Interactive Intelligence Interactions in Indy
As the conference season nears its end, Interactive Intelligence played host to 2,000 attendees – customers, partners, analysts, and consultants in Indianapolis at its Interactions 2014 conference.
Of course the big news was the introduction of PureCloud. I was pleased to see that CEO Don Brown was emphatic that PureCloud is not a replacement for the company’s successful CaaS (Communications as a Service) offering, and that it offers an alternative for those customers that prefer a multitenant offering.
As marketing maven and all-around nice guy Joe Staples noted when he kicked off the conference, “A business’s most valuable asset isn't product, brand, cash, or employees. It’s their customers.” I would add that it’s also their partners, and based on some of the tweets I read, it’s clear that Interactive Intelligence believes that as well. Here’s a small sampling:
@IN_Intelligence grew reseller relationships from 250 to 300+ worldwide.
Channel getting more comfortable now selling #cloud - 52% of current orders are Indirect.
@IN_Intelligence sees a higher reliance on partners going forward.
As a regular sponsor of the UCStrategies UC Summit, it’s clear that Interactive Intelligence recognizes the value of channel partners, and tries hard to provide solutions that satisfy not just the needs of customers, but will also make its partners successful.
I expect PureCloud will be warmly embraced by channel partners that need an alternative to Interactive’s premises-based CIC solution and its single-instance/single-tenant cloud offering, by providing not just a multitenant contact center offering, but a telephony and UC offering as well.
In some of my discussions with Interactive Intelligence’s channel partners, it became clear that the company is very strong on the contact center and customer experience front, but has challenges when customers are also looking for a hosted telephony and UC service. While Interactive’s flagship CIC offering can and is used by customers for basic business telephony, it’s not perceived as a core telephony player in the market (perhaps its lack of placement in the Gartner MQ for UC or Enterprise Telephony has something to do with this).
PureCloud goes beyond offering contact center capabilities, and offers basic telephony and UC as well, which will help Interactive’s partners when competing with companies like ShoreTel, Mitel, Avaya, and to some extent Cisco. PureCloud Unified Communications offers voice, IM, presence, click-to-call/click-to-chat, collaboration, conferencing (ad hoc).
In addition, new applications include Social Customer Service and PureCloud Directory. Social Customer Service enables customers to select their preferred agent based on the agents’ skills and related information about the agent, enabling customers to “shop for their customer experience.” PureCloud Directory is a corporate directory that includes information on the user based on org chart, skills, location, and more, and automatically synchronizes with Exchange.
In addition to helping them compete by offering telephony and UC capabilities, PureCloud will also help channel partners add value with apps they can develop and resell, as PureCloud is more of a platform for partners and others to create value added apps that can go on the Interactive Intelligence Marketplace.
The PureCloud Bridge Server integrates different components, enabling third-party vendors such as Salesforce.com and Zendesk to integrate with PureCloud, again, making it easier for channel partners to provide complete solutions. However, the amount of customization will be more limited in PureCloud than CaaS, and customers that want customization, will need to go with CaaS.
I’m not saying that PureCloud will transform Interactive Intelligence into a leading enterprise communication leader, nor is that its intent. But it levels the playing field a bit, and gives channel partners more opportunity than previously. Interactive Intelligence has dabbled in UC in the past, and some customers use CIC for their business telephony system, but the company has never been considered a corporate telephony or UC player. We’ll see if PureCloud changes this or not.
Also on UCStrategies.com on this topic: