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Interactive Intelligence Plans To Make UC Work

Finally, something having to do with unified communications makes sense -- because it really isn't focused on UC at all.

We've mentioned here before that we just don't get UC, and we kind of doubt that anybody else really does, either -- including a lot of the marketers who work for UC vendors. But one vendor that's more or less in the UC space is finally making sense to us, primarily by attaching an actual practical application for UC.

We're written about Interactive Intelligence before, and we were pleased when a couple of folks from the company made the trip to Framingham to see RCPU a couple of weeks back. What they talked about was the first thing even remotely UC-related that has seemed to us capable of generating real value for customers.

Simply put, Interactive Intelligence wants to tie UC with business process automation. In fact, the company is pretty much getting into the BPA business with a little UC on the side. The basic idea is to use UC's find-me-anywhere functionality to automate processes. So, instead of just letting one worker know how to get hold of another worker at a given time, Interactive Intelligence's system would automatically route a process -- say, a claim at an insurance company -- to the right person at the right place...at the right time.

"In a manual process, there's a lot of human latency and inefficiency," Joseph A. Staples, Interactive Intelligence's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, told RCPU in our meeting. "The way the process gets automated is the system knows what happens in the next step."

Now, see, this makes sense to us -- and it seems like a practical application for UC. Instead of just telling Worker A that it's best to reach Worker B by instant messenger in a given moment, this system, which Interactive Intelligence will call Interaction Process Automation, will actually do some something practical by tying business processes to UC functionality. The company plans to have a product by the middle of 2009.

Maybe other vendors are doing this -- Staples allowed that his company will soon be competing, on some level, with like likes of Oracle via Siebel -- and, after all, BPA in and of itself is nothing new. So we'd love to hear from anybody and everybody who's doling something similar.

But the UC angle, if we've understood it correctly, sounds unique to us at this point. And it's the first time we've understood how a company could get any significant value out of a product in the UC space. It's the process automation that matters here -- not strictly the ability to find people when they're in their cars or working at home.

Oh, and by the way, partners, there will be plenty of opportunity for you to do significant customization work, and Interactive Intelligence does have a channel-sales strategy and a partner program.

There are some potential hang-ups. Staples sees his company's vision as being an alternative to enterprise resource planning, rather than complementary to it. And while we see where he's coming from, especially regarding Interactive Intelligence's SMB sweet spot, we're thinking that some ERP integration might not be the worst idea at some point.

Still, everything considered, this is the first UC solution we've seen that makes sense -- mainly because somebody finally realized that UC all by itself isn't really that useful after all.

What's your take on unified communications? Is your company doing anything useful with it? Do you have a product or story you'd like to pitch? We're all eyes at lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on December 03, 2008 at 11:55 AM


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