising Euro that's to blame for a European software firm not doing as well as expected.

Now I know from personal experience of working there, that the US trade press are all too ready to paper over the cracks and sing to the party hymn sheet, but this is ludicrous. But given the current 'Fortress America' climate in the US, maybe it's understandable that no-one wants to acknowledge in print that the dollar's on its uppers.

Mind you, this is as nothing compared to the fervour that's been whipped up by last week's report which found that UK call centres gave better performance results than their cheaper Indian counterparts.

Over in India, the reaction has been hysterical - and I don't mean in the 'ha ha ha' sense of the word. "Desperate Brits trash India call centres in report" announces the Economic Times India, which then abandons any pretence of impartiality to declare:

"Desperate Brits are trying every trick they know of to save their call centre industry which has been given a bloody nose by Indians. After singing protest carols, collecting cash to polish skill sets and government-funded infrastructure upgrades, they have pulled out the age-old trick of the propagandist - a survey that trashes Indian call centres".

Of course offshore outsourcing is a hugely contentious issue at the moment, but the debate over it is not likely to be helped by the obviously (and understandbly) partisan leanings of the media on both sides of the debate. In the coming weeks at Customer Management Forum, we'll be looking more closely at some the arguments surrounding the offshore debate and hearing from some experts in this area.

We'd like to hear your views. This is a debate of major national and international importance. Make your voice heard. Whichever side of the fence you sit on.

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By admin
15th Jan 2004 23:07

Would one of the companies making the shift to India like to tell us succinctly and honestly, why..is it all just about money ? If it is surely companies are going to learn soon that cheapest isn't always the best ?

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15th Jan 2004 19:56

The reality of this research is that Indian contact centres on average deal with and close fewer calls on average than UK equivalents. However, they also answer the phone a lot quicker, and get paid one-eighth a UK agent's salary. But the press has taken only one side of it...

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By admin
16th Jan 2004 00:34

I don't see why any of the perspectives on currency movements are jingoistic... SAP and its US observers are saying the same thing. The dollar is weak relative to the euro and vice versa. The strong dollar used to hurt US exports and now a weak dollar should hurt imports--that's the way it goes.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By admin
15th Jan 2004 23:07

Would one of the companies making the shift to India like to tell us succinctly and honestly, why..is it all just about money ? If it is surely companies are going to learn soon that cheapest isn't always the best ?

Thanks (0)
avatar
By skahn
19th Jan 2004 10:50

I think the point is that it may well be just economics but it's the emphasis that reveals much, about corporate America. So much difficulty is encountered by any nonUS software firm making a break in the US. SAP is really the only firm to do so. It's also about the inabilty of the US to see a US glass half empty - it's obviously not the fauilt of their own economy, must the ruddy foreigners...

Thanks (0)
avatar
By admin
16th Jan 2004 00:34

I don't see why any of the perspectives on currency movements are jingoistic... SAP and its US observers are saying the same thing. The dollar is weak relative to the euro and vice versa. The strong dollar used to hurt US exports and now a weak dollar should hurt imports--that's the way it goes.

Thanks (0)
avatar
15th Jan 2004 19:56

The reality of this research is that Indian contact centres on average deal with and close fewer calls on average than UK equivalents. However, they also answer the phone a lot quicker, and get paid one-eighth a UK agent's salary. But the press has taken only one side of it...

Thanks (0)
avatar
By skahn
19th Jan 2004 10:50

I think the point is that it may well be just economics but it's the emphasis that reveals much, about corporate America. So much difficulty is encountered by any nonUS software firm making a break in the US. SAP is really the only firm to do so. It's also about the inabilty of the US to see a US glass half empty - it's obviously not the fauilt of their own economy, must the ruddy foreigners...

Thanks (0)