Interactive Intelligence Re-Inspires
Interactive Intelligence re-inspired analysts, consultants, partners, and customers last week at its Interactions 2015 conference in Indianapolis as it introduced a new cloud offering, and reiterated its commitment to its tried-and-true CIC premises-based solution. With the tagline RE:inspire, Interactive discussed its new cloud services, which are essentially a “redo” for the company. As CEO Don Brown explained, the company had a chance to start from scratch when developing a completely new cloud-based service offering called PureCloud.
Brown explained that Interactive Intelligence couldn’t rest on its laurels as the world quickly changed. The advent of public data center services like AWS, as well as more open source components, make it easier to create new cloud services. Rather than building on what it already had, the developers at Interactive Intelligence were chartered to create something totally new.
Although the company has delivered a single-tenant CaaS solution for several years, the new PureCloud offerings are multitenant, based on Amazon Web Services (AWS), leveraging OpenStack and providing a single platform for collaboration, communication, and customer engagement.
While best known as a contact center or customer engagement vendor, Interactive Intelligence is spreading its wings by providing UC and collaboration services that can be used inside and outside of the contact center. CMO Jeff Platón refers to the company’s new vision as C3 - Collaboration, Communication, and Customer Engagement. At Enterprise Connect, the company introduced its new PureCloud services – including PureCloud Collaborate (a “freemium offering), PureCloud Collaborate Pro, and PureCloud Communicate. Breaking into the enterprise will be a challenge, so the company is offering a freemium version of its PureCloud Collaborate service to help gain some traction. PureCloud Collaborate is based on the capabilities the company attained from its acquisition of OrgSpan, including directory and search capabilities. It offers IM, video conferencing (five participants), desktop sharing (five participants), file sharing, content management, Active Directory sync, mobile apps, and voice mail – at no cost. Agents and other workers can use the search bar to reach out to find people with certain skills, and can narrow the list down based on titles, certifications, and other criteria.
Companies that want to move up to the paid PureCloud Collaborate Pro service pay $9.99/user/month for everything in PureCloud Collaborate plus standard support, unlimited storage, full text search (documents, images), searchable audit trail, and business integrations.
Building on top of PureCloud Collaborate Pro is PureCloud Communicate, which provides a cloud-based IP PBX, speech-enabled auto attendant, multiple voice endpoints (IP phones, remote numbers, softphones), support for multiple sites and remote employees, inbound faxing, audio conferencing, call recording, remote survivability, and a unified inbox, for $19.99/user/month. PureCloud Communicate includes a phone icon on the user’s client interface to make internal and external phone calls, as well as the ability to conference in people by typing in their names.
At the Interactions 2015 event, Interactive Intelligence announced the new PureCloud Engage offering. Building on PureCloud Communicate, PureCloud Engage adds contact center capabilities, including multichannel routing, speech enabled IVR, outbound campaigns, multichannel recording and Quality Monitoring, reporting, CRM integration, and graphical scripting for $99.99/user/month.
As Don Brown and others made clear, Interactive Intelligence is not abandoning its CIC product, which Brown referred to as a “Sherman tank” in terms of reliability and functionality. Brown stated, “We’re not neglecting what got us here, which is CIC. CIC is critical to our future and we won’t take our eye off that ball or underfund it. We want to take our Sherman tank and make it faster, tougher, meaner, and more reliable.” Building on this concept, Platón told the audience that “one size doesn't fit all; we will have a variety of business models to deliver on customers’ business outcomes.”
As someone who’s been following the collaboration, UC, and contact center market for years, and has advocated for the integration of these three capabilities, I was obviously very happy to hear about Interactive Intelligence’s move in this direction. Contact center agents will have more tools to enable them to reach out to subject matter experts within the organization, while having the tools to enable them to provide better customer service. Workers throughout the organization can better communicate and collaborate, regardless of location or device.
Contact center, or customer engagement, remains the bread and butter of the company, but expanding to UC and collaboration will enable them to offer new capabilities to existing customers, while reaching out to new customers. I don’t see PureCloud Communicate keeping the Microsoft Skype for Business team up at night, but it does provide customers with an alternative to Microsoft.
Most customers with CIC will not get rid of their premises-based solution in favor of PureCloud Engage, but I expect to see companies that are looking to move to the cloud take advantage of Interactive Intelligence’s all-in-one platform and their 3C solution.
Not many companies have the chance to have a “redo” and build a new service from scratch, and Interactive Intelligence has a great opportunity to grow and succeed. Whether the company can make more headway into the enterprise market remains to be seen, but it’s nice to see another qualified player in the field.
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