With Interactive Intelligence Inc. (Part 2)
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This leads us into the future of SIP-based
presence/availability/modality management, which can support Instant
Messaging (chat) contact options as well as phone calls and asynchronous
messaging. In particular, we expect this next phase to be particularly
important for multi-modal or cross-modal communication mobility using
smart phones or PDA phones. As noted later in this column, Interactive
Intelligence is developing a very strong position in the exploitation of
So, overall, Communité is a very enticing product. Communité supports
the virtual office very nicely. With its rules-based call routing, the
user can be anywhere and still conduct business. And they can tailor the
routing of those calls so that the calls only route the way the user wants
them to route.
We are slated to get a test service account for Communité, which will
integrate with our own Lotus Notes/Domino system (in January 2003,
Communité support for Notes in version 2.2.1 was released). What that
means is that the call routing is handled close to a thousand miles from
our Domino servers. Interactive Intelligence said they could handle a
distributed architecture so we will be testing that. We will be the
ultimate "virtual office" as we travel to other office locations
or are simply mobile and running errands. We will see if it really works
and report back to you.
MOVING TO SOFTWARE - AN EARLY HMP ADOPTER
One of the most interesting issues discussed was Interactive
Intelligence's use of Intel's Host Media Processing software (HMP 1.1).
According to Intel's Web site, "This software performs media
processing tasks on general-purpose servers based on the Intel
architecture without the use of specialized hardware. When installed on a
system, the software looks like an Intel Dialogic board with DM3
architecture to the customer application, but all media processing takes
place on the host processor." The software technology used to perform
the media processing tasks resides on standard high-volume servers without
needing specialized DSP hardware. Intel's HMP 1.1 takes the DSPs off of
the communication boards and onto the server itself, eliminating the need
for boards, thus reducing costs. HMP provides low-level media services
such as playing audio, detecting DTMF, and recording audio.
Interactive Intelligence recently announced the availability of an HMP
version of its IP-PBX product, EIC, its contact center product, Customer
Interaction Center (CIC), and Communité. By moving from a board-based
solution to a software-based solution, Interactive Intelligence will be
able to greatly reduce the cost and complexity of its systems. While
acknowledging that other companies will soon follow suit and migrate to a
software technology, Interactive Intelligence is the first company of its
type to do so, giving it a significant jump on its competitors.
CONTACT CENTER APPLICATIONS
Interactive Intelligence has traditionally been strong in the contact
center space, based on its CIC software - a bundled communications
application suite. Customer representatives from five companies discussed
their use of the CIC for inbound and/or outbound contact centers. Several
of the panelists use CIC's integrated IVR, screen pop, skills-based
routing, and recording capabilities. As an "all-in-one" contact
center solution, customers can take advantage of all of these capabilities
without having to integrate third-party vendors' products (which can also
be done, if desired). While all these customers take advantage of CIC's
basic contact center functionality, only one, Ceridian, uses CIC for
integrated Web chat, Web callback and e-mail queuing and routing.
The customers that are not using these capabilities noted that it is
not because of technical issues, but rather that staffing and personnel
skill issues are holding them back. However, since such functionality has
been available for several years, we really expected to see more practical
use of e-mail and Web interactions from the customer panel.
As far as future plans, all of the CIC customers noted that they are
looking to implement Interactive Intelligence's SIP capabilities, and will
be able to replace multiple servers by using SIP instead. Interactive
Intelligence has a very strong SIP story, and its representative customers
are eager to migrate to SIP. With the company's SIP-based standards
approach to IP telephony, customers can move to IP whenever they are ready
and most of the customers on the panel stated that moving to SIP is next
on their roadmaps.
FOR THE IP FUTURE
Interactive Intelligence's Founder, President and CEO, Dr. Don Brown, gave
us a glimpse into the company's future: The next major release of the
company's core technology platform, Interaction Center Platform 3.0. The
new platform will combine the current EIC and CIC architectures, with the
Communité architecture by using an LDAP directory for the back-end data
store. It will combine the scalability of Communité with the
functionality of EIC/CIC, to create a large-scale IP telephony solution
for hosted or on-premise deployment.
Hosted services will include IP Centrex, contact center automation,
unified communications, and virtual office capabilities. Interaction
Center Platform 3.0 will add a Session Manager, and will be able to run
SIP media servers, and use third-party SIP gateways. Components such as
Queue Manager and Administration Manager can be added and multiple
components can be used to provide redundancy. Communité will move to the
new ICP 3.0 platform, so that its rules-based capabilities and other UC
functions will be available on the EIC and CIC products, as well.
Interactive Intelligence is not as well known as the major enterprise
switch vendors such as Avaya and Nortel, but it has a very compelling
story to tell, particularly for departmental solutions. It is doing all
the right kinds of things for a converged, IP-based communications
environment for the enterprise. While there are some missing pieces in the
evolving solutions, Interactive Intelligence has a strong (and HAPPY)
installed base, and seems to be ahead of the game in terms of its plans
for exploiting SIP. How well it will continue to compete against larger
and better-known telecommunication providers remains to be seen. We expect
to hear some important announcements in the near future that may shake up
the migrating unified communications market, so stay tuned.
What Do You Think?
Interactive Intelligence has built some very interesting converged
products with new features that enterprise users need. Will their approach
fit into your converged communications migration plans within a
distributed, virtual enterprise? Will their technology be most practical
for a "Greenfield" situation? What factors impress you the most
compared with their larger competitors?
Let us know your thoughts by sending your comments to email@example.com. You
can also participate in our forums.
ENTERPRISE SURVEY OF CONVERGED COMMUNICATIONS MIGRATION
The Unified-View has started a comprehensive survey initiative to
track the migration of enterprise organizations towards converged
communications management. The ongoing survey is accessible through
CommWeb and is open to enterprise technology managers responsible for
current telephone or messaging communications and their migration to a
converged network infrastructure and multi-modal communication devices.
Participants in this study will be rewarded with up-to-date perspective
reports of how enterprise organizations are selectively migrating from
their current communication technologies to support various user needs for
enterprise-wide mobility and multi-modal communications.
To participate in this survey now, go to: http://cmp.inquisiteasp.com/surveys/e42wy8
and be sure to type in “TMC” as your Group Identification Code on the
New White Paper
Don’t forget to pull down your free copy of our latest white paper,
“Migrating to Enterprise-wide Communications: The Branch Office
Dilemma,” on enterprise-wide communication applications in a distributed
enterprise. Simply go to our Web site – www.unified-view.com, fill out the
form, and download the paper.
Art Rosenberg and David Zimmer are veterans of the
computer and communications industry and formed The Unified-View to
provide strategic consulting to technology and service providers, as well
as to enterprise organizations, in migrating towards converged wired and
wireless unified communications. They focus on practical user
requirements, implementation issues, and new benefits of multi-modal
communication technologies for individual end users, both as consumers and
as members of enterprise working groups. The latter includes identifying
new responsibilities for enterprise communications management to support
changing operational usage needs most cost-effectively.
to be objective industry thought leaders, Art Rosenberg and David Zimmer
have been publishing their highly-acclaimed syndicated column on unified
messaging and unified communications for over four years to a worldwide
audience of consultancies, technology providers, service providers, and
enterprise technology managers. Both principals are popular speakers at
leading technology conferences and organized the first programs in the
industry focused on the subject of unified messaging/communications. The
Unified-View's website (www.unified-view.com)
is also considered to be a leading source for information on the evolution
of unified communications.
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