This article originally appeared in the JULY issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY
The migration to cloud-based contact center applications; the adoption of social media as a new channel in the contact center; and managing increasing contact center regulatory/compliance mandates were the major themes of “Interactions 2011,” Interactive Intelligence’s (News - Alert) annual global users’ forum, held May 24-26 at the Indianapolis Downtown Marriott in the company’s corporate hometown of Indianapolis, Ind.
The publicly-traded tech firm, which saw strong growth through the recession, also announced several new products at the event, including its new Interaction Analyzer real-time speech analytics solution, which will be offered as a module for the next release of its flagship contact center/enterprise communications platform, Customer Interaction Center, CIC 4.0; Interaction Web Portal, a new web-based reporting tool; and Interaction Content Manager, a new tool for intelligently storing, organizing and searching content.
Despite the serious storms that moved through the area that week (the same week that a Tornado ripped through Joplin, Mo., killing more than 125 people), which caused some major travel delays, this year’s forum attracted a record crowd of nearly 700 people – almost double the attendance of last year’s user’s forum – from 18 countries. During an interview, Interactive Intelligence founder, Chairman, CEO and President Dr. Don Brown attributed the impressive increase in attendees to the quality of the sessions and keynotes being offered – which keep getting more in-depth every year – as well as the fact that the company has significantly broadened its product offerings in the past couple years, particularly through the acquisition of insurance software solutions provider AcroSoft and accounts receivable management solutions provider Latitude Software. Promotion through TMCnet via Interactive’s Contact Center Solutions community and Business Process Automation channel also helped boost attendance, he said.
“We are seeing a broader array of users every year, partly as a result of the fact that we are placing more focus in certain industries,” Brown said, adding that as Interactive Intelligence continues to expand its offerings, it is driving increasing need among users for in-depth educational sessions such as those offered during “Interactions.” The three-day event featured numerous sessions geared specifically to users working in the insurance and collections industries.
Interactive Intelligence continues to see strong adoption of its Communication-as-a-Service offering, which it officially rolled out in June 2009 (with new applications, features and functionality added in June 2010). The company had previously offered its CIC platform and related applications on a limited, traditional hosted basis prior to unveiling this new, all-web-based version of its all-in-one software suite. According to Chief Marketing Office Joe Staples, the company added about 300 new customers in 2010 – many of them CaaS customers. In addition they’ve seen many existing customers switch over to the CaaS model, as organizations continue to look to cloud-based services to shift capex to opex as well as to gain fast access to the latest and most advanced applications.
“CaaS is one of the fastest growing parts of our business,” said Staples. “In several of the most recent quarters, it has represented 25 to 30 percent of our new order dollar volume. Of our CaaS customers, the majority run our inbound ACD and many have deployed additional CIC applications such as recording, predictive dialing, and IP PBX (News - Alert) capabilities for their business users.”
The company is also playing a key role in helping contact centers make greater use of social media as a new communications channel. Helping to facilitate this is its partnership with social listening solutions provider Buzzient, as well as the fact that its CIC platform now enables integration with other social listening products. During the sessions entitled “The Customer Interaction Center and Social Media” and “Best Practices in Social Media,” Tim Passios (News - Alert), director of solutions marketing for Interactive, helped attendees navigate through all the hype surrounding social media, in order to help them determine whether or not it should be part of their strategy, and also went into detail about how social media channels can be integrated with the CIC platform.
With its special focus on the insurance and accounts receivable management industries, Interactive Intelligence is also playing a more prominent role in helping its contact center customers get a better handle on increasing regulation and compliance mandates, which to a degree are impacting how contact center solutions are designed, in terms of architecture and feature sets. In the session titled “Contact Center Compliance – Top 10 Federal and State Issues,” Ryan Thurman, director of sales and marketing for consultancy Contact Center Compliance, along with attorney Joseph Sanscrainte, discussed U.S. and international “Do Not Call” legislation for contact centers and strategies that organizations can use to keep their companies “out of hot water.”
This year’s User’s Forum, sponsored by CRM solutions provider RightNow Technologies, VoIP solutions provider AudioCodes and TMC (News - Alert), among others, was indeed a strong testament to Interactive Intelligence’s prominence on the contact center space, not just as a solutions provider but as a key strategic partner to the entire industry. Also an indication of Interactive’s commitment is the fact that it won numerous industry awards in the last 12 months – including CRM Magazine’s Service Award, as well as awards from CIO and Network World (News - Alert) magazines.
Perhaps most impressive of all is that the company continued to grow through the recession – taking in more than $35 million in revenue in the first quarter of 2010 and more than $47 million in the first quarter of 2011 – a 37 percent quarter-over-quarter growth rate.
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Edited by Rich Steeves