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Intervoice - New President, New Approach

To level set, Intervoice has 25 years in the self-service/IVR market, integrating with everyone's contact centers, and in September, 2006 they acquired IP contact center player, Nuasis, in order to provide the entire contact center experience themselves. Intervoice sells contact center, voice portal, mobile messaging, video, speech and multi-modal applications to both carrier and enterprise customers and provides both on-premise and hosted solutions.

Jim and I talked about the integration of the different product lines, and how after R&D and some revamping of their product packaging, their efforts have really begun bearing fruit.

A contributing factor to these results is that Intervoice made the decision to create platform editions to address different market segments, rather than market one luxury edition to all segments. So they created a Voice Portal Express product to be more easily sold with packaged applications through partners, plus two more fully featured editions - Voice Portal Enterprise and Enterprise Pro, with more capabilities, development and management tools, etc. While this might not seem like a big deal, what it's done for Intervoice is make them more nimble in a sales situation, allowing them to show up and not be overdressed when they are invited to the party. Plus it enables them to more readily compete in a market that has changed a lot in the past five years with the introduction of so many different kinds of new competitors in the contact center space.

What was more noteworthy was our discussion about speech recognition and packaged applications. Intervoice has been along for the ride on every market iteration of "packaged" applications that the self-service industry has tried in the past two decades. I know, because I've watched them. In fact, all vendors in the industry have made some attempts at packaged applications with varying levels of success. For Intervoice, their earlier packaged application success story is their pre-packaged banking application. This is something they were able to improve upon with the addition of Edify. Edify in particular, had a pretty detailed banking package due to its relationship with its previous parent company, which was deep into the banking industry. With two banking packages I always wondered which would emerge, but what Intervoice came out with, was the best of both, and it has been bearing fruit for them. They have sold 32 of these applications just in the last three months, all of which were in the $75-100K range, which is really impressive. They believe they have the right go to market model and partners to continue on this path and expect to accelerate sales of this application in the future.

The other notable piece of this was that over 50% of those sold applications were speech-enabled, which really piqued my interest-I wondered what drove so many customers to speech. Jim said it was mostly due to the fact that the package is so easy to deploy that speech was then easy to deploy too. Plus, from my perspective, the finance sector has always been the early adopters in our industry, so I feel that speech is becoming pretty standard, so it just makes sense to do it if you can do it simply.

Finally, we talked about how their hosted business has grown, for all of the reasons you hear about - business continuity, CAPEX vs. OPEX decisions, wanting to lease the expertise rather than find and hire their own., etc. In addition, customers are using Intervoice hosting managed services to monitor their applications 24/7. Besides all those reasons, we both agreed that the hosting business will continue to grow due to the current and near term economic conditions we are experiencing in the US.

So what is up next for Intervoice? They will probably be building on the success of their banking application by honing in on some other verticals. In addition, in the coming months he mentioned that they will be unveiling new contact center voice portal capabilities, but regrettably I'll be forced to wait until their analyst briefing this spring before I can give any details here.