Making contact with customer communications

Making contact with customer communications

Premier Technologies' Fausto Marasco talks to ARN

What was your first job?
My first job was as a shop assistant working weekends at McEwans [purchased by Bunnings] in the city. It was a great job because the store was full of things that were interesting to work with.

How did you end up in the IT industry?
The Eighties was a time of incredible entrepreneurialism and it seemed only natural to start up a business with my brother, Lorenzo, in 1986. There's only a year-and-a-half between us in age and we both love the IT world. Lorenzo focuses more on the here and now [at Premier] while I look to the future and where we want to be. It works very well.

We started by developing an accounts receivable software package. We were very fortunate when we started, as lots of software companies were starting up and businesses were very receptive to them.

Soon after, I saw some computer telephony boards at a US exhibition. With my interest in electronics and telecommunications, we hit on this just as the call centres phenomenon was starting up.

I have always been madly interested in anything to do with computers and software and still am. I think I'm one of the fortunate few able to work in the field of their hobby.

How did you progress to where you are today?
We celebrated our 20-year anniversary last year - a satisfying achievement. The focus now is on the Premier team, not Lorenzo or myself. They have made the company what it is today. We got to where we are by being focused on what we wanted to achieve and where we wanted to go. I set achievable, time-related goals that have, and continue to, assist me and the organisation make a difference in our industry.

What do you like about your current job?
I'd have to say everything. There is never a dull moment and many challenges. I am committed to innovation - the company dedicates some serious resources to R&D and we are generating some leading edge solutions in the contact centre arena. I still love getting my hands dirty. I also enjoy the sales side of the business and the exciting overseas activity we're currently involved in. We are really kicking goals in the market. This is especially the case in our hosted contact centre offering - what is currently known as call centre on demand (CCoD), but which we are rebranding shortly.

What is the biggest achievement of your career?
It's hard to say there is one big achievement. Each new thing we do is bigger and more significant than the previous one. I always look at the next thing I'm doing as being the biggest achievement of my career.

What do you dislike most about the IT industry?
What's not to like about IT! I think it's the greatest industry to work in. The only frustrating time in the industry was ironically during the dot com boom because the industry attracted a lot of people who were only there for the boom. The industry is full of great people with outstanding skills and much to offer both the local and global market. What we need to do in Australia is recognise those skills and be prepared to back ourselves on the world stage.

What will be the 'next big thing' in the industry?
What we've seen in the last 20 years in the IT industry has taken some industries hundreds of years to go through. The rate of change means those lucky few of us who were there at the start get a perspective on industry growth that no other generation has had before.

The next big thing in my industry will be the proliferation of contact centre technologies to a much wider range of businesses. Just like the Internet brought computer systems to a wider audience, so too do we need to find a way of delivering contact centre technology to a wider audience.

The big challenge we have to solve is making people extremely contactable without encroaching on their personal lives or burning them out. This means incorporating remote agents into the contact centre equation to assist with reducing real estate costs and work force flexibility. Facilitating this move will be the widespread adoption of hosted solutions offering the virtual contact centre we started talking about a decade ago.

What is the main focus for your company this year?
There is no doubt contact centres per se are capable of delivering far higher service levels than are currently being enjoyed by customers but these are traded against price today. The commoditising of technology and enhancements in applications will bring the right blend of quality and price over the next few years.

This is why we have spent over 18 months developing our hosted contact centre solution. It's ideal for multi location sites, short term campaigns, compliance reporting, home or office agents, seasonal campaigns, rapid deployment and disaster recovery.

What do you do when you are not at work?
I have a young family which places time demands on me. But during any free time, you will find me relaxing at the computer. I also enjoy reading business and management books looking at how companies have grown in our markets. I'm also keen on reading about other markets that have been changed by IT to draw some insight and understanding about the challenges we're facing.

Do you like gadgets?
Absolutely, they keep you young. Being able to master new gadgets or software keeps your mind in a constant state of learning. That is my definition of youthfulness.

What did you want to be when you were younger?
I didn't really have any specific career ambitions when I was younger. When I was at school, my focus was university. When I was at university my focus remained at university - I almost didn't make it out of there. It was only when I started working that my goals around the company were crystallised.

What is your biggest ambition?
Growing a successful company that is able to bring our skills onto the world stage.

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