Interactive Intelligence 'Thinks Different' with PureCloud Communicate
Let's take a detailed look at the company's latest foray into the UC market.
So many UC vendors have made plays in the hosted UC services game that I sometimes wonder if the trend is newsy any more. Mitel has long offered hosted services based on its own technology. ShoreTel offers them based on acquired technology, and is in the process of transitioning over to its own. Avaya delivers a diverse set of services in different delivery models. And Cisco seems to be testing the hosted UC services market with its hosted video conferencing service. NEC, Toshiba, Polycom... the list goes on, and on.
And now comes Interactive Intelligence, whose entry into the hosted UC services market has been a year in the making. The company is taking a rather Jobsian "Think Different" approach to PureCloud Communicate, which is scheduled for general availability on June 30. So let's take a somewhat detailed look at Interactive's latest foray into the UC market and how it's different from what you might expect in a newly launched cloud communications service.
Thinking Different, Part 1: Team Collaboration First
You may recall that when Interactive acquired OrgSpan last year its plan was to sell OrgSpan Select (social profiles for contact center agents) and OrgSpan Connect (profile-driven directory for enterprises) as standalone apps and as add-ons to its own solutions. That plan has completely changed.
OrgSpan, which was founded by a former Interactive employee and in part funded by Interactive, no longer exists as a separate company. Rather, Interactive has completely absorbed the company, retiring the standalone OrgSpan apps in the process.
Meanwhile, Interactive's PureCloud Social Customer Service, a rebranding of OrgSpan Select introduced in a 2014 press release and expected to become generally available by the end of last year, hasn't materialized, despite this product page. Interactive said it plans to release it sometime down the road. OrgSpan Connect, for its part, was rebranded PureCloud Directory, which Interactive launched in January 2015 but subsequently discontinued as a distinct product. The OrgSpan Connect/PureCloud Directory technology lives on in PureCloud Collaborate, providing underlying directory and messaging capabilities.
So the plan now is to deliver an entirely new set of PureCloud-branded services: Collaborate, Communicate, and Engage. Collaborate, offered as a freemium service, is a team collaboration app with a feature set highly comparable to Unify Circuit, Cisco Spark, Slack, and the many other such apps that have burst on the scene. PureCloud Communicate is a business telephony-centric service that, combined with PureCloud Collaborate, provides a complete hosted UC service.
That is to say, Communicate builds on Collaborate. Businesses wanting hosted UC from Interactive first sign up for PureCloud Collaborate. This gets them:
- Rich, searchable profiles (evidence of the OrgSpan heritage)
- Chat rooms
- IM and presence
- File sharing and document storage
- Content management and search tools
- Screen sharing with up to five participants
- Desktop video conferencing with up to five participants
- All the other stuff you'd associate with a team collaboration app
PureCloud Collaborate is free for up to 1TB of document storage and with limited support. Collaborate Pro, a premium service, costs $10 per user per month for unlimited storage, advanced search tools, app integrations, and premium support. PureCloud Communicate and PureCloud Engage are also premium services, adding telephony and contact center functionality, respectively.
Without enumerating all Communicate features (which you can get here and here), what interests me most is how Interactive has essentially made its hosted PBX service an add-on to its team collaboration app. Communicate brings PBX features, IP phones, unified messaging, IVR, fax, call recording, PSTN calling and other business telephony features to Collaborate, while Collaborate gives Communicate IM and group chat, document storage and sharing, and desktop video conferencing.
There are, of course, others that do this sort of thing. Bitrix24 is the one that springs first to mind, mainly because I profiled the company earlier this year in my team collaboration slideshow here on No Jitter. But the UC vendors we usually talk about here generally don't take this tack, for either their UC or team collaboration services.
Are businesses looking for hosted UC services tied so closely to team collaboration software? I'm not entirely sure. Team collaboration apps are very sexy right now, thanks to Slack's incredible momentum. Business comms vendors are scrambling to get a piece of the team collaboration app action. But I think the jury is still out, both as regards to their staying power and their relevance to traditional UC solutions. And if team collaboration apps fizzle, a UC service tied directly to one could do so, too.
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