An Ottawa software company is shedding its professional services focus in favour of developing software that merges the Internet and corporate call centres. Microburst Internet Technologies is about to unveil an application that allows call centres to assist their clients to navigate corporate web sites. The HumanResolve program uses the Intelligent Contact Management system from Cisco Systems. The Cisco central server permits call centres and customers to link up at a neutral site to navigate the Internet. Microburst is renting capacity on its server to any client that requires it. Cisco, which only sells capacity, has endorsed its partnership with the small Canadian company. The central server can handle up to 500 call centre seats. Microburst will process several smaller clients, thus allowing the cost of the central server to be amortized over several customers. This results in an economy of scale that becomes attractive to potential customers. "Everybody that sees it, wants it," Microburst CEO Don Henderson tells Network Letter. "Prior to our implementation, everybody that saw it, wanted it and then Cisco told them what the price tag was going to be and they thought, ‘well, maybe we can get by without it.’" The process is relatively simple. Someone surfing a web site emails a "call me" message to the webmaster. An employee at the call centre immediately phones the user in an attempt to solve whatever access problems exist. The user and the call centre both log on to a neutral site, where the call centre worker can quickly direct the user to specific pages on the web site. The program takes the surfer on a step-by-step journey through the web site. At the end of the process, an on-screen log appears, making it easier for the web user to return to those particular pages without needing to phone the call centre. Microburst believes the marketplace is wide open for its service. But in practical terms, it is concentrating on two specific segments. "The potential market is anybody that has an inbound telephone service and a web site. But the target market that we’ve identified is government online," Henderson states. "We can drive it down to very small entrepreneurs, but our real target is the medium and small businesses that are trying to sell over the Internet." Microburst has been holding discussions with government departments in Canada, the United States, and Britain, as well as some major Canadian banks about deploying the program. Another potential client base is online retailing. Cisco has had great success selling its central servers to the American clothing giant Lands’ End. Government web sites are an ideal incubator for the HumanResolve program. Most are quite large, featuring huge volumes of information. Visitors to the Industry Canada site, for example, can glean data on spectrum auctions, lobbyist registration, and donations to Liberal Party leadership candidates. Finding that specific information requires deft maneuvering through the site. A call centre worker could cut through much of the clutter for a surfer. Microburst is aiming for a product launch in November. Henderson concedes it is a step in a new direction for the firm. "The history of the company is as a professional services organization, delivering consulting and custom work, mostly to the federal government but also to small businesses around here. HumanResolve represents a change of business model for Microburst." The rollout of the new software will keep the firm’s eight employees busy for the short term. Henderson does not expect to unveil any other products for the foreseeable future, merely upgrades to the HumanResolve system. New product lines, however, could be on the horizon in a few years, he adds.