March 30, 2009
Speaking at IAOP meeting in Gutemala next Month
Got this in the mail last week....
This is quite an honor. I will be sitting on a panel with some real industry heavyweights. The meeting is April 23rd in Guatemala city. Hope to see some of you there.
More on my Business Blog
March 18, 2009
New Utopia Group website
The new website for the Utopia Group is up. After a couple of years of inactivity on our other site, I decided to create a simple and informative site developed by me on my Mac. It is a simple, text based site that seeks to inform those interested in our services, rather than wow them with Flash presentations or graphics. Please feel free to provide feedback.
Crossposted to my business blog
January 20, 2009
to make this happen...
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
And I am very, very proud to have been a part of this, along with the call center in Nicaragua which Concentrix also invested in. I am so honored to have had the opportunity to participate in the growth of the industry here in Central America, and to have helped a company like Concentrix find partners here. I have kept this confidential for almost a year as he relationship developed and the investments were made. I am... Very proud and very excited.
Crossposted to my business blog...
I have now had the opportunity to build call centers in Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras, and to consult for some of the top companies in the region. I want to thank the folks at Concentrix for placing their trust in me, and for working with me for the last year to grow the operations which now bear the concentrix name.
March 03, 2008
Linkedin Power User Guide
March 02, 2008
An awesome blog dedicated to outsourcing...
And a great article that shows me that I have been seriously undervaluing my services...
I am seeing increased demand for outsourcing advisors early this year to facilitate outsourcing transactions. The applications outsourcing space, in particular, is showing no signs of slowing down as companies seek to renegotiate existing contracts and a host of enterprises are evaluating their options for the first time. Having spoken to several outsourcing providers over the last couple of weeks, I am increasingly seeing small advisors with low cost-bases in on the game. These firms can afford to work with clients and run deals for $250-600K for a typical 4/6 month outsourcing advisory engagement. The 4-6 month time-frame is what it typically takes to conduct a baseline analysis, develop and administer an RFP, downselect vendors and negotiate a contract. When firms want to negotiate a $10m ADM deal, for example, they do not want to spend more than 5% of the TCV on advisory fees to do the deal in the first place. This causes issues for the higher-cost advisors, who simply cannot afford to entertain low fees at this level to conduct the same work.
Read the whole thing...
More on my business blog...
March 01, 2008
CRM Buyers Magazine Article
Call center reps get a bad rap. They're expected to be constantly nice in the face of increasingly not-nice customer interactions, field the blunt of management's never-ending drive for increased performance, and solve every problem that randomly hits their line. It's no wonder the industry faces a lightning-fast turnover rate.
Read the whole thing, or click here to download a PDF of the article.
Extended version on my Business Blog
February 19, 2008
Interesting analysis on Latin American Outsourcing
I love this kind of stuff. Not only does it validate my business model, but just goes to demonstrate what an incredible opportunity we have here in Central America!
February 14, 2008
I have been saying for a while that Nicaragua has incredible potential in the call center arena.. The fact that Call Center giant Sitel, is setting up shop, more or less validates that assessment.
Marketwire - Sitel, a leading global business process outsourcing (BPO) provider, today announced it will open a customer care facility in Managua, Nicaragua in April 2008. Sitel's new multi-channel contact center will strengthen the Company's ability to provide high-quality, multilingual customer care and technical support solutions to leading companies worldwide. The 14,747-square-foot facility located at Torre Invercasa No. II, Frente al Colegio la Salle, is expected to staff more than 250 associates with the capacity for an additional 180 seats. Sitel's recent expansion to Nicaragua demonstrates growing demand among Sitel clients for Latin America-based contact center support.
I have been advising clients and prospective clients to give Nicaragua a look. The fact is that Nicaragua offers a huge pool of talented bi-lingual workers, many of them with years of experience living in the U.S., and several mature and growing call center operations. I have had the pleasure of working with, advising or evaluating several of these operations, and see incredible potential in the market.
More on my business blog
October 10, 2007
For those of you who wonder where I am. I have been in Nicaragua for the last two weeks. Mr. Morten Nygart is the CEO of Press2, one of the call centers that I am consulting with. Mr. Nygart was kind enough to sit down and say a few words about Utopia.
September 02, 2007
In Nicaragua for the next two weeks...
Will try to post some stuff, including some pictures. My latest project is coming to a head there and the next two weeks will be critical to its success.
August 27, 2007
While visiting Nicaragua, I had a chance to spend some time with Connect International, a new call center founded in Managua in February of this year. The call center is primarily focused on outgoing collections activities at the moment, but let me tell you, these guys are comers. They will be one of the dominant call centers in region within the next couple of years, of that I am sure. What I see is a dynamite team of young people, led by a young, intelligent, super motivated CEO, Juan Carlos Montealegre.
Juan is one of the latest generation of Nicaraguans whose families left the country during the war and who migrated to the U.S., now the children of these families, including JC and many of the people who work for him, are returning to Nicaragua and creating a whole new class of professionals.
Nicaragua is going to compete with Honduras as the next "Green Field," opportunity for Contact Center development.
August 14, 2007
Back in Managua
I am back in Nicaragua this week working with a client who wants to partner with a local call center here. I am impressed with the young Contact Center industry. For the second week in a row, I visited Connect,
The Connect Call Center
And Press2, two of the new, young Call Centers here in Nicaragua.
I have been very impressed with the quality of what I have seen so far, and look forward to doing some business here, and maybe reccomending the country to some of my clients. Gotta run I have a business dinner to attend to tonight here in Managua.
July 22, 2007
The Ever Growing Utopia
Looks like I will be off on another whirlwind trip in a couple of weeks. The Call Center Project in Honduras has been on hold for about a month now, as the client works on some other pressing priorities. This has not meant a vacation for me though. In the last month I have worked with a North American Company to start the process of evaluating three countries, with the purpose of locating a telesales operation.
I have also been working with one of Costa Rica's biggest Real Estate ventures on evaluating and developing a VOIP strategy for their telesales organization and for the companies internal use.
Looks like I will be back on the road the second week in August, and more than likely visiting some of my favorite Central American Cities again. With any luck, I may even have time to have coffee with some of my contacts and friends there.
I am hoping that we will stay at the Raddisson in Guatemala again, what a spectacular hotel, and what fantastic staff.
This coming week will be pretty hectic as I plan for this trip and evaluate some proposals for my North American Client. Things are looking pretty interesting in this project, and I am looking forward to being a part of it right up until it is operational.
In the interim, I also have a client coming in from Russia in the next couple of weeks, I need to set some meetings for him to establish a company here in Costa Rica. I dont expect it to take much time, but it must be done right, he is depending on my recommendations to ensure that he has the right contacts in country to kick his business off right.
Crossposted to Business Blog
July 04, 2007
Yep, it was a tough week!
Just in case you doubt how tough last week was...
That was me on the way to one of my meetings. Real slave driver this client. Hehehehe... Or real lazy guy... this consultant guy. Hehe
Of course it was not all power naps...
It was an interesting experience, visiting three countries in four days. It would have also been interesting to include El Salvador in the mix, as they have been coming on strong in call centers in the last couple of years. Unfortunately on this trip, time did not permit much variance from the agenda. Nevertheless, it was awesome getting to see how the industry has grown in a short time. When I founded a call center in Guatemala last year, there were a few already in place, but it was not the thriving call center Mecca it is today. Nicaragua has done some extraordinary things to build its small but growing industry.
I was reminiscing last night with some industry associates about all the call centers I have had the opportunity to visit recently... One thing stands out... Most of them have exactly the same structure I first put into place at Packard Bell Electronics almost 20 years ago, and then at the Acer Call Center (First in Central America), back in 1994. Agent to Lead to Supervisor ratios, Duty Monitors, QA, the works. This makes me very proud, as it makes me feel like a proud poppa in many ways.
Its also satisfying to see how many of my people have went on to major management roles at other companies. Recently I have had the opportunity to get back in touch with a bunch of them, and many memories come flooding back. Its nice, "if somewhat tiring," to get out there and see first hand how the industry is growing. I am grateful for the opportunities I have had to promote that growth...
Cross Posted to my Business Blog
July 03, 2007
Contact Center Industry in Central America
I am just getting back from a whirlwind tour of Guatemala City, Managua Nicaragua and San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Three cities in 4 hectic days. WHile I have founded call centers in Costa Rica and Guatemala.... and am in the process of developing one in Honduras, I had never traveled to Nicaragua. I was pleasantly surprised at the growth of the industry in Nicaragua.
The week started on Monday, the 25th, when I left Costa Rica at 6:30 am for a flight to Guatemala City. The flights were uneventful, and I landed in Guatemala about 9:40, after a short layover in El Salvador. Actual flying time was about an hour and a half, not even enough time to get uncomfortable. I started my day in Guatemala with breakfast with an old friend (My taxi driver from the period I spent there last year). On arriving at the beautiful Radisson Hotel, I found out I had recieved a room upgrade.
The view from my Ninth Floor suite was spectacular.
Guatemala City is one of the most beautiful cities in Latin America, and much has happened in the year since I last visited.
The Call Center industry has littery exploded and it is easy to see why. Invest in Guatemala, the organization responsible for bringing investment to Guatemala, has done a spectacular job recruiting outsourcing orgazinations to Guatemala.
Having founded a call center in Guatemala last year, I was not surprised at the progress that has been made there . What I found most surprising was Nicaragua. While in Nicaragaua we visited a couple of BPO and Contact Center Operations, these two young ladies worked for one of them, a company providing support to an Investment Bank in California.
The level of talent was amazing. Both of these two ladies spoke English as well as I, and the one on the left is an MBA. The operations ranged from sophisticated operations in ultra modern facilities, to simple voice over ip based cubicle farms in small houses. It was not the sophistication or lack thereof that made the impact, it was the variety and intensity in which the Nicaraguans are attacking the opportunity.
With the project I am managing (currently on hiatus) in Honduras, I am certain that the industry will take off there as well.
I received another email today from someone interested in building a call center somewhere in Central America. It will be an interesting summer. And likely a lot of flying... Speaking of which... If I had an option, I would never fly Taca again...
One of four LATE Taca Flights, last week. This one from Managua to San Salvador...
More on that later.
Crossposted to my Business Blog
May 24, 2007
Central America Today
My client in Honduras, is publishing an exciting new magazine called Central America Today. Check out the website for some really good content on business in Central America. I was asked to contribute to their second edition, and wrote a piece about Contact Centers.
Click on the thumbnails for a readable version of my article. The article is not available on their website. If you are interested in dynamic content about Central America, and expecially information on the business environment, check out their website or order a subscription. I hope to have the opportunity to be a regular contributor to the magazine.
May 22, 2007
Why I like my trips so much. Hehe... I get chauffeured around by intelligent and pretty women!
Haha! No, that is Verushka, Marketing Manager for my Contact Center Client in Honduras, and I rode around with her most of the week last week. He front door on the passenger side would not open, so I ended up riding in the backseat. I am sure we got some interesting looks....
Verushka is quite the Marketing whiz and I learned a lot from her during my stay. She also happens to date the owner of one of Tre Fratelli, San Pedro Sula's finest Italian restaurant. The name of the restaurant means "Three Brothers," in Italian. Anyway, good food, decent prices, nice guy.
As you can see by the picture, we had a blast there on Friday night.
The place made my list of must visits while in Honduras...
Introducing Contact Centers Central America
My new site for all things Contact Center and Call Center Related in Central America. The site will be the home and hub for our Contact Center Consulting Practice, which is growing regionaly with clients now in Costa Rica, Guatemala and most recently Honduras.
Our goal is to continue to expand our reach and vision for the Contact Center Industry, outside of Costa Rica, and to be partners in the growth of the contact center and call center industry, throughout the region.
The reputation of the Utopia Group has led to opportunities in many countries in the Central American region, and a growing respect for the quality of our work and extensiveness of our network of contacts.
From founding one of the first Multinational Call Centers in Central America, to developing a reputation as "the call center gurus," in the the region, we take pride in being, "out front," in the Contact Center Market. CCCA is just another example of us taking a proactive approach to developing and growing our market.
In 2007, we will plan and open the first "major," contact center in Honduras, and will help to establish the Honduran Contact Center market. We take pride in our previous trailblazing roles in Costa Rica and Guatemala, and in the many strong business relationships we have forged in those countries. It will be a few days before the site is up and running, in the meantime, join me in welcoming CCCA to the Utopia family of websites.
May 21, 2007
The English Gap in Costa Rica
I have written several times about how the swarm of new Contact Centers and other businesses requiring English Speaking talent, has caused problems for the local Contact Center industry. This article from La Nacion, is about an event held last week to identify English Speaking candidates for the thousands of positions now available.
According to CINDE's web site, this appears to be the third such fair. I don't remember it in past years, but possibly because the need has never been as obvious, or critical...
Back from Honduras
Just returned from my latest trip to Honduras. We are in the process of final vendor selection for the Contact Center's infrastructure. Should be making a decision by the end of this week between Cisco and Avaya, and Dell and HP for our Servers and PC's.
We also had some very productive meetings with two potential clients/partners. Things are looking good for a launch in July with 25+ Seats.
April 29, 2007
Why Cafta is Super Important to Costa Rica's Future
In the last two weeks, two important events have occurred that are linked to the future of investment, and expecially the Call Center Industry in Costa Rica.
The Referendum was a sign of failure on the part of Oscar Arias, the Costa Rican President to get the TLC through the legislature. Massive street demonstrations, led by the ICE Union and other Unionist were giving the legislators cold feet, and TLC opponents renewed hopes for defeating the treaty.
The Massive Power failure and fiasco that has followed has now put ICE on the defensive, and caused many who supported them and their anti Free Market Stance, to rethink their feelings. You dont realize how badly a monopoly sucks until it fails spectacularly. The arrogance that followed the failure:
Were more reason to erode ICE support among the population.
If the TLC fails, Costa Rica will be left with an aging monopoly that once led the region in every statistic that counts, but which is now finding itself behind in technology, (ICE just approved GPRS Internet, and has NO prepaid Cellular Service), availability of services, (New GSM Phone Lines will not be available until August of this year), innovation, and redundancy.... The Country will also be the only one in the REGION without competition in the Telephony Marketplace, or for that matter, any part of the public sector.
Costa Rica has failed miserably to take advantage of the lead they had when I established the first call center in Central America in 1994. While other countries have invested in Infrastructure, opened up their telecommunications markets and focused on developing strong English Language Bases of Employees. Costa Rica has arrogantly held on to a reputation that they no longer deserve. Visit any other capital in the region, and you will feel the progressive Energy. In Guatemala, millions are being invested into creating Call Center friendly parks and infrastructure. In Honduras, companies like Karims are working closely with the Honduran Government to define a new industry.
CAFTA is an important key to the future of Costa Rica. Without it, Costa Rica may see itself losing more and more of its key technology businesses, to other, more aggressive and progressive neighbors.
In the Utopia Group, we are looking at the REGION as our opportunity, Costa Rica just does not seem as promising as it once was.
Crossposted to my Business Blog
January 08, 2007
Call Center Outsourcing in Honduras
The client is a huge corporation with offices in Honduras and other countries in Latin America.
The Costa Rican Call Center Market is currently going through stress due to market saturation and a lack of qualified English Speaking personnel. Honduras is an excellent new Market with fantastic potential. I am looking forward to help pioneer that market as well. Honduras offers some excellent potential advantages over Costa Rica, and even Guatemala, where I opened a call center last year. There are currently no major call center operations in Honduras, and Honduras should offer some compelling cost advantages over more developed markets.
For information on the new operation, please contact me via email.
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