Interactive Intelligence (ININ) recently invited partners, consultants and analysts to Portugal to hear about the latest developments in its products. Not surprisingly given the extensive range of products it now supports, none of us had much time to enjoy Lisbon but were put through an intensive program of presentations and discussions.
On the surface, it appears that ININ supports three separate product lines: the contact center, enterprise IP telephony and business process automation. Dig a little deeper and you find that these are all built on the same foundation, Customer Interaction Center (CIC). This is an integrated software application suite that runs on a single multichannel platform, which has been architected to support both Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and voice over Internet protocol (VoIP). Don Brown, the company founder, president and CEO, explained some architectural changes that enable CIC to support all of the components required to operate a multichannel contact center and also that all of it has been developed in-house or rewritten to fit the overall architecture and internal standards and integrated as one solution, although components can be purchased one at a time. They include standard and IP-based PBX, ACD (multichannel queuing, and call and email routing), multichannel support for phone, fax, email, Web, SMS and e-services, outbound dialing, IVR, agent desktop, quality monitoring, feedback management, workforce management, knowledge management, call and screen recording, an ever increasing number of analytics products and integration capabilities including monitoring of social media. On top of this, the suite also includes functionality to support enterprise-wide business process automation. Each of the modules has been or shortly will be revised with new features to enhance functionality and improve reliability and scalability.
The products are available as on-premises or cloud-based systems. ININ says that the latter is proving popular for the communication features, with Communications as a Service (CaaS) proving to be the best-selling product at the moment. As I have written several times, cloud deployment not only reduces the cost of supporting several high-end communication facilities but also gives companies more control over their interactions with customers by adding flexibility, ease of configuration and an architecture that supports even the most distributed operating models.
ININ has developed a comprehensive third-party program to support marketing, sales and delivery of its products. One partner of interest to me is RightNow. Its CX product has three basic components – RightNow Contact Center Experience, Web Experience and Social Experience, which support a dynamic desktop that provides customer case management, Web self-service, chat, co-browsing, email management, and social media monitoring. The two companies are working closely together to integrate their full range of products and offer one of the most advanced, fully integrated communications, contact center, customer experience management and social media solutions on the market.
I have been in the contact center industry for more than 20 years now, and my experience and research confirm that three things are holding back companies as they struggle to improve their contact centers to meet today’s new demands: cost, complexity and awareness. My latest research into the state of contact center technology illustrates the first two issues. Most companies have less than 10% of their operating budget to invest in new technologies yet they now have to build multichannel centers to support all manner of communication channels and business requirements. Traditionally this involves spending lots of money and integrating several systems, most likely from several vendors. The ININ suite changes both of these factors – it is fully integrated, includes most of the functionality companies need (and ININ is investing to add more) and the cloud deployment model helps dramatically from a cost perspective. It therefore offers companies the opportunity to innovate in the ways they interact with customers, with less risk and lower cost than previously. Interactive Intelligence continues to advance its technologies and since my analysis last year.
Richard Snow – VP & Research Director