Transcript for Brad Herrington on Interaction Mobilizer by Interactive Intelligence
Jim Burton: Welcome to UCStrategies Executive Insights, this is Jim Burton and I’m joined today by Brad Herrington, Senior Marketing Solutions Manager with Interactive Intelligence. For those of you who listen to these regularly, you know that Brad and I have had a conversation before and we’re going to continue a conversation that we started what seems like a year ago, about mobility.
It was a very important time because a year ago was when they had actually announced their new mobility product. It was actually announced around the time of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference and it was a very important one because we all know how important UC is in the market, and we know what role that the contact center plays in the market. And now we’ve added the mobility component that really is significant because a lot of people are working with their mobile phone. Interactive Intelligence, as with everything else they do, seems to lead the market in those types of solutions.
So Brad, we will point to the previous podcast and let people be able to go back and review that; but I think the most important thing is, what have you learned since then and what changes have you made to your product since then?
Brad Herrington: Thanks Jim; it’s good to talk to you again. Well I guess from the last time we talked when we had launched, we came out with really a full development platform. That was by design, that was to give customers the ability to take our product and our contact center solution, and not need any other third party tool or application to build mobile applications for their customer service needs, whether it was going to be on an iPhone, or an iPad, or a Windows 8 device...or whatever they call their – I think they’ve changed three times what they call their mobile platform since we talked. But Windows devices as well as Android devices. When we talked last we had delivered sort of a soup-to-nuts approach, which was, you develop it in our application, you deploy it, you integrate it to the contact center and you manage it in there. And that was really because of our types of customers coming to us for that all-in-one solution. We couldn’t afford to say, “Well to do mobile go out and buy one of these tool kits and then come back to us and we’ll show you how to integrate it.”
When we talked last we had released our complete platform of developments, management and the integration piece. What’s changed since the last time we spoke is that we’ve now released add-on modules for our Mobilizer product and really the crux of what we changed was you don’t have to develop it in our solution always, which was sort of out-of-the-gate I think some people saw that as maybe a drawback because a lot of companies already have applications they’ve written. So now at this point you can use us to develop it from scratch, or we basically open up the libraries to say, “All right, if you’ve already written your application and you’re not going to rewrite it or you’re not going to rewrite it now, you can go ahead and just plug us in so that you still get all the same benefits of contextual information back to the contact center and queuing up items and all the things that we bring from a contact center solution to the mobile devices. We’ve now allowed people to say, “All right, we’ll integrate this first or maybe always, and later on they may look at us and say, “Now we like your solution completely, we’re going to go ahead and redevelop our application.” But last time we spoke it was all or none; you either developed it in our solution and deployed it, or you didn’t have a way to get into the contact center.
So now we’ve got two options; you can sit down and do your white board and build one in our solution, or you can take an existing one and just take the best pieces and get information between your mobile apps and into the contact center. So that’s a big change that we were asking for but obviously it’s steps to do things like that and we think we came out with the right way because being and all-in-one company we certainly couldn’t come out the other way and say, “Well you integrated first and later on we’ll allow you to develop it.” So I think that’s probably the biggest change that we’ve seen since the last time that we spoke.
Jim Burton: What kind of feedback are you getting from the marketplace about the opportunities that you’ve given the people to do their own development work?
Brad Herrington: In the market it’s interesting that when we talk to customers they’ll come up with more than one application, because once they get through the idea that you don’t have just one mobile app per corporation anymore; you have multiple ones. They stay in the contact center and into the back office I think this just dives right into your whole UC message you talked about where contact center is sort of just integrated to everything now and what we’re finding is as we talk to people whether they’re going to integrate it to an existing app that their customers use or they’re going to build a new one, the conversation will start on one app and then as they head to the white board what they’ll do is start writing out other mobile initiatives that they have. It may be something that won’t touch a customer; it may be just for suppliers or partners or just internal. So the conversation is no longer just how do my customers get into the contact center? It’s around how does my corporation handle mobile interaction? Because let’s be honest, the whole “bring your own device” and all the initiatives we see in corporations of all size, mobile is not just that in end consumer and boy, let’s see how well we can service them. That’s still the Holy Grail. I’m not discounting that at all. That’s what people want when we first start talking to them is, get better customer service from these devices into my contact center, but then they realize that there are other areas in the organization that they’re going to have to develop mobile apps for and they’re looking for solutions to do that whether that’s ours or they want to just integrate us with maybe they’ve already selected a tool kit for mobile.
So it’s interesting that the customers we’ve talked to over the past year, it rarely stops at one app as they’re talking to us because people now see that mobile, whether IT likes it or not, mobile is bleeding into their organization and all parts of their enterprise at this point.
Jim Burton: I agree and I would think that would be very, very difficult for someone to try to just narrowly define where a mobile app might reside because everybody is in the process of upgrading, changing, and doing things with their mobile apps and they start coming such a broad spectrum of what you’re trying to do with your lives. So it’s going to be very, very important and very powerful part I think of what people will be doing in the future is a whole selection of mobile apps that are going to work with these back-end contact center solutions. And then with Web RTC coming along it’s going to make even another layer of opportunity for the end user community to develop to help make it easier for customers and partners to work with them.
Brad Herrington: Yeah I agree and I’d say that conversation comes up quite a bit with our channel side right now. I don’t think a lot of customers are I guess educated enough on WebRTC, and sort of a common video platform and you know you’ll hear some things from certain customers about new technologies but what I’m hearing more of when I talk about WebRTC and newer technologies like that it’s coming more from a channel where they see a value in what they do and being able to build these robust mobile applications that some corporations will never build themselves. I mean if you make breakfast cereal or manufacture cars or whatever your line of business is, you may not ever get into the “develop mobile app” side of the equation. But you’re going to use them, you need them, so the conversation I’m having with our channel will bring up anything from WebRTC and HIIPA compliance and PCI and all the other things that get sort of rolled under the rug when you talk about mobile applications as far as security and extendibility. Our channel seems to be picking it up a lot quicker than the end customer and I think that has to do with resources and I think the channels see a market. Someone is going to have to build a great insurance app as opposed to State Farm and All State and Traveler’s. Everybody building their own on and on and on... I don’t know; I’ll defer to you, you’ve been in this industry a while, eventually it gets to that sort of critical mass where companies are just saying, “I’m not a technology company; I do something else and I just can’t spend my time being a technology firm all the time and I need something from the channel in that case.”
Jim Burton: I agree with you and it opens up new opportunities and what I think is fascinating, I was at a conference recently with a bunch of consultants, people who consult to the enterprise customers and part of that conversation was all about how these new opportunities are creating new opportunities for the consultants, because they know developing policies and procedures, whether it’s a government regulated one or just an internal one, that a lot of the things we’re talking about need to have guidelines and policies in place to make them successful. And they’re not necessarily easy things to do; they’re not overly complicated, but it’s something that has to be paid attention to and I remember this group of consultants saying this is going to be a lot of hard work, but it’s created a new opportunity and new revenue opportunity for us, and I think this fits right into that group. So that’s very good.
Brad Herrington: I think you’re right. On the consultant side it’s interesting how we’ve talked to consultants who were traditionally more business process oriented; they were not developers. That’s not what they did. They were more on the “as is,” or the “to be,” and structuring out, which actually from a consultant standpoint flows very well into what companies are trying to do with mobile because it’s not just what button and what kind of fancy screen you have. It’s where do these things go, and what are they moving around the corporation from a data standpoint. So it’s interesting that the consultants that weren’t really technical in some cases, were really more on the process side, very business oriented, they’re actually getting I guess, feedback or requests from companies to help out with this whole “give me a mobile plan... I’ll have somebody else write it but someone has got to lay this out as far as how this is going to fit into our structure going forward because something is not going away any time soon that I’m aware of.”
Jim Burton: Yes. Brad, the question I’m going to ask and I can understand if you hesitate to answer or can’t answer it but can you give us any idea of what you’ll be working on next without violating any NDA’s or anything but give a sense of where you might be headed to tease the audience a little bit about what to look for coming from an Interactive Intelligence on their next mobility phase?
Brad Herrington: Yeah, I think a lot of what you said and I don’t think there’s anything NDA; you were at our Interactions Conference that we had we talked about really connecting mobile a little bit more with social and not necessarily Twitter, Facebook; yes, that’s part of it but more from almost a UC side of connecting your mobile applications back into company directories, the ability to find information, the best knowledge experts. So we have partner companies like OrgSpan is one that we’ve been working with that have sort of taken the concept of skills and statuses and things that we have always equated with contact centers, and sort of pushed that out into the enterprise to say, “I need to be able to find the best person for this topic that I’m working on. But it’s not necessarily customer service, but I still need the same things from this mobile device that a consumer would. I need to find the best person, as fast as possible to help me with these issues.” And so I think what you’ll see from us is a little bit more on the -- really the -- I guess, I don’t want to coin a phrase but you know sort of that corporate social structure; not that Twitter and things like that are going anywhere. But let’s be honest, companies are not using that internally to exchange information; that’s just not what they’re being used for, that’s on the consumer side.
Jim Burton: I think IBM is the good example there of somebody who has done a good job on hitting social and there’s a lot of people that are following that. Certainly Microsoft has made direct letters of intention about where they plan on heading with some of their social things. But so I think you’re right on there, that’s really important.
Brad Herrington: Yep – I think that’s probably what we’re looking for and then you mentioned things like WebRTC, which I think that starts the ball rolling in things like video. It’s tough to say. We’ve been talking about video for decades in this side of the industry, in the contact center. We’ll see point solutions but I still don’t know if we’re going to see true agent-to-customer video like we’ve heard about for a while. I think that’s still a little ways down the road. But further uses of video like point solutions, playing videos, being able to see what a customer sees, things like that will start integrating a little bit nicer into the mobile fabric I think.
Jim Burton: Yeah, well it’s here to stay, there’s not question about it. I just got a new phone recently and I started thinking about how they’ve evolved over the years and it’s really something. I just changed from an Apple iPhone to a Windows 8 phone and it’s interesting what I can do between the two, advantages and disadvantages of the two but the bottom line is they both give me access to do a lot of things that I’d want to be doing with a contact center as opposed to having to go back to my office or pull out my notebook or my tablet. I think this is a really important thing and I think quite frankly it’s one of the first steps of many steps we’re going to see a lot of companies dealing with but none-the-less an important step.
Brad Herrington: Yeah and I think as you mentioned how the phones have changed. You just mentioned briefly on the tablet side, I can’t tell you the last time I was at a conference where I saw laptops up on the table. They just don’t show up anymore. It’s becoming more tablet oriented in meeting spaces. People still have them at their desk and things like that; so when we say “mobile” it’s not just that small footprint of an iPhone or Windows phone but these tablets that are sort of bleeding their way into just the day to day business environment that we see out there.
Jim Burton: Absolutely. And again, that’s why it was so impressive when you were laumnching this a year ago when Microsoft was coming out with the latest version of their mobile product, so it was good.
Well I think we’ve covered this and it’s interesting and I never thought about it when we talked about it a year ago, but I should have and -- is that this will be a conversation in process. I mean we will continue to have these conversations as you add features, functionalities and capabilities to it, and as it becomes more tightly integrated. My guess is that we’ll have a lot more people interested in what we had to say today then they did a year ago. And likewise they’ll probably be more interested in what we may say next year than they did this year because it’s just a very, very important growing part of our market and our industry and it’s always good to see Interactive Intelligence taking a lead role in that.
Brad Herrington: I agree. Thanks Jim, I appreciate it.
Jim Burton: Great, thank you Brad.