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New Zealand technology company takes on world

Media Statement 16 September 2005

New Zealand technology company takes on world

In a few weeks New Zealand mobile solutions specialist, Datasquirt, will be putting itself on the world platform with a new product that cashes in on the thriving mobile phone texting market.

If all goes well, the small start-up, with a team of six based in Auckland, estimates export success of several million dollars in sales three years down the track.

Datasquirt’s General Manager, Julian Smith, says his team is confident it can meet the target with its Contact™ product which has already been trialled successfully in New Zealand with organisations like the Ministry of Justice and the Elections Enrolment Centre.

The Internet based product is aimed at call centres. It manages and integrates text (SMS – short message service), email and fax messages into centres’ processing systems, without the need for any new or complex hardware and software as all the messaging is run through Datasquirt in New Zealand. It queues and manages all non-voice communication, providing full automation, eliminating manual processing, which means reduced costs of handling information, improved customer service and easier access for customers.

Datasquirt believes its system is leading world development and will be on show at this month’s Call Centre Expo, Europe’s largest event for call and contact centre products and services, being held in the United Kingdom.

The product provides businesses with secure, affordable wireless connectivity with customers. Among those likely to pick up the technology are fast food retailers, mail order and catalogue companies, television shopping channels, real estate firms, interactive gambling and gaming operators and public transport systems.

The system has been developed with investment of $198,000 from the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology through its Technology New Zealand suite of schemes to develop the export version which needed to cope with greater volumes of traffic coming in to many different sites. Foundation Business Manager, Hamish Campbell, says the project has been technically challenging for Datasquirt and gives the company a whole new range of international skills and expertise.

“A key strength when you’re working on a technology innovation is to be able to commercialise and get to market quickly. We’ve grown up quickly and the additional investment has helped us to develop something we think is a world first with significant export potential,” says Datasquirt’s Julian Smith.

The export version of the product involved substantial challenge.

“It’s like building a telephone exchange for text messages that can be used by a lot of different types of business in many different markets so it has to be robust, stable and secure.

“New Zealand has been an excellent test bed because of the high penetration of call centres which have well developed operations and good technology.

“New Zealanders are also high users of call centres and texting, with a high level of acceptance of new technology – New Zealanders send 13 million text messages every day,” he says.

The New Zealand Elections Enrolment Centre, which used the New Zealand version of the Datasquirt technology to reach eligible voters and encourage enrolment, received 51% of all enrolment requests via SMS, despite consumers having a choice of an 0800 phone service, Internet and email and a freepost mail service.

“It’s a whole new avenue for businesses to communicate with customers, who are becoming more demanding,” says Mr Smith of Datasquirt’s success.

Datasquirt has also kept the call centre staff in mind during development, creating something that’s “nice to look at on screen”, is intuitive and user friendly.

“New Zealand contact centre workers are quite literate and often early adopters of new technology but that’s not necessarily the case in other countries so another challenge has been developing a global version easy to use for the average international worker,” said Mr Smith.

The world launch begins in two weeks and Datasquirt has appointed a UK business development manager and already signed a major UK reseller partner.


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