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The recent news that Sitel was being acquired for an undisclosed amount by French CRM specialist Groupe Acticall was of little surprise among watchers of the contact center outsourcing space. After all, rumors of Sitel's impending sale had been rampant for the past several months. However, what is intriguing about this deal is the alignment between the two companies in question, which has the potential to further disrupt the contact center services market.
By making this acquisition, Groupe Acticall has become a global contact center player and will clearly benefit from Sitel's global presence, which counts 21 countries and 40 languages. However, when comparing the two firms' respective offshore delivery locations, there is limited capacity overlap in either the offshore or centers of demand, which is important from an efficiency perspective. Equally, certain market segments will be reinforced by this deal. For instance, Groupe Acticall is a strong competitor in the French-speaking space, with sixteen contact centers in France and French-speaking Africa; this presence will be reinforced under this deal with Sitel's French-speaking facilities in EMEA as well as its francophone capabilities in Canada. Also important is that both firms now share capacity in Brazil, one of the world's largest and fastest growing domestic contact center services markets.
There are also vertical aspects that make this deal compelling. This is exemplified by the fact that Groupe Acticall's largest single-industry client is energy and utilities, which Ovum forecasts will be among the fastest adopters of contact center services, thus potentially providing Sitel with access to expertise that will allow it to grow in this space.
Ovum believes that Groupe Acticall's decision to maintain Sitel as a brand makes a great deal of sense, for a number of reasons. For one, Sitel is well known and well regarded among both influencers within the contact center services space and enterprise decision-makers, owing largely to its tenure in the market and its presence in both demand markets and offshore delivery locations. In recent years, Sitel has also made strides in developing customer experience–related solutions, which are likely to be well served going forward by collaborating with Groupe Acticall's CRM capabilities (which, beyond contact center outsourcing, includes training, consulting, and digital services). From a demand market perspective, Sitel is a known name in Western Europe, Asia-Pacific, and North America, and to cloud the market at this point with a rebranding would only put business at risk.
However, the one question that will be on the minds of contact center outsourcing clients, vendors, and industry watchers will be what Groupe Acticall plans to do to facilitate Sitel's revenue growth. Over the past two years, Sitel's top line only grew 1% annually, which was lower than most of its global competitors. That it will now be owned by a firm that has a legacy in CRM and that understands the nature of the contact center sector is a positive first step in improving its revenue performance. Groupe Acticall should provide Sitel with the flexibility and backing required to further expand into value-added solutions, explore new vertical market opportunities, and prospect for contracts in emerging demand centers. These will all be key to sustainable revenue growth over the long term, and having a parent company that is culturally aligned to both the contact center sector and long-term strategic objectives will be the ingredients Sitel needs to consistently grow in line with other global contact center vendors.
Peter Ryan, Principal Analyst, IT Services
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