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Spanlink and Interactive Intelligence: A Match Made in Heaven

OK, so perhaps the headline is a little strong. And I have to admit that these companies are among my favorites in the industry. But the announcement made last week that Spanlink will resell the Interactive Intelligence portfolio is a huge win-win.First, a point of clarification is in order. The press release says that Spanlink will resell Interactive Intelligence's, "Unified IP Business Communications Solutions." Personally, I wasn't sure if that meant that Spanlink was going to sell I3's IP PBX offering, Vonexus, or the contact center solution, Customer Interaction Center, or everything in the portfolio, etc.

Scott Christian, CEO of Spanlink, and Paul Weber, VP of North American sales for Interactive Intelligence, were very clear that this is principally a contact center deal. Weber commented, "If you look at I3's play, if you look at what we do, it's contact center. We like (Spanlink's) focus and expertise in the contact center, and their expertise with Cisco." Christian agreed, saying, "Our value-add is in the contact center space, we have unique and capable skill sets there." That's not to say that Spanlink won't sell a deal where Interactive Intelligence is both the enterprise communications and contact center solution. But as Christian put it, "UC tags along with what we do," implying that UC is not the focus.

In June 2009, Interactive Intelligence announced an expansion of their solution suite into business process automation, Interaction Process Automation (IPA). Given all the recent attention such CEBP-like applications are getting (e.g., the Genesys intelligent Workload Distribution solution), I asked if the new IPA capability played in Spanlink's decision to OEM Interactive Intelligence. Christian said no, that in fact IPA was announced after Spanlink's decision was made. He added, however, that what Spanlink liked was the integrated design and architecture of the Interactive Intelligence solution--and that they expect to benefit from continuing suite expansions, like IPA.

Since 2000, Spanlink has been a very important Advanced Technology Partner implementing Cisco's ICM and Unified Contact Center Enterprise solutions. But Spanlink never sold the mid-market Cisco solution, Unified Contact Center Express. They see the Interactive Intelligence portfolio as one they can successfully use to broaden their addressable market to include smaller centers - hundreds of agents instead of thousands.

The flip side of that is Interactive Intelligence's designs on the higher end of the market--thousands-of-agent deals instead of hundreds. Interactive Intelligence was drawn to, "Spanlink's national scope and strong reputation in large call centers." Hence the match made in heaven comment--