Sophisticated software offers super service for shoppers

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A new software development company mentored by Sir Terry Matthews, backed by Wesley Clover and supported by the giant Mitel Networks corporation has set up its headquarters in Cwmbran.

Isca Networks Corporation has moved into Technium Springboard where it will develop next generation telecoms based software applications for a wide range of interactive touch-screen devices, including kiosks, iPhones, Blackberry and Android-based phones, aimed at the retail market.

The software applications provide shoppers with improved service and a high level of customer care at the touch of the screen.

Shoppers can use the in-store kiosks or their own mobile smartphones to scan items, access a range of information on products and call for assistance.

The overall aim is to improve customer satisfaction and drive up sales, while retailers can also use the collected data to help identify trends and better understand the requirements of customers.

The solution has already been successfully piloted in France in the Alinéa home furnishing chain and is currently being trialled in the UK where the feedback from customers and managers has been excellent.

Isca Networks set up in 2007 by five graduates under the guidance and mentorship of Sir Terry Matthews was initially based in an incubation unit in the Mitel EMEA headquarters in Portskewett.

The company’s decision to remain in Wales and set up its research base in Cwmbran has been supported by the Welsh Assembly Government through the Single Investment Fund and will create a further 15 high quality IT jobs.

Ieuan Wyn Jones, Minister for the Economy and Transport, described Isca Networks as a start-up with an excellent pedigree.

“The support of Sir Terry Matthews and his investment company Wesley Clover will undoubtedly open up a range of opportunities for Isca Networks and I am pleased that support from the Assembly Government will ensure the company will carry out its high level research and development in Wales.

“Investment by companies in R&D and the commercialisation of innovative new products and processes is vital for the growth of the Welsh economy, particularly as we come out of the recession.

“We are currently adjusting our £240 million economic development budget so that it is focused on encouraging world-class research and development which makes this investment, which will create high quality jobs, very welcome.”

Tom Spencer of Isca Networks said the feedback from the Alinéa stores had been very encouraging and the solution is now being rolled out to the rest of the chain.

Isca Networks is now expanding production and developing a number of kiosk variants as the software can be tailored to meet the exact requirements of individual customers.
They will collaborate with Mitel Communications systems to provide stores with wireless handsets that are linked to the kiosks and the consumer’s own mobile devices.

“The convergence of a number of technologies onto the one platform is unique,” Mr Spencer explained.

“There are already price checkers in stores where customers can scan the barcode to find out the price of a product but our integrated system can provide a much more comprehensive service.

“We can build any requirement into the software which can be updated when required. It makes it an extremely cost effective aid for retailers, providing a long-term solution that can meet their future needs. We can add value by including other applications.

“From a retailer’s perspective the collected data enables them to better understand the needs of their customers allowing them to improve the level of service demanded and perhaps introduce new services.”

He said that kiosk deployment would be particularly useful for businesses during the economic downturn when stores need to maximise sales.

“No store wants to lose potential customers who may walk out in frustration if they cannot access the help or information they need and they have been unable to summon a sales assistant.”

Isca Networks will also be targeting other potential markets as the high tech kiosks and software applications can be deployed as virtual receptions in offices, in GP surgeries and used by the hospitality industry in restaurants and fast food outlets to save time and speed up the service.