HATTIESBURG - Call center
industry leaders desiring to remain competitive in the global marketplace
and grow their business can meet their goals with the help of The
University of Southern Mississippi.
That's because Southern Miss 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 Oct. 27-28.
The event, which was rescheduled from its original
September date because of Hurricane Ivan, will be held at the Southern
Miss Gulf Park campus in Long Beach.
"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.
The conference, featuring the theme "Staying
Competitive in a Globalizing Industry" will be co-hosted by
Southern Miss' Center for International and Continuing Education
and Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development.
At the conference, university officials will announce
the formation of three entities at Southern Miss focusing on the
call center 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
"Dr. Butler's efforts have made Southern Miss
an invaluable resource for companies seeking to improve the quality
of their customer service through their call center operations,"
said Southern Miss President Dr. Shelby Thames. "Dr. Butler's
work in the call center field is a prime example of the cutting-edge
research and development being done in economic development at Southern
Butler said the conference will provide the opportunity
to disseminate research information that has been produced within
the university in the last several years regarding the competitiveness
of locales and regions for call centers, and the economic development
associated with call centers. "We want to share this information
with people in attendance at the conference, and have them walk
away with more information and to remain or become more competitive
in this industry."
Butler will also address issues related to outsourcing
and offshoring in the call center industry, two topics that have
become hot-button issues in the upcoming presidential campaign with
relation to the national economy.
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
whose sole purpose is to promote the full call center industry,
raise its visibility and value nationally, and lobby on its behalf,
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
Call center operations represent a tremendous potential
for future economic growth in Mississippi, said Leland Speed, executive
director of the Mississippi Development Authority.
"It is imperative we capitalize on the opportunities
presented by this industry," Speed said. "Mississippi
has an advantage. Call center investment is moving into smaller
metropolitan areas, second-tier markets. We offer the same key elements:
available labor; low operating costs; access to a strong telecommunication
infrastructure; and available space.
LeadMark Services, a Nashville, Tenn., company providing
call center services, will be the launch customer for Information
Incorporated, according to Ross Edwards, founder of the company.
"When we say that we want to be an extension
of our clients and to be part of their overall team, we mean that
we will innovatively provide solutions for our clients," said
Edwards. "To that end, we have chosen to partner with Dr. David
Butler and Information Incorporated. LeadMark will take the lead
in the I2 program to set the pace and tone of call center excellence
in the coming years. We are very excited about the opportunities
that this partnership will provide for us, for I2 and for the industry
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."
For more information on this event, including registration
and conference schedule details, call (601) 266-4186 or visit www.usm.edu/cice/ce/prodev/call/.