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NEC Group transforms ticket office with Alcatel-Lucent’s IP solutions


UK exhibitions and entertainment giant creates purpose-built contact centre and rolls out converged network to support 2,000 users

Paris - Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU) today announced that The NEC Group has deployed its IP telephony and contact centre solutions at The NEC Group’s venues throughout Birmingham – including the NEC Exhibition Centre, the UK’s largest exhibition venue – to increase customer satisfaction, reduce costs and improve sales.

The deployment, which was completed by Alcatel-Lucent’s business partner Amillan over a six-month period, allows The NEC Group to become a more responsive, with a new converged voice and data platform providing 2,000 employees with improved access to colleagues and free internal telephone calls. The NEC Group has also installed a dedicated 80-seat contact centre, designed to streamline and manage call-handling at peak periods and help agents improve ticket sales.

The NEC exhibition venue has 200,000m2 of covered exhibition space through 21 interconnected halls. Each year, the venue welcomes 2.3 million people to over 160 events, making it the busiest venue of its kind in Europe. The NEC is currently undergoing a £40 million Venue Improvement Programme. As part of this strategy, The NEC wanted to relocate all of its offices to the centre, allowing its staff to work in closer contact with customers by basing them at the heart of its ongoing events and exhibitions.

The IP telephony solution is based on the Alcatel-Lucent OmniPCX Enterprise platform and OmniTouch Contact Center Premium software. Thanks to its new contact centre, The Ticket Factory will benefit from a more dynamic approach to call-handling. Call volumes often rise substantially as tickets are released for new events, or in the run up to the event itself, making it vital for The NEC Group to gain insight into how The Ticket Factory is coping with demand. OmniTouch Contact Centre Premium connects knowledge amongst its agents, and provides critical real-time information on operational support status, enabling additional resources to be easily allocated from elsewhere in the business where necessary, in order to maintain a high level of customer service at all times.

As the centre is already a ‘green field’ site, specifically developed from the ground up for The NEC Group, there were no physical inhibitors or legacy systems preventing the organisation from moving over to a converged IP network.

“The evolution of The NEC Group box office into national ticketing agency The Ticket Factory last year meant that we required a more advanced approach to contact centre telephony. Given the obvious cost-savings and efficiencies that could be achieved through convergence, it made sense to transform the entire network and migrate to IP,” said Andrew McManus, IT Director at The NEC Group. “We were looking for close integration between the ticket office and other facilities at The NEC, and had a tight timescale for deployment. Alcatel-Lucent and Amillan were able to meet these requirements exactly, delivering the project on time and on budget.”

The NEC Group, which has an existing Alcatel-Lucent data network, opted for Alcatel-Lucent and Amillan’s offering based on the strength of its product portfolio and The NEC Group’s desire to partner with a single communications provider for all of its telephony solutions. The Group was also impressed by Amillan’s expertise and the accuracy with which it conducted and then delivered upon its initial project scoping.

“The NEC Group’s new network supports the company’s overall improvement strategy, while it also differentiates The Ticket Factory from many rival event sales outlets, through the increased flexibility that it can now provide both clients and customers,” said Martin Ratcliffe, business development manager at Amillan. “The deployment will also give the organisation a platform on which to make further improvements to its communications infrastructure, supporting its growth objectives in both the short and long term.”

“When it comes to live events, The NEC Group is one of the biggest brands in Europe, a position it has achieved by consistently raising the bar when it comes to service delivery,” said David Parker, Vice President for Alcatel-Lucent’s enterprise activities in UK and Ireland. “Dynamic enterprises like The NEC Group understand that continued service innovation requires a communications infrastructure which can support business now and in the future, meeting customers changing requirements as well as maximising employees’ ability to share knowledge and collaborate in real-time.”

About The NEC’s Venue Improvement Programme
The NEC’s £40 million Venue Improvement Programme has already dramatically transformed the Piazza and halls one to five with new flooring, lighting, plasma screens, extra seating, toilets, catering pods and signage, giving the area a completely new identity. With the VIP scheme nearing completion, The NEC is now looking towards the future, with a masterplan under development to create a renewed vibrancy around the site that will turn it into a 365-day operation. The centrepiece of this development is a proposed £90 million Leisure and Entertainment Complex, incorporating a casino, which will be operated with experienced leisure industry partner Genting Stanley.

About The NEC Group
The NEC Group owns and operates four world-class venues: The NEC (National Exhibition Centre) and the LG Arena, located eight miles south-east of Birmingham in Solihull; and The ICC (International Convention Centre) and The NIA (National Indoor Arena) in Birmingham city centre. Every year The NEC Group brings 2.4 million people together to learn, do business and be entertained at over 850 events, including international trade fairs, chart-topping music acts, ground-breaking global conference, exciting product launches and the latest consumer showcases.

About The NEC
Opened in 1976, The NEC hosts many of the UK’s top trade fairs including Spring Fair, Birmingham - the biggest exhibition staged in the UK. The NEC is home to many other high-profile events such as the world famous Crufts Dog Show and a host of BBC shows including Gardeners’ World Live, Clothes Show Live and the Good Food Show. The venue recently hosted the 900 athletes, support staff and VIPs from Team GB, providing a location for them to collect their kit prior to flying out to Beijing for the 2008 Olympic Games. external link

About The LG Arena
Developed through a £28 million funding package - that includes a major sponsorship deal with global electronics giant LG – The NEC Arena is now the LG Arena.The concert and event venue, which welcomes one million visitors every year, was officially renamed the LG Arena from 1 September, with work now underway on creating brand new seating, hospitality, bars, restaurants and other essential customer facilities as well as improved backstage areas.external link

About The ICC
The ICC is one of Europe’s leading conference venues, attracting around 330,000 delegates to more than 540 conferences and related events each year. Renowned for its award-winning services and facilities, The ICC is the UK’s premier conference centre. The ICC has an illustrious history of hosting high-profile events from around the world, including the 1998 G8 Summit, involving leaders from the USA, Canada, the UK, Germany, Italy, France, Russia and Japan, plus 3,500 members of the international media. The ICC is now putting the finishing touches to plans that will see over 10,000 delegates attend the world-class venue for the Conservative Party’s Annual Conference, from 28 September – 2 October. Expected to attract some 10,000 delegates, the high-profile conference will utilise the whole of The ICC, and further strengthen the award-winning centre’s reputation as the UK’s leading venue for major events.external link

About The NIA
With more than 730,000 visitors attending over 90 events each year, The NIA brings world class sport and concerts to the heart of the nation. With a maximum capacity of 13,500 and an enviable position at the very heart of Birmingham, it’s no surprise that The NIA attracts some of the biggest names in international music. Major artists who have played The NIA include Eric Clapton, Prince, Oasis, Paul McCartney and Justin Timberlake. The venue also features a leading draping system – Eclipse - which can create a bespoke ambiance for standing audiences of between 3,000 and 8,000 visitors for more intimate performances. The flexibility of the venue also allows for major international sporting events to be hosted at The NIA. Previous events including world championships in netball, badminton, powerlifting, archery, climbing, tae-kwondo and judo, and European Championships have been held in table tennis, karate and judo. external link

About Amillan
Amillan provides communications solutions to help businesses to achieve their strategic goals. Business process improvement, optimised efficiency and return on technology investment are just some of the deliverables. With a reputation for delivering solutions which make a real difference to business performance, Amillan is a trusted technology partner to many of the UK’s leading businesses. Combining best practice with innovative communications technologies from Alcatel-Lucent, Amillan’s clients benefit from streamlined communications environments where all parties are empowered to become more productive and more efficient.external link

About Alcatel-Lucent
Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU) provides solutions that enable service providers, enterprise and governments worldwide, to deliver voice, data and video communication services to end-users. As a leader in fixed, mobile and converged broadband networking, IP technologies, applications and services, Alcatel-Lucent offers the end-to-end solutions that enable compelling communications services for people at home, at work and on the move. With operations in more than 130 countries, Alcatel-Lucent is a local partner with global reach. The company has the most experienced global services team in the industry, and one of the largest research, technology and innovation organizations in the telecommunications industry. Alcatel-Lucent achieved revenues of Euro 17.8 billion in 2007 and is incorporated in France, with executive offices located in Paris. For more information, visit Alcatel-Lucent on the Internet:


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