Interactive Intelligence INTERACTIONS 2016 – ReImagine
The theme “ReImagine” was prominent at Interactive Intelligence’s INTERACTIONS 2016 event in Indianapolis last week, as the company discussed its PureCloud service offerings, as well as providing a peek into the near future with a virtual reality demo.
While the conference didn’t have major announcements like last year’s event when PureCloud was first introduced, there was still lots of new information to cover.
The hot topic of course was PureCloud, and based on its sales figures, the cloud service is exceeding expectations. However, CEO Don Brown and others were quick to point out that while the company’s focus has been on PureCloud, CIC sales still going strong, and the company continues to sell and win big deals with CIC. As Brown pointed out, "We're continuing to sell CIC, but the juice for us is PureCloud." The bulk of R&D will be going toward PureCloud, and development of sexy new features and capabilities will be based on PureCloud, not CIC.
As we heard, a big part of the PureCloud story is Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the use of microservices. Don Brown explained, “We are completely married to AWS. It is not a hosted service, we are developing on their platform." PureCloud uses AWS as an "operating system" and PureCloud is totally dependent on it.
As conference host and MC Dan Rood noted, “Everyone is moving to the cloud – but it doesn't mean you’re in a true cloud architecture – not all cloud is created equal.” He explained that using AWS provides a great deal of flexibility, and that “Companies can spin up 10 agents today, and 10,000 tomorrow, without needing the server space to deal with this.” He added, “If there’s an emergency, everyone in the company can become an agent. Anyone can flick the button that says ‘On Queue’ and become an agent.”
Using a microservices architecture is also key. According to OpenSource.com, “The idea behind microservices is that some types of applications become easier to build and maintain when they are broken down into smaller, composable pieces which work together. Each component is developed separately, and the application is then simply the sum of its constituent components. This is in contrast to a traditional, 'monolithic' application which is all developed all in one piece.” Using a microservices architecture lets Interactive Intelligence develop applications more quickly, bringing new functionality to customers faster than what’s possible with CIC. As Rood explained, “We can bring ‘microbites’ into the system and can build a service like cobrowsing very quickly and bring it in with the other microservices when it’s ready.”
For example, the company recently launched Twitter customer care for PureCloud, and soon will be launching FaceBook and FaceBook Messenger integration. With Twitter monitoring and routing, companies can monitor Twitter posts in real-time, and route actionable items to a customer service representative for faster handling and response.
While I would have liked to have heard more about hybrid solutions and how PureCloud and CIC will be integrated going forward, it seems that the approach will be to enable some PureCloud apps such as Twitter customer care to work with a premises-based CIC. Hopefully we’ll be hearing more about Interactive Intelligence’s hybrid approach in the near future.
Looking ahead, the next step in customer care seems to be virtual reality. Using their smart phone and a VR headset, companies such as travel agencies can provide customers with views of the hotel grounds or the surrounding area, for example. PureCloud can route the virtual reality session to an agent just like any other channel. Brown noted that Interactive Intelligence is currently working on a prototype with a division of Carnival Cruise Lines using Google Cardboard to enable customers to see their state room and the features of the ship while engaging in a dialog with an agent. Brown expects to see VR applications in healthcare and other industries in the near future.
During the conference I had the chance to meet with Dan Rood, Senior Director, Content and Product Marketing, who came from Interactive Intelligence's OrgSpan acquisition several years ago. In this video interview, Dan discusses “liquid expectations,” and how customers expect the type of customer support they get in one industry to be the same in other industries. As he mentioned during the opening session, "Your customers are comparing your business to Uber. If you don’t provide the same kind of experience, you’ll fall behind.” He also discusses the role that microservices play in helping Interactive Intelligence provide a flexible and scalable cloud platform, as well as the company’s view of using virtual reality for customer care.