Business process automation and contact center automation are the two main areas of focus for Interactions '10, Interactive Intelligence's (News - Alert) annual user's conference now underway at the Indianapolis Downtown Marriott - right in the company's corporate hometown in Indianapolis, Ind.
Despite the fact that the recession has caused many organizations to cut back on employee travel, this year's conference, consisting of three days of educational sessions and programs, drew more than 330 registrants - an increase of more than 10 percent over last year's event. Total conference attendance is estimated at around 500, including employees from Interactive Intelligence and its partners.
This year's conference consists of seven tracks and more than 90 sessions designed to educate attendees on practically every feature, every capability, every nuance, every minute detail of Interactive Intelligence's contact center, business process automation, unified messaging and enterprise telephony solutions. More importantly users learn how to more effectively utilize these solutions within the framework of their respective businesses.
Two new "vertical" tracks have also added in the areas of insurance - where Interactive Intelligence now has a special focus, thanks to last year's acquisition of insurance software provider AcroSoft - and banking/outsourcing/ARM (News - Alert), other areas where the company is also seeing strong uptake of its products.
The conference kicked off this morning with a unique stage show where a group of female professional dancers, clad in snug-fitting leotards in the familiar yellow-gold hue used in all of Interactive Intelligence's branding, performed a dance along with a pre-recorded video highlighting the capabilities of Interactive Intelligence's new business process automation solution, Interaction Process Automation, or "IPA."
The new product, which marks a significant broadening of Interactive Intelligence's solution portfolio, was announced at last year's conference and became officially available in February. The video demonstrated a specific case scenario where IPA was used in the processing of a home mortgage loan - specifically it showed how the software streamlined the processing of the loan through each step - from the online application through to the closing, as well as how it allowed for increased transparency into each step for both the lender and the customer. Through the automating of this process, the bank was able to realize new efficiencies and reduce operating costs, while at the same time increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty by providing transparency into each step of the process.
Following this part of the presentation, Interactive Intelligence founder and CEO Don Brown took the stage in his standard T-shirt and blue jeans and provided a brief rundown of the company's highlights for the year, which included the rollout of the newest version of the company's flagship contact center/enterprise communications platform, Customer Interaction Center 3.0. Significant improvements in the platform, Brown explained, include the addition of several new language packs, bringing it to "20-something" languages, total. In addition, voice processing has been moved from the CIC server into the media server, allowing for higher accuracy in speech analytics, among other advantages. The company also introduced numerous new features and capabilities in some of its other products - for example, the company's call recording solution, Interaction Recorder, now includes an "Extreme Query" feature that significantly speeds the search of massive volumes of recorded call data. In addition the company's Interaction Optimizer workforce management tool now includes "Agent Preferences" and "Same Day Re-forecasting," allowing for increased agent satisfaction improved intra-day call center management.
Other new features and improvements include support for HTML e-mail and the addition of "Remote Data Query" and "Play Info" modes in Interaction Attendant, an administrative tool used to create and configure Interactive Intelligence's integrated IVR applications as well as pre-integrated screen pops for Microsoft (News - Alert) Dynamics CRM and GP applications.
But the company's most significant achievement in the past year was its introduction of its new business process automation solution, IPA.
"We believe IPA can be a tremendous adjunct to the contact center," Brown said, adding that the product, which is currently offered as a module for the CIC platform (soon to be offered as a standalone system), helps extend the automation of processes from the contact center into back office departments, thus forming a "bridge" between the two.
Giving brief financial update on the health of the company, Brown said despite the recession, Interactive Intelligence managed to increase revenue by about 10 percent in 2009, "which is remarkable considering that the overall contact center market contracted by about 30 percent." He said the company "more than doubled its profit" from the year prior, and what's more managed to add more than $20 million to its cash reserves. Some of this revenue, he explained, came from the jump-starting of the company's new Communications as a Service (CaaS) offering, which is based on a unique infrastructure "largely based on virtualization." This new offering has enabled Interactive Intelligence to expand its customer base by allowing it to target smaller sized businesses that might not necessarily have the financial and/or IT resources to implement a hardware-based, on-premises contact center system.
Brown said Interactive Intelligence has "big plans" for the insurance industry with several new offerings, including the content management software and other insurance-specific solutions it acquired through its purchase of AcroSoft last May.
One thing coming out of this acquisition, he said, is a new document management software solution for the CIC platform which will be introduced later this year.
Brown said looking forward, Interactive Intelligence is "in it for the long term" in terms of growth and therefore won't be spending a lot of time preoccupied with the daily performance of its stock and the wild fluctuations in the markets. Rather it will focus on growing organically and through innovation - last year the company invested more than 18 percent of its profits back into R&D. Its bread and butter will continue to be IP Telephony - which, Brown said, "sits at the center of all we do" -- followed closely by contact center, unified messaging, unified communications (which Interactive Intelligence primarily addresses through its partnerships, with developers and other vendors, e.g. such as Microsoft and its OCS product), contact center automation and business process automation. Although the latter two were graphically portrayed in the outer concentric circles of the company's strategy, they are new areas where Interactive Intelligence sees strong growth potential -- hence these are two areas where it is currently placing a strong focus.
Brown added that the company plans to introduce version 4.0 of the CIC platform later this year.
Patrick Barnard is a senior Web editor for TMCnet, covering call and contact center technologies. He also compiles and regularly contributes to TMCnet e-Newsletters in the areas of robotics, IT, M2M, OCS and customer interaction solutions. To read more of Patrick's articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi