• October 9, 2007
  • By Coreen Bailor, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Interactive Intelligence Plugs in an Upgrade

Interactive Intelligence has unveiled Interaction Center Platform (ICP) Version 3.0, the latest version of its contact center automation and enterprise IP telephony software platform. ICP is the foundation for two of the company's flagship products -- Customer Interaction Center (CIC) and Vonexus Enterprise Interaction Center (Vonexus EIC) -- and features functionality improvements across four buckets:
  • security;
  • integration;
  • deployment; and
  • mobility.
CIC 3.0 and Vonexus EIC 3.0, which will be available in North America by the end of the fourth quarter and in other parts of the world starting the first quarter of next year, will be offered through the company's channel of more than 250 value-added resellers, according to the vendor. The company added that "core pricing" does not increase with the introduction of the upgraded software. There are several key customer concerns around security, according to Joseph Staples, senior vice president of marketing at Interactive Intelligence. For starters, VoIP implementations are becoming more of a data-level issue, he says, adding that he believes the shift is "probably causing a little bit of a slowdown in VoIP adoption." Staples also notes that the larger the organization, the greater the anxiety about security. To address these issues, the latest ICP release includes the following features:
  • new support for secure real-time transport protocol (SRTP) and transport layer security (TLS) to encrypt audio and call information;
  • recording encryption;
  • stricter password-generation requirements;
  • the use of public/private key certificates; and
  • the ability to handle communications between secure and non-secure devices.
Overall, Staples says, the updated platform "reduces the chance of spoofing and eavesdropping, and makes the environment more secure." "Interactive Intelligence has taken the key end-user concerns we hear every day and incorporated them into its latest software upgrade," said Ken Landoline, senior analyst for Yankee Group, in a statement. "Particularly for organizations migrating to IP, as well as large enterprises, this new software's security and deployment enhancements are extremely beneficial." A huge chunk of Interactive Intelligence's value proposition has been its ability to deliver an all-in-one contact center solution. But Staples notes that the company can integrate with technology from several vendors. "Most companies we go into, we're not the only ones there," Staples says. "So we have done a lot of work in that area." Here is a partial list of some of its existing integrations:
  • CRM: BMC Remedy, CDC Software's Pivotal CRM, FrontRange Solutions, Infor's Epiphany, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Onyx Software (a Consona CRM solution), Oracle's PeopleSoft and Siebel Systems, Salesforce.com, and SAP
  • Automated Call Distributors: Alcatel-Lucent's Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories
  • Call Recording: Verint Systems and its Verint Witness Actionable Solutions
  • Interactive Voice Response: Nortel Periphonics
  • Switches: 3Com, Avaya and its Tenvois component, Cisco Systems, Ericsson, Fujitsu, ISDX, Mitel, NEC, Nortel, Philips, ROLM, and Siemens
The latest ICP release also introduces new connections to Microsoft infrastucture: new integration with Microsoft Office Communications Server, which embeds call-control capabilities into the Microsoft Office Communicator client; and with Microsoft Exchange 2007 Unified Messaging, which provides server-based tools for access to voice, fax, and email data, as well as the ability to use the phone to manage email, calendar, and contacts, according to the company. Another integration component within the release is Interaction Center Extension Library (IceLib) -- an upgraded application-programming interface and software development kit, the company said. Historically, Interactive Intelligence has been more focused on SMBs and midsize contact centers, but in the last couple of years the company has expanded that focus to target larger outfits, according to Joe Outlaw, president and chief analyst of Outlaw Research, a firm specializing in research on contact center solutions for service for SMBs and large enterprises. Increased security and broader integration capabilities are two reasons ICP is a more credible and appealing product to large enterprises and large contact centers, he maintains. "Yes, it has the all-in-one capability, but it can link well into other solutions that [end-user companies have]," Outlaw says, referring to broad integration. Version 3.0 also focuses on simplifying deployment by including new auto-provisioning for Polycom phones, automated service updates, and an enhanced Web version of the desktop client, according to the company. "They want to leverage the network connectivity they have, not only at the time of deployment but [in terms of] ongoing maintenance," Staples says. For the moment, the auto-provisioning feature is exclusive to Polycom phones, according to Christine Holley, director of market communications for Interactive Intelligence. "About 80 percent or more of our enterprise customers use this brand of phone," Holley writes in an email. "Depending on customer demand, however, we may expand that feature to other phones." Meanwhile, the offering is equipped with several components intended to aid the mobile workforce, including integration of Microsoft Exchange calendar with Interactive Intelligence's Mobile Office application; integration with Loquendo's speech recognition engine; and a graphical client interface that supports the Windows Mobile 5.0 and 6.0 operating systems, the company said. "The big thing this release says to the market is, 'We have the ability to make significant jumps in capability each time and we're committed to build our product rapidly. We can do it and we are doing it,' " Outlaw says. "Despite the size of Interactive Intelligence relative to some of its larger market leading competitors -- companies like Avaya, Cisco, Nortel -- it has a very strong development engine and is making significant strides in the building of its Customer Interaction Center. The scope of the release indicates that." Related articles: Fewer Vendors Sit Atop Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications Alcatel-Lucent, Microsoft, and Nortel retain their positions as leaders, but Cisco Systems and Siemens fall out of the top quadrant; Interactive Intelligence moves up a notch. Gartner Restores a Leader to Its Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure Interactive Intelligence moves back into the top quadrant, joining Aspect, Avaya, Cisco, Genesys, and Nortel. Interactive Intelligence Calls on Hosted Services The company has beefed up its SaaS functionality by making available hosted automated outbound notification services and all of its contact center applications. Interactive Intelligence's New Puzzle Piece The vendor debuts its workforce optimization module, which--thanks to pre-integration with its contact center suite--will make it available to the SMB segment, according to one industry pundit. Feature: The 2006 Rising Star and Service Excellence Awards Interactive Intelligence offers one of the most robust, integrated contact center suites on the market today, solidifying its place as one of CRM magazine's 2006 Rising Stars.
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