May 2007 - Channel Crossing: Teleservices

Proprietary Systems vs. Best-of-Breed Solutions

By David Meine

At the heart of every successful company there are technologies that enable management, investors and employees to run the business successfully. Currently, this debate runs high at my company: What systems should we develop and what systems should be bought from best-of-breed solution providers?

During the past five years, I have become educated in the direct response industry, learning just how critical technology infrastructure is between vendors. This list includes creative marketing, media companies, consultants, contact centers, fulfillment companies, coaching organizations and various other support organizations.

At the end of the day, what is it that we in the direct response industry really support and do? I propose that it is sell, sell and sell! And it is precisely this philosophy that drives our organization’s decisions on technology.

An effective inbound call center really is two things: a skilled sales organization and a sophisticated technology company. These centers are required to process and store amazing amounts of information on every call. Then they have to provide real-time reports on the disposition of every call. The operations team needs summary data on each particular project in five-minute segments. The media companies, product owners and fulfillment companies also require this data in real-time.

What is the evolution that has been occurring over the past five years? For companies to be competitive, they must create and maintain data warehouses. For IT departments, this is a tremendous effort. Everyone is demanding more and more information-and wants it yesterday. We spent a year deciding whether to build a proprietary system or buy best of breed. After extensive research, we concluded that we should purchase a best of breed.

The final analysis showed that in regard to a data warehouse, the following elements had to be considered.

  1. How much information is stored on a daily basis?
  2. How configurable must the reporting system be?
  3. What types of computers are necessary to process the requests for reporting information?
  4. What database will be used?
  5. What is the configuration necessary for redundancy?
  6. Does the solution need to be web based?
  7. Does the organization use multiple database vendors for its different systems?

We have seven major IT systems and we decided to buy six of them from best-of-breed solution providers. The one proprietary system we decided to keep and develop gives us the optimum opportunity to provide the highest conversions possible.

In summary, I suggest companies should consider investing the majority of their IT dollars into best-of-breed solutions. If your organization has talented IT programmers, it should pick one system that will make its company different from any of its competitors. That difference should provide the direct response industry with the best IT system that helps sell the most products or services to consumers each and every day.

David Meine is CEO of O’Currance Teleservices in Salt Lake City, Utah. He can be reached at (801) 736-0500, or via e-mail at [email protected].


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