As we get ready to bid farewell to 2007 and look ahead to 2008, I posed several questions to some of the leading companies in the IP Communications space, among them Interactive Intelligence. Joseph A. Staples, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing for Interactive Intelligence responded.
GG: As you look back at 2007, how would you describe Interactive Intelligence’s (News - Alert) experience over the past 12 months?
Fast and furious. We are fortunate to be participating in a mass market migration to voice over IP
. That migration is creating opportunities for vendors like us who have built our products on the open SIP standard and created applications that benefit from VoIP
. The market is growing at 25 percent, which is huge. We are growing at 35 percent, signifying an increase in our market share at the expense of several large legacy vendors.
GG: What were some of the highlights of 2007?
JS: We've worked very hard over the past three years to move up-stream in the contact center automation, enterprise IP telephony, and enterprise messaging markets. Our product scalability is now three times what it was in 2005. This increased scalability has enabled us to win a record number of $1 million-plus contracts in 2007. Today we have individual contact centers and enterprises running thousands of users on our platform. We see this move up-market continuing as we plan for even greater increases in scalability in ‘08.
Another highlight during the year was our placement in the Leaders Quadrant in Gartner’s (News - Alert) Magic Quadrant for Contact Center report. This is significant, particularly for large enterprises that heavily weigh corporate viability and completeness of vision in their buying decisions, since a primary criterion for inclusion in the report is sufficient differentiation.
In addition, our financial performance has been very strong. In 2006, USA Today reported that Interactive Intelligence was the second best-performing stock on the Nasdaq. We’ve continued that momentum with multiple favorable mentions throughout 2007 in top financial journals such as Barron’s, Investor’s Business Daily and Motley Fool. Third-party validation such as this is helping us level the playing field against our largest competitors. At the same time it’s giving large enterprises a new buying option: the most innovative technology combined with an experienced and viable vendor.
Also helping us move up-market is an ever-broadening product portfolio. In 2007 we launched the second generation of our SIP
gateway and we saw excellent uptake of our new workforce management product, Interaction Optimizer.
GG: What can our readers expect to see from Interactive Intelligence in 2008?
JS: We’ll continue to transition from a software to a solutions company with new products and services, and we’ll continue to more effectively meet the needs of the large enterprise. We’ll also target specific new geographies for expansion, such as Japan, and continue to cultivate our 250-plus global reseller channel.
In particular, we think this will be a great year for our enterprise messaging business. We have a highly scalable product and the last significant buying cycle for the messaging market was prompted by Y2K back in 1999. Those legacy systems are nearing their end-of-life. They are now eight years old and fully depreciated. We have an extremely cost-effective and flexible replacement option for customers, particularly those with distributed sites such as higher education institutions.
Another area in which we believe we can offer customers major benefit is the overall migration to VoIP. The market isn't even a third of the way through the cycle, and with about 80 percent of our systems now being deployed within IP environments, we’re offering customers not just a true open standards approach to VoIP, but also a large installed reference base of proven IP-based installations.
GG: Are you planning any new product rollouts early in the year?
JS: Version 3.0 of our foundational Interaction Center Platform is our next big introduction. It includes increased scalability with support for TLS and SRTP; broader integration with products such as Microsoft (News - Alert) OCS and Microsoft Exchange 2007; simplified deployment through the auto-provisioning of Polycom IP phones; and enhanced mobility with speech recognition-driven access to Microsoft Exchange calendar, along with a version of our Interaction Client running on Smartphones and Pocket PCs.
A little later in the year look for our scalability to take another significant jump, and watch for some exciting new applications that will continue to help customers cost-effectively extend customer service beyond the call center.
GG: What are some of the industry trends that you’ve been keeping an eye on and what effect will they have on Interactive Intelligence's roadmap as we head into 2008?
JS: Certainly the first is this whole industry focus on unified communications. It is still so undefined and the market is very confused watching vendors re-brand their entire product lines with the “UC” term as if it was something completely new, when in fact much of the technology and applications have been around for years. Currently, this hype, at best, is simply offering a few nice collaboration features with some soft ROI. We’ll resist jumping on the “term-du-jour” bandwagon, and instead focus on what customers need and what we can deliver to make a real difference in their business.
A related trend that we think has huge potential is business process automation (which is what UC will eventually evolve to). Our communications platform (with its routing
, reporting and tracking capabilities, etc.) can be purposed as a method of automating key business processes. These are items such as loan processing, claims processing, and order management processes. This is something you'll see us focus on in 2008 and beyond and something that we think can have a major impact on business efficiencies.
Greg Galitzine is editorial director of TMCnet. To read more of Greg’s articles, please visit his columnist page.
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