Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Interactive Intelligence Transforming the Contact Center

October 27, 2011

I just returned from the annual partner event of Interactive Intelligence. There is so much to talk about in terms of how the company is transforming the contact center sector. Actually, as the name of its flagship product, the Customer Interaction Center (CIC), may be a more apt description of the space, it is a bit of a challenge to know where to begin.  

In fact, the breadth and depth of what Interactive Intelligence is doing to transform not just the way customers can interact with your organization, but also break down the barriers between contact centers and the rest of the enterprise and improve work flows intra-enterprise and across ecosystems, will be the highlight of a series of articles. 

The company’s forthcoming release of CIC 4.0, its growing success in the key area of Interaction Process Automation (IPA), the introduction and impact of real-time speech analytics, and a host of other interesting improvements foretells a lot about how contact centers can rapidly shed their reputation as cost center gatekeepers and transform into true gateways that improve enterprise operations while leveraging the benefits of enriched customer experiences that will drive the bottom line. The reason quite simply is that engaged and delighted customers in a world where efficient and effective service is proving to be a huge differentiator in the market is emerging as a C-level priority around the world.

Well-positioned for the future

Fresh off an impressive third quarter, including seemingly catching the cloud wave at just the right time in creative implementations of Communications as a Service (CaaS), the event kicked off with Interactive Intelligence CMO, Joe Staples, showing a slide that brought both a chuckle and applause from the partners. It simply said, “We are the hot date to the dance!” Based on discussions with numerous partners and satisfied customers, this was no hyperbole.

The reality in contact center solutions has always been that if you put the right tools in the hands of the right people at the right time so they can respond to customers efficiently, effectively and rapidly, ROIs improve dramatically, churn is reduced, brand stewardship is improved on multiple fronts, and profitability can soar. Interestingly, by taking what they know about best-practices and incorporating them into the soon-to-be-released CIC 4.0, in conjunction with other enhancements, Interactive Intelligence is raising the bar not just on contact center performance (bringing in tight integration with Microsoft Lync, social media and mobile devices) but also by taking its expertise and applying it to business process management and automation (BPM and BPA) via IPA.  

The company is positioning itself and its ecosystem to be important players in the explosive BPA market, and also positioning its customers to be able to differentiate themselves in a world driven by real-time interactions, being inexorably driven by the triple threat of cloud-social-mobility, that create some real-time risks as well as substantial opportunities. In other words, a premium is going to be placed on having trusted and adaptive partnerships and keen awareness of the insights that can be gained and then quickly applied from the right people properly using the right tools.

A look under the hood 

So as some who is a skeptic by nature, what got my attention? Here it is at a high level with just a few of the highlights, which is what is necessitating a deeper dive.

Release 4.0

  • Built for the latest servers;
  • Scalable to be deployed in the largest contact centers;
  • Ideal for the cloud;
  • A platform that is social and mobile-friendly;
  • The best integration with Microsoft Lync (details to come);
  • Better reporting and analytics;
  • Virtualization;
  • Web chat.


  • It works, and case studies are available that demonstrate ROI – by allowing the system to make rules-based choices on workflow so humans can concentrate on solving customer instead of process problems;
  • Horizontal functionality but easily customizable for vertical implementations.


  • Seeing is believing. Fourteen-day free trial that allows customers using their own data to take CIC out for a spin and put it through its paces. Demo said it could be done in under 10 minutes and it took eight using a highly intuitive interface.

Interaction Analyzer

  • Lets supervisors watch keyword usage in real-time from both the agent and customer perspectives in real-time, inexpensively (yes, speech analytics are both expensive and have not been provided to date in real-time) and adjust allocation of contact center resources accordingly.

I will reveal later what partners told me floated their boats about what is about to hit the market with 4.0 and IPA. I listed Interaction Analyzer last because it was my favorite. The caveat here is fortunately/unfortunately I have a lot of experience with contact centers that are really good at saying they are sorry, but not very useful in terms of solving my problem. I don’t know about you, but I estimate 7 out of 10 calls I make for help result in long conversations with supervisors. This is bad for the company in terms of its use of people, and in a world where a bad session can go viral on Facebook or even YouTube in minutes can be devastating to brand stewardship. 

In fact, as an aside, I agreed with Interactive Intelligence that getting the customer experience right is what makes the inclusion of social media an enormous opportunity, but it also means putting the cart behind the horse.

How Interaction Analyzer works is straightforward. Keywords are entered into the system and then their usage by the agent and customer are displayed on a dashboard. If a supervisor sees curse words occurring a lot for instance from customers, or “cancel my subscription,” “I will never do business with you again,” etc., they know it is time to change things up. Likewise, from a supervisory perspective, given contact center agent churn rates, being able to evaluate agent performance based on them sticking to scripts, ensuring they are up-selling, etc., may seem a bit big brotherish but the upside in terms of improving agent performance is tangible just from watching the streams as I did.

As I said, getting the right tools in the right hands at the right time, every time and all the time, I should add, is the holy grail of contact center solutions. I am delighted to have the opportunity of give you this glimpse and more into how far and how fast one company is driving toward getting the grail and how in the process they are redefining customer interaction and an entire industry sector. Nice to have a great date for the dance.

Peter Bernstein is a technology industry veteran, having worked in multiple capacities with several of the industry's biggest brands, including Avaya, Alcatel-Lucent, Telcordia, HP, Siemens, Nortel, France Telecom, and others, and having served on the Advisory Boards of 15 technology startups. To read more of Peter's work, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf