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Released August 18, 2004

SOUTHERN MISS GULF SOUTH CALL CENTER CONFERENCE
TO INTRODUCE UNIVERSITY RESOURCES FOR INDUSTRY

HATTIESBURG - The University of Southern Mississippi will position itself as the leader in resource information and services for the call center industry when the university hosts the Gulf South Call Center Conference Sept. 19-21 in Gulfport.

At the conference, university officials will announce the formation of three entities at Southern Miss focusing on the industry, including Information Incorporated, or I2, a Southern Miss Mississippi University Research Act company, the National Association of Call Centers and the Call Center Research Laboratory.

"Our goal is to not only professionalize, but also to raise the visibility of this industry and its importance to our global economy," said Dr. David Butler, director of the Southern Miss International Development doctoral program and the world's leading expert on the call center industry. Butler, the author of "Bottom-Line Call Center Management: Creating a Culture of Accountability and Excellent Customer Service," will be the featured speaker at the conference, which includes the theme "Staying Competitive in a Globalizing Industry."

I2 will be a leading company, providing university-created products and services from academic research and transforming them into high value-added products and services for the call center industry, and the NACC will be the only membership organization that's sole purpose is to promote the full call center industry, raise its visibility and value nationally, and lobby on its behalf, Butler said.

The Call Center Research Laboratory is designed to serve the call center industry nationally and internationally by evaluating products in this industry, providing large-scale research and associated reports that will set the tone, tempo and trajectory of this valuable industry. "This will be the only research lab in the world dedicated to this industry," Butler said.

I2 will take products and processes created at the university that are often never seen in the private sector and transform these products and processes into valuable and competitive tools for the industry. It will also be the medium through which Butler will interface with communities and companies on a one-on-one consulting basis.

NACC, a nonprofit organization, will be the professional organization for the call center industry, ranging from small, 10-person centers to megacenters that employ as many as 2,000 representatives. Membership in NACC will include equipment makers, vendors, outsource companies, consultants and anyone who is tied to the value chain of the industry, as well as those who lobby at the state and national levels on behalf of the industry, Butler said.

"Today's global environment has affected everything we do," said Ann John, a former call center director and current managing director of Leading Edge Consults, LLC. "In these times of change, it's even more important to stay on top of what's happening. While ours is a global industry, important relationships are still made by meeting people one on one, and the Gulf South Call Center Conference will be a great way to share ideas, understand trends and make new contacts."

The conference will be held at the Grand Casino Gulfport Conference Center and will be hosted by the Southern Miss Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development and the Center for International and Continuing Education. For more information, including registration and conference schedule details, call (601) 266-4186 or visit www.usm.edu/cice/ce/prodev/call/.

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September 8, 2004 3:04 PM