<p>Contract manufacturer Celestica announced 450 redundancies and test equipment group Teradyne postponed an 800-job investment.</p>

ADI, Norwood, Mass, has introduced the newest member of its mixed-signal front-end (MxFE) family, the AD9877, which targets the analogue and mixed-signal requirements of cable modem and set-top-box applications by using a smart partitioning” methodology that keeps those functions separate from the digital baseband part of the total solution.

Each CRM-enabled call center can cost into the low millions of dollars to set up and maintain. That includes quality, high-paid agents who can cross-sell/upsell and resolve problems, not just recite information.

Assuming per-agent wages and benefit costs of $30,000 annually, a firm must pay $3 million yearly to staff a call center with 100 full-time or full-time equivalent (mix of full- and part-time) agents.

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The cost savings of IVR and Web self-service have been known and leveraged for a long time. According to the May 2001 study by Gartner Group (Stamford, CT;, Contact Center Self-Service Costs,” transaction costs average $5 by e-mail, $5.50 by phone and $7 by chat. Web and IVR self-service, by comparison, average just 24 cents and 45 cents, respectively.

Cost savings derived from self-service technologies, however, are no justification for offering less than top quality service. Too many companies, say observers, abuse self-service products by shunting low-priority customers through complicated menus and prompts, with no possibility to contact a live agent.

These practices have given CRM a bad reputation. An October 23, 2000, BusinessWeek cover story: Why Service Stinks,” says that most technologies fail to measure the potential value of customers; they only look at past transactions. Customer history, like history in general, is a poor predictor of future behavior because life situations and habits change.

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Also, one of the fatal mistakes dot-coms and established companies made when setting up Web sites was thinking they could dispense with call centers. When customers could not get service, they went elsewhere.

Too often, companies scrimped on their call centers. Many reportedly failed to train and pay agents properly. They measured performance not by problem resolution but in calls handled per hour. That forces agents to pry unsatisfied customers off the lines.

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But this penny-wise, pound-foolish approach can backfire when annoyed customers call back or demand to speak to agents' supervisors, costing them more money in the long run.

Finally, in their embrace of CRM, too many companies failed to reorganize their departments to take advantage of this powerful philosophy and technology.

These separate reactions are integrated into a single ultrasonic pressure wave propagating away from the illuminated particles. Because the components cannot be easily separated, a neural network learns the overall signature” of each sample from the volume changes sensed by a piezoelectric transducer.

The sample being tested is held in a cuvette that can be pulsed three to 20 times per second. A beam splitter enables the wavelength and relative pulse energies to be measured as they are delivered to the sample through a neutral-density filter, which can trim pulses to precise energy levels. A variable rectangular aperture feeding a cylindrical lens allows a vertical sheet of light to be focused on the sample. The ultrasonic transducer, clamped on the side of the cuvette, feeds the resulting acoustic waveforms into a digitizing oscilloscope for storage. A computer then supplies a trigger to the oscilloscope to transfer the data over a SCSI bus for analysis by neural-learning algorithms.

Noisy prototype

The 1-cm path-length cuvette is maintained at a precise temperature of 4°Centigrade (0.02°) with a layer of mineral oil between it and the piezoelectric transducer to minimize abrupt changes in acoustic impedance. The transducer is maintained at a known tension against the cuvette, so it can be removed and replaced with exactly the same pressure applied. Magnetic stirring” flushes photo products from the illuminated area just before and after each laser pulse.

The prototype, bulky and noisy, occupies several cubic feet and sounds like a vacuum cleaner. Next-generation devices, Small said, will have more integration, but the first models will only be suitable in environments that are already loud. Airports and other public areas will be a good place for it, because our approach is proactive — it's designed to screen the air on a long-term basis,” she said.

The buildup of a succession of intermediate films smooths the way for the active indium gallium nitride region. First aluminum nitride is deposited, followed by aluminum gallium nitride. Gallium nitride is deposited next, followed by alternating indium gallium nitride layers.

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