In a move that emphasizes interest in home-based agent contact centers and industry consolidation, Sykes Enterprises, Inc. is buying Alpine Access in a deal worth $150 million.
The deal, announced earlier this morning, marries Sykes, which provides business process outsourcing solutions to Fortune 1000 companies worldwide, with Alpine Access, which relies exclusively on home-based agents to provide contact center solutions.
"Sykes has made a bold move buying home-based outsourcer Alpine Access,” said Peter Ryan, lead analyst of IT Services at research and consulting firm Ovum. “Apart from being one of the longest established home agent outsourcers, Alpine Access has shown strength in the domain of platform delivery and innovations around data security.”The home-based agent market is exploding because it allows for very affordable onshore contact center solutions, according to Ryan. The transaction is an indicator of what should be the onset of “consolidation in the home agent outsourcing sector that has been anticipated for some time,” he added.
More than 300,000 home-based agents will be working in the U.S. by 2013. And four in five contact centers with home agent programs currently in place plan to continue steadily adding virtual staff over the next two years.
“Analysts report that growth of home working exceeded growth of offshoring for the first time in 2011, propelled by a highly skilled, educated U.S.- based workforce, unprecedented employee satisfaction levels, and reduced facilities and operating costs,” Michele Rowan, CEO at AtHomeCustomerContacts.com, recently told ContactCenterSolutions and TMC’s CUSTOMER magazine.
Cynthia Phillips, vice president of marketing at Alpine Access, recently told TMC that the education and quality of the Alpine Access call center reps is much higher than reps at competitors’ brick-and-mortar call centers because it can recruit from a much broader base of job candidates. She added that Alpine Access also has older reps (which typically means more work experience) than is the norm in the industry, and low employee turnover. Some of company’s employees have been on the job for eight or 10 years, and many of these folks have industry-specific expertise that Alpine Access matches up with the special requirements of its clients.
Alpine Access President and CEO Christopher Carrington, and key members of management as well as most Alpine Access employees across each functional group, are expected to join Sykes upon the close of the deal, which is expected to happen toward the end of the third quarter.
"This is a momentous day for Sykes, our clients and our investors, as we take our business model to the next level,” said Chuck Sykes, president and CEO at Sykes. “Increasingly in the call center BPO industry, the ability to flex, adapt and scale is at a premium and can be a competitive advantage both from clients' and vendors' perspectives. This has never been more so than in today's volatile macro-economic environment. Alpine Access, with its solid brand recognition and domain expertise developed around its operating model, is a scarce asset that builds markedly on our existing at-home agent initiative.”
“Given the breadth and depth of clients, verticals and offerings, Alpine Access, through years of hard work, has taken the at-home agent model from a niche concept to a breakthrough offering that has seen a broader and steeper adoption curve among a growing number of Fortune 1000 clients,” he continued. “The transaction is consistent with our disciplined strategy of staying focused within the core customer contact management industry and managing for the long-term. In addition, this transaction positions us extremely well in what we view as a fast growing segment within the industry."
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