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Interactive Intelligence Provides Glimpse into PureCloud's Future

CEO Don Brown made it clear in a recent call with financial analysts that PureCloud is not just a multitenant replacement for the company’s traditional product.

If one uses the Gartner Magic Quadrant as a barometer of some measure, there are four contact center market leaders: Avaya, Cisco, Genesys and Interactive Intelligence. From a financial reporting perspective, the Avaya and Cisco contact centers are part of a larger reporting category: collaboration solutions.

Genesys, owned by private equity since January 2012, is not compelled to report detailed financial results. But it is always with eager anticipation that I await Interactive Intelligence's delivery of its annual results, and specifically management's call with the financial analysts. It provides a level of color and granularity on a contact center business that is not provided by other market leaders.

Interactive Intelligence was founded in 1994, started shipping product in 1997, and has been publicly traded since its IPO in 1999. Once a contact center upstart, the company is now 20 years old and continues to be led by original founder and CEO Don Brown. Like several others on the management team, CFO Stephen Head has been with the company for many years (11). Typically, Brown and Head lead the annual financial calls with the analysts.

The "colorful" comments made by Brown during the course of the call are the highlights for me. At times, no doubt a CMO's nightmare, Brown talks enthusiastically about products still in R&D, offering timelines that may or may not materialize (with all the proper caveats by CFO Head upfront).

The Next Big Thing
PureCloud, announced formally in June 2014, has been hailed as the "next big thing" from Interactive Intelligence. The 2014 full year summary call held last week included some interesting comments about it, as well as other Interactive Intelligence solutions:

"One big change we're making this year is to move to simple one-year cloud subscriptions."

This is a simple statement, but with wide-reaching implications. Traditionally, CRM companies (e.g., Salesforce) have billed this way, but contact center vendors have tended to bill in arrears rather than in advance of service delivery. Financial analysts and other industry watchers will be interested to see how this transition is accepted by Interactive Intelligence customers.

"One large CaaS [Communications as a service] customer just this week hit a level of 9,000 concurrent calls."

Competitors love to minimalize Interactive Intelligence's potential impact in the enterprise market, relegating them to SMB status. But 9,000 simultaneous calls for the company's single-instance cloud solution is a performance level way beyond SMB.

"PureCloud Directory is a powerful collaboration tool that serves as a kind of internally-focused LinkedIn."

Directory is the first PureCloud element to become available, in late January. Many enterprise social tools compare themselves to Facebook. With LinkedIn increasingly viewed as an effective business development tool, this analogy may resonate better with prospective customers.

Pricing, shown here, highlights that PureCloud Directory is not an internal-only tool, but allows for use by partners and other external communities as well.


"Next month we will be announcing the general availability of two new PureCloud services. One focused on real-time collaboration with features like point-to-point video, screen sharing, and multiparty videoconferencing; and the second, a powerful content management service that provides capabilities that far surpass those of simple cloud storage services by Box and Dropbox."

What is clear in Brown's discussions of PureCloud is that this is not just a multitenant replacement for the company's traditional product. Describing the next capabilities to be released, Brown said PureCloud's video communications capability will be similar to WebRTC, browser-based offers like Slack. "Old style unified communications phones on desks with DID" will come later.

Brown closed the call by telling the financial analysts, "We're going to have a major presence in the middle of next month at Enterprise Connect down in Orlando."

As the chairperson for the contact center track at Enterprise Connect, I'll be there. Will you? Register now and plan to join Interactive Intelligence's new CMO Jeff Platon during the Contact Center Executive Panel, and VP of Marketing Tim Passios in the Contact Center in the Cloud session.

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