Call Center Technology

Intelliverse Makes a Comeback with New ION Platform

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  January 01, 2012

This article originally appeared in the Jan. 2012 issue of Customer Interaction Solutions

Intelliverse (News - Alert) has been relatively quiet in terms of company messaging for the last three years. But the company recently opened the kimono on its new initiative called ION, which supports all Intelliverse services, including interactive voice response, automated call distribution, and VoIP.

ION, which stands for Intelliverse Open Network, is a service delivery platform based on the service-oriented architecture, which leverages reusable components to enable fast service creation. That enables Intelliverse, a cloud-based hosted communications provider, to customize applications for its enterprise customers without the complexity and high costs of traditional solutions, explains Frank Paterno (News - Alert), Intelliverse vice president of marketing. And Intelliverse can monitor and troubleshoot platform performance before problems occur.

The company, which may be best known as a private-label wholesale VoIP provider, has long had a legacy business of national enterprise accounts to which it provided hosted IVR and voicemail services, says Paterno. Although this business funded Intelliverse’s VoIP business, he adds, the company never talked much about it. But now Intelliverse has consolidated under the ION platform the various IVR and other solutions it amassed over the years. ION has been under development for the past three years, and Intelliverse is pushing the message that the company is now an enterprise solutions provider with state-of-the-art capabilities.

The Intelliverse IVR automates interactions between businesses and customers by giving customers phone access to information or resources they need, while using technology to do so in the most cost effective manner for the business, according to the company. Its ACD intelligently routes inbound calls to call center agents based on predefined routing criteria such as time of day, agent availability, language selection and agent skills, regardless of their locations. And the company says its VoIP solution is a business-class phone service that provides the advantages of an expensive, global phone system – without the need to purchase or maintain phone system equipment.

As noted atop this story, Intelliverse has been relatively quiet in recent years. When we last spoke to the company about three years ago, it was pushing private-label wholesale VoIP. Intelliverse had a successful business on this front, according to Paterno, adding that Covad, New Edge and Qwest (News - Alert) Wholesale were among its customers. But market adoption in the small and medium business space for voice over IP was a little slower than expected, and at the time Intelliverse had a restless private equity parent company that was reading a lot about failed companies in VoIP, he said, so The Gores Group was not comfortable focusing on the VoIP market. As a result, Intelliverse, which as of May 2011 is owned by Amvensys Capital Group, decided to put its VoIP efforts in this realm on hold, although Paterno adds that doesn’t mean the company is abandoning them.

To facilitate the move in this new direction, Intelliverse did a series of acquisitions in the late 1990s. The purchased resources, along with what Intelliverse already had on hand, resulted in a mish-mash of different IVR and voicemail solutions. Paterno says it was kind of a mess internally, was expensive, and was hard to cross-sell and up-sell between the company’s solutions. So Intelliverse decided to build a brand new services platform to house all the services it offers in this realm.

At first the company wasn’t sure if it wanted to buy or build the platform, so it settled on a hybrid approach. It didn’t need to build a SIP stack or create media server technology – those items existed. So it bought Acme Packet SBCs, a Dialogic Media Server, a BEA (News - Alert) (now Oracle) app server, and Oracle databases.

“What we did is we just started writing applications,” he says.

Those applications include auto attendant, IVR, survey, voicemail and more. Then it added IP telephony back onto the ION platform. By early 2011 Intelliverse had moved all its customers on to the new ION platform supporting these services. Indeed, Paterno says being able to deliver IP telephony and a broad range of related functionality on a single platform is its special sauce.

“There are ways to use IP telephony as an enabler, as part of an application,” he says. “It’s like salt – it’s not necessarily the main ingredient, but it can make the whole dish better.”

Paterno adds that Intelliverse is taking more of an enterprise approach to IP telephony this time around. If the company brings on a call center with its hosted ACD service, for example, now it has to get traffic from the cloud to the call center; that used to require a premises-based solution. Intelliverse is not on premises, he explains, but it is on-net, at least to its data center.

The company’s customer target is medium to large enterprise in the U.S., which Intelliverse is reaching via direct sales, as well as businesses abroad, which Intelliverse is seeking service provider partners to reach. In the U.S., Intelliverse is taking a vertical approach, first reaching out to utilities and the energy reseller market and then to the banking space. The global strategy is focused on booming areas such as Brazil, China, India and Saudi Arabia, where businesses could make good use of Intelliverse’s scalable services, says Paterno.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi