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July 15, 2009

Tough Economy Shines Light on All-in-One Unified Communications: Interactive Intelligence

By Michael Dinan, TMCnet Editor


The sour economy is helping focus decision-makers on the need to spend money more wisely, and that mindset has helped one Indianapolis-based all-in-one provider of unified business communications solutions, officials with the company told TMCnet.
 
The director of solutions marketing at Interactive Intelligence, Tim Passios, told TMC (News - Alert) President Rich Tehrani in an interview (printed in full below) that the days where companies would continue paying for a communications system for no reason other than habit are long gone.
 
“With CEOs, CIOs and IT departments being held accountable for the money they are spending, organizations are searching high and low to make sure that the money that they spend brings the fastest possible return on their investment and makes sense for as many departments as possible,” Passios told Tehrani.
 
Passios – who is presenting a talk during ITEXPO (News - Alert) West in September that’s called “Unified Communications: The Hard ROI” – also told Tehrani that his company continues to invest in research and development, especially in process automation.
 
Their full exchange follows.
 
Rich Tehrani (News - Alert): What has the economic crisis taught you, and how has it changed your customers?
 
Tim Passios: Interestingly, the economic crisis has taught us that our “all-in-one” message has been on-target quite some time. Organizations that would have traditionally reached for the phone and contacted their existing provider are now taking the time to completely evaluate if their existing solutions are actually the best investment for them.
 
Gone are the days where companies could simply continue to pour money into a communications solution simply because it is what they have always done. With CEOs, CI’s and IT departments being held accountable for the money they are spending, organizations are searching high and low to make sure that the money that they spend brings the fastest possible return on their investment and makes sense for as many departments as possible.
 
RT: How is this down economy affecting your decisions to reinvest in your company or market, if at all? Where will you invest?
 
TP: Interactive Intelligence continues to invest in research and development, specifically in the area of process automation. It has become extremely clear that organizations are now looking to automation of their manual processes in order to become more efficient, eliminate human errors and latency, and to reduce headcount where necessary. All of this starts with an evaluation of their existing processes and their flow, determining which can be improved and then automating them.
 
RT: What’s the strongest segment in the communications industry?
 
TP: To us, we see the tremendous growth potential in the area of Communications-Based Process Automation (CBPA). CBPA describes the use of a communications platform to capture, prioritize, route, escalate and track each step of a process flow. In the past, existing business process management suites have left behind the important element of communications in the automation of work. Communication, however, is the backbone for how work gets accomplished. CBPA solutions build process automation on top of the communications solution so that communications are inherently a part of the process flow making the processes even more efficient than ever before.
 
RT: With the rise of smartphones and netbooks, many wireless technologies, such as WiFi (News - Alert), appear to be poised for rapid growth. For example, we’re seeing more and more airlines add in-flight WiFi. In general, how widespread should WiFi be, in your view?
 
TP: TP: As a communications vendor who continues to invest in SIP as the protocol of choice to route voice traffic over IP, the more widespread WiFi becomes, the more important it becomes to those who look to use it as their backbone for communications. Gone are the days of wired communications where you were locked to a specific location. WiFi proliferation means communications anywhere, at any time, for anyone. It also means the increased need for advanced communications applications that companies like Interactive Intelligence provides.
 
RT: What device or devices do you use, and what do you wish you used?
 
TP: Currently I use a BlackBerry Curve. I love it. If I had to change, however, I would move to the iPhone (News - Alert).
 
RT: I understand you are speaking during ITEXPO West, to be held Sept. 1 to 3 in Los Angeles. Describe your talk and tell us what companies or people should attend.
 
TP: UC’s return on investment is typically referenced in terms of “improved productivity” – something that is often difficult for companies to quantify. Some of the specific UC components, such as video conferencing, deliver a hard ROI, but that is more of a positive statement for video conferencing than it is for UC. However, UC, implemented in the context of the automation of business processes, has a very compelling, well-defined, hard ROI. Communications-based Process Automation eliminates process inefficiencies and is the approach that makes UC actually make sense for businesses.
 
CBPA takes the key components of UC functionality – things like enterprise-wide presence, queuing and routing, call and screen recording, VoIP, and so on – and uses that functionality to automate critical business processes and save companies money. This session will define CBPA, quantify the hard ROI, provide a typical use case, contrast CBPA vs. traditional process automation applications, and deliver a checklist for implementing a successful CBPA project. Each attendee will also receive a white paper titled, “A New Approach to Business Process Automation.”
 
Those who should attend include CIOs, IT staff, contact center managers, or anyone else who today is involved in manual processes who is looking for a way to automate them through a communications-based approach.
 
RT: Why should customers choose your company’s solutions? How do they justify the expense to management?
 
TP: As an all-in-one provider of unified business communications solutions, Interactive Intelligence provides organizations with solutions for enterprise IP telephony, the contact center, enterprise messaging and business process automation. Because of our architecture and applications provided by a single vendor with the ability to integrate to existing systems, databases and back-office applications, Interactive Intelligences provides you a hard ROI not found in competitive offerings.
 

Learn more about Interactive Intelligence at ITEXPO West — the biggest and most comprehensive IP communications event of the year. ITEXPO West will take place in Los Angeles, Sept. 1 to 3, 2009, featuring three valuable days of exhibits, conferences, and networking opportunities you can’t afford to miss. Visit Interactive Intelligence at booth #413 in the exhibit hall. Don’t wait. Register now!


Michael Dinan is a contributing editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Michael's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan



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