Lucent on Global Expansion Course to Help Direct Marketing

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DENVER, Colorado -- Lucent Technologies, a leading US communications company, is buying TKM Communications, a call center and consulting business in Toronto, Canada.


The purchase, which is being made by Lucent's NetCare division, is part the company's worldwide expansion strategy and commitment to provide communication solutions for direct marketing companies.


"We have a web of capability and knowledge that can be integrated in any customer environment, whether it's Singapore, London or New York," said Rob Melich, director of NetCare's professional services.


"Independent of where you are in the world, there is an increasing need, desire, demand for our customers to provide better customer service and relationship management with their customers. Primarily, that has been done with 800 numbers and voice telecommunications and traditional mail.


"And as we all know in the last five years there has been the emergence of technology which allows customers to reach their suppliers and vendors in a way that expedites those relationships, using a variety of media and in the past year, by using Web-based technology," he added.


The company is also looking at how the Web environment relates to direct marketing and especially at the question of e-mail versus traditional mail and direct response campaigns.


"There isn't yet a dominant message in the market place about direct marketing around the Web," said Melich.


"We will be there to support those customers as the market emerges to have the newest and best tools, technology and people tools to successfully implement their programs.


"We have reached a point of opportunity where our customers are saying they want complete solutions around their customer relationships, not only from the standpoint of the voice technologies but also from integration," he added.


Lucent has been active in Canada but not in the call center arena. TKM Communications, a company with a growth rate of between 50 and 60 percent a year, was chosen partly for its 10 year's experience in call center integration.


"We have a very strong presence in the Canadian market place," said Fred Gallagher, president of TKM Communications.


"We are highly respected, we have a proven track record of high levels of customer satisfaction and our skills are total solutions. We've got a very strong business applications knowledge," he added.


Lucent is also expanding its operations in Singapore. The company's Asia-Pacific Distribution Center has invested $10 million in increasing its warehouse capacity. This will quadruple capacity and improve inventory management and customer service.


"We will be able to better support our business partners in the Asia-Pacific region, which now number more than 500," said Attley Ng, managing director of Lucent's Global Private Systems group.


"Although governments and other customers in the region are being careful about spending, especially with the weakening of their currencies, many are still investing in critical infrastructure development to ensure that they are on the growth track once the economic concerns subside."


Doug Austin, manager for strategy and business development for NetCare professional services, said Lucent does not plan to reduce investment in Asia, as markets outside the US are so important.


"While we have a significant presence domestically in the US and Canada, our relative share position is certainly not so strong outside the US and we regard all those markets, whether they be in Europe, the Asia Pacific or Latin America, as offering tremendous long term growth," said Austin.


"We certainly want to situate ourselves so we can participate in full extent in those markets. While Asia is suffering from a pretty severe economic downturn, we continue to have a real significant commitment to that region.


"While we are expanding internally, we continue to look out for the appropriate acquisitions to expand that growth even further," he added.
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