Successful Cork business process outsourcing (BPO) player Abtran has formed a research partnership with the Cork Constraint Computation Centre (4C) at UCC to develop next-generation BPO systems.
The project is being funded through the Innovation Partnership Programme which involves financial investment by Abtran and funding from Enterprise Ireland and forms part of Abtran’s ongoing €6-million investment in a new Learning & Innovation Centre at the Irish company’s Cork headquarters where 800 staff are now employed.
Founded in 1997 with six employees, Abtran has grown to become Ireland’s largest indigenous business process outsourcer with a projected turnover in excess of €40 million in 2010.
Addressing the Cork Chamber of Commerce this morning, Abtran’s managing director, Michael Fitzgerald, said the Abtran and 4C collaboration will help to position Ireland as a centre of excellence in the €300-billion global business processes industry.
“This innovation partnership with UCC will establish Cork as a centre of excellence for shared services through R&D and innovation,” Fitzgerald explained. “It will help to create a value-added network between business, universities and the public sector to deliver smart solutions with strong market potential.”
Abtran’s Learning & Innovation Centre has a team of highly innovative and creative individuals drawn from both the business and higher education sectors. The centre researches, develops and tests new technologies and services in a low-risk environment using established R&D techniques and practices.
Abtran 4C partnership’s target
The strategic aim of the Abtran 4C partnership is to combine expertise around the development of next-generation technologies to dramatically improve and innovate in the delivery of business services.
The research link-up will seek to reduce or remove operational constraints and limitations experienced by business process providers and their clients. The project will involve research into advanced technologies and processes for the contact centre industry, including data mining and artificial intelligence.
Areas to be studied include ‘intelligent call checking’, ‘early warning systems’ and systems for ‘predictive behaviour’ in managing contact-centre performance and customer interactions. The project will test complex sets of mathematical algorithms developed by 4C against data based on real business scenarios collected from Abtran’s operations.
“We expect the findings of our research to be converted into new business development, jobs creation and even better service delivery by Abtran in shared-service partnerships with our clients,” Fitzgerald explained.
“We intend that this innovation will contribute strongly to Ireland’s growing reputation as a world-class destination for internationally traded services.”
“This project is very much a product of our Learning & Innovation Centre. We intend to create innovative, sustainable and scalable efficiencies which will transform the way our clients do business, improving quality of delivery, increasing overall competitiveness and contributing further to Ireland’s overall economic growth.”
About the work of 4C
Prof Eugene Freuder, director of Cork Constraint Computation Centre, explained that the work of 4C involves the creation of intelligent computer systems which support better decision making and help to solve problems more rapidly.
“As well as discovering new techniques and processes, it is very important for research to be of benefit to industry and the economy.
“In Abtran, we see a commercially focused company capable of translating research into business growth and new market opportunities.”
Enterprise Ireland’s involvement with Abtran
Abtran is a client of Enterprise Ireland’s scaling programme which supports companies that have the potential for rapid and steady growth to quickly achieve international scale and become significant employers and global leaders in their fields.
“Investment in research and knowledge development has made the company deeply competitive and has been a critical success factor in its progress towards becoming a fully-scaled international leader in business process outsourcing,” Enterprise Ireland chief executive Frank Ryan said.
“This collaboration with the academic community through 4C is an innovation partnership that will further stimulate innovation in Business Process Outsourcing, generating value for all sides of the partnership and driving Ireland’s reputation as a global centre of excellence for this sector.”
By John Kennedy
Photo: Abtran and the Cork Constraint Computation Centre (4C) at UCC will develop next-generation BPO systems as a result of a research partnership