Cloud Center News

ConnectSolutions Partners with Reseller to Install its MeetingCloud Solutions for Lync

ConnectSolutions announced recently that it was partnering with Enabling Technologies to setup its Meeting Cloud for Microsoft Lync.

San Francisco-based ConnectSolutions (CoSo) provides Adobe Connect and . Customers can choose from solutions ranging from turnkey installations that are up and running quickly to more complex systems that have numerous requirements and need more customization.

MeetingCloud solutions come in three different plans. The low-end version, TeamUp Complete is designed more for small and medium businesses. It will integrate with PC and Mac desktops, as well as the Android and iOS mobile devices. The likely customers in this area are SMBs wanting a system that is simple to setup and use. They also don’t want to be bound by contracts.

TeamUp Premium is CoSo’s mid-range solution that integrates with Active Directory and Skype. The customer can setup and use the solution on a temporary basis before committing to purchase a license.

TeamUp Custom is at the high end of the market, but is the most customizable of the three. It can be fully integrated with the customer’s installation, offers more security than the other two options and supports hybrid environments.

Glen Arm, Md.-based Enabling Technologies Corp. (ETC) is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner that assists customers with setup and installation of UC and related products, especially those on the opposite end of the spectrum from the turnkey solutions.

One of its greatest success stories comes from the work it did setting up a meeting system for architecture and engineering firm . The company has three offices along the East Coast and one in Southern California. ETC set them up with a meeting solution that saved $20,000-$30,000 annually over the previous Cisco-based solution.

The relationship between CoSo and ETC seems to have great potential for success. ETC has demonstrated with installations like the one at Ewing Cole that it can deal with challenging projects, something beyond the scope of CoSo’s skill set. The popularity of Lync and UC in general should keep both firms occupied for the next few years. 

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iG04 Partners Turns to Interactive Intelligence for Contact Center Solution

The lifeblood of insurance companies is handling all types of customer inquiries efficiently and effectively. It is why so much attention by insurers has been paid recently to substantially up-grading/transforming their customer interaction capabilities from handling claims to automating all aspects of what has been a labor intensive workflow environment.

U.K.-based personal line of insurance firm iGO4 Partners is one company that recognized the need to upgrade its contact center to next generation functionality as part of its overall ICT transformation to provide better customer experiences. To do so, it turned to customer experience solutions provider Interactive Intelligence as its vendor for modernization and automation in the form of Interactive’s  flagship  Customer Interaction Centre (CIC) solution. The CIC solutions will be used to support iGO4 Partners’ three contact center operations in Peterborough and Colchester, England which have 350 agents between them.

iGO4 has a broad portfolio of insurance products covering car, home and van insurance. It is recognized as being a leader in the U.K. of development of telematics-based products, which enable insurers to calculate risk and set premiums based on actual driving behavior.

According to iGO4 it selected Interactive Intelligence’s CIC solution, deployed via the cloud from the Communications as a Service platform, based on a series of criteria. This included the need for scalability, multi-media support, PCI-DSS compliance and future-proofing.

The CaaS cloud-based offering from Interactive Intelligence includes:

  • Omni-channel support
  • Inbound ACD
  • Automatic dialer capabilities
  • Workforce optimization functionality
  • Back office telephony.

The solution also includes Interaction Marquee, an add-on tool that enables users to view and display real-time statistics on wall boards, LED screens, monitors, and smart phone mobile devices.

In comments about the selection Ruth Dickens, iGO4, operations director says, “In addition to meeting our current requirements, CIC from Interactive Intelligence is the ideal deployment model to support the future needs of our business, our partners and our customers as we expand the services we offer.” She added that, “The customized solution delivers a full range of intuitive management information that enables us to streamline and better manage operations and gives us the flexibility we need to develop tailored solutions for our partners in this fast-paced, changing market.”

Dave Paulding, regional director U.K., Middle East, Interactive Intelligence, says, “CaaS is ideal for operations that require a high level of trust, functionality and flexibility, and nowhere is this more evident than in the insurance industry. In addition, the cloud-based solution adds a level of agility to iGO4’s operation as it deployed across its three main offices.”

“iGO4 is focused on operational excellence and controlling and developing the best end-to-end customer journeys for their clients. CIC enables the company’s contact centre agents to take full advantage of the versatility of the solution from a compliance and quality point of view to deliver on these requirements,” concluded Paulding.

The decision to upgrade and to do so via a CaaS solution are indicative of two major trends not just in the insurance sector but in general when it comes to using next generation communications to enhance the customer experience. The first is the recognition by all companies that there is a sense of urgency to keep pace with the ways in which customers wish to interact, which puts a premium on having omni-channel capabilities sooner rather than later. The second is looking to the cloud as the delivery vehicle for such solutions as the business case for doing so becomes more and more compelling. 

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Interactive Intelligence Q3 Earnings-Cloudy is a Good Thing and New CMO Announced

Indianapolis, IN-based global customer experience software and services company Interactive Intelligence Group released its financial results for the third-quarter of 2014 (Q3) ended September 30, 2014.  The results continue a series of quarters where the company’s focus on the cloud and the role it is playing in overall results continues to dominate the short-term results as well as the long term prospects. And, as in the , results are in line with the challenges of evaluating not just Interactive Intelligence but all software solutions companies who are seeing more and more of their business move away from premises-based solutions to cloud and hybrid ones.

Interactive Intelligence’s 3Q 2014 financial results are illustrative of the changes roiling the software industry as a result of cloud adoption.  However, the pipeline looks good, the cloud business continues to increase and is the dominant and growing percentage of orders, and the introduction of the multi-tenant AWS hosted PureCloud offer due for full release in 4Q of this year puts the company in a great competitive position.  In addition, it also will allow Interactive to play in the expanding all-in-one communications markets across the board as its move to the cloud enables it to compete with a competitive offering in unified communications (UC) and mobility areas where it currently does not.

Plus, as revealed during the call, it gives new Chief Marketing Officer, industry vet Jeff Platon (see below) a lot to work with.

The transition continues as cloud dominates

Below are the Q3 numbers. Obviously the cloud-related numbers are the ones to pull out and understand.  Reported results were as follows:

 Third -Quarter 2014 Financial Highlights:

Orders: Total orders increased 46 percent from the third quarter of 2013, with cloud-based orders up 104 percent to represent 68 percent of total orders. In the third quarter of this year, 56 orders were signed over $250,000, including 12 orders over $1 million, compared to 47 orders over $250,000, including 12 orders over $1 million in the same quarter last year.

Revenue: Total revenue was $89.5 million, up 15 percent from the 2013 third quarter. Recurring revenue, including support fees from on-premises license agreements and fees from cloud-based customers, increased 28 percent to $48.1 million and accounted for 54 percent of total revenue. Cloud-based revenue increased 70 percent to $14.7 million. Product revenue was $27.8 million and services revenue $13.6 million, compared to $26.9 million and $13.5 million, respectively, in the same quarter last year.

Total Deferred Revenue: As of Sept. 30, 2014, deferred revenue was $107.5 million, compared to $108.7 million at the end of the 2013 third quarter, and the amount of unbilled future cloud-based revenue increased to $265.9 million from $153.0 million at the end of the 2013 third quarter. The combination of deferred and unbilled future cloud-based revenue grew to $373.4 million, up 43 percent from $261.7 million at the end of the 2013 third quarter.

Operating Income (Loss): GAAP operating loss was $(3.5) million, compared to GAAP operating income of $3.7 million in the 2013 third quarter. Non-GAAP* operating income was $0.5 million, compared to non-GAAP operating income of $6.7 million in the same quarter last year.

Income Taxes: Income tax benefit was $1.3 million, with an estimated annual effective tax rate of 41.0 percent.

Net Income (Loss): GAAP net loss was $(2.1) million, or $(0.10) per diluted share based on 20.9 million weighted average diluted shares outstanding, compared to GAAP net income in the same quarter of 2013 of $1.6 million, or $0.08 per diluted share based on 21.2 million weighted average diluted shares outstanding.

Non-GAAP net income:  For Q3 was $0.3 million, or $0.01 per diluted share, compared to non-GAAP net income of $4.1 million, or $0.20 per diluted share in the same quarter last year.

In addition, the company had cash, cash equivalents, and investments totaling $69.6 million as of Sept. 30, 2014, compared to $86.0 million as of June 30, 2014. And, in regards to cash flows the company used $6.9 million for operating activities in the third quarter and $4.0 million for capital expenditures, including the continued expansion of its cloud infrastructure, and capitalized $5.1 million for PureCloud development costs.

In commenting about the results, Interactive Intelligence founder and CEO Dr. Donald Brown stated,

“This quarter showed further evidence of our success in generating more revenue from our cloud-based services,” said Dr. Donald E. Brown, Interactive Intelligence founder and CEO. “Orders for our cloud solutions not only doubled from the same quarter last year, but moved from less than half to over two-thirds of our total orders received. This growth and shift to the cloud occurred across all of our major geographic markets, and was more prominent among sales to new customers compared to existing follow-on sales.”

“We continue to deploy our cloud solutions for new customers, which will contribute to increasing cloud revenues. We expect that the first release of our new multi-tenant PureCloud solution this quarter will further accelerate this trend,” Brown concluded.

As noted, the company’s cloud business continues to make impressive strides, and CEO Brown during the Q&A with the financial analysts stated that he was, “very pleased with execution this quarter,” which exceeded guidance. He also in response to a question about competitive positioning remarked that as the company’s PureCloud AWS-based multi-tenant, self-service, self-sign on capabilities come online that, “We think we are improving our competitive position going forward.” This is on top of an observation that the growth in the company’s cloud business is indicative of the lead it already enjoys when it comes to cloud-based customer experience solutions.

It should also be noted that PureCloud was the center of most of the non-numbers part of the call. Both Brown and CFO Steven Head discussed the timeline for rollouts and revenue recognition. On the rollout front, Brown stated that the PureCloud Directory capabilities will be going GA before the end of the year with a phased introduction of the UC, contact center and social elements over the first few quarters of 2015. Head cautioned that in terms of overall impact on revenues for next year that while there is market enthusiasm for PureCloud around the world, significant revenue impact since this is a pure cloud service will not likely be seen until beyond 2014.

Brown also made an interesting observation in answer to a question about the company’s Small Center solution when he noted that they have learned a lot about the market from the offer, and also are applying some things they like in terms of how to address it from partner Zendesk in terms of what SMBs appreciate, which will be integral to PureCloud and why it should be attractive to companies of all sizes and all regions.

In discussing the results, the executives also cited the trend over the last few quarters away from premises solutions and toward the cloud, which they do not see changing although they believe it has slowed.

Finally, Brown announced that Interactive Intelligence has a new Chief Marketing Officer, Jeff Platon. He was a top marketing executive at Cisco Systems, and recently was CMO and executive VP-marketing at Guttenberg Communications.  In his dozen-year stint at Cisco, Platon helped craft its “Cisco Self Defending Network” push, which sparked revenues of its security business from $240M to a market leading $2.3B. He also worked a combined 13 years at McAfee, Exabyte and Burroughs, the former Unisys.

Brown noted that Platon brings with him a strong online marketing background from experience at Cisco and McAfee, and whose skills he said fit well with the company’s intentions on how to accelerate sales growth going forward, particularly in the marketing of PureCloud.

All in all a nice quarter. It is certainly one that others in the industry looking to the cloud as major parts of their business going forward will take note of as Interactive Intelligence continues to be a bell weather of where the industry is heading. 

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Vocalcom Intros Cloud-based Contact Center Solution for US SMBs

In the digital age, customer services are delivered through audio, video, social media and various other channels. Savvy customers demand more from contact centers. Under this backdrop, more and more small and medium businesses are embracing cloud hosted contact center solutions to offer superior customer services. Delivered as platform as a service, these cloud-based solutions let businesses scale up and down according to seasonal needs and save costs. Given the tremendous growth potential of cloud contact center market, Vocalcom, a well known vendor has come up with a new, feature rich cloud contact center platform. Called Vocalcom Cloud, the solution has been specially designed for the small and medium sized businesses.

One of the major benefits of hosted contact center solution is: it helps streamline IT. The feature rich Vocalcom Cloud is highly scalable and as such can support the needs of both large enterprises and small businesses. Features or additional seats can be easily added to support the growth of a company.

Companies can easily add functionality or additional seats as their business grows, or as it cycles through seasonal or situational volume influxes making the solution a highly versatile, low-risk investment.

The platform can be set up quickly and without any additional investments. In fact, the platform allows a call center to be up and running in hours with no setup costs, or capital investment.

In addition to voice, web chat, SMS and email interactions, Vocalcom cloud also incorporates self service features. The software has also been designed to support mobile applications, using mobile API. The software can be used to launch campaign for a variety of channels. 

Above all, Vocalcom Cloud is backed by around the clock support.

Because of all these benefits Vocalcom Cloud makes a low risk investment for the small as well big businesses.

It will be worthwhile to mention here that Vocalcom supports some 10 million digital and voice interactions each day. Businesses willing to leverage the benefits of cloud have embraced Vocalcom could to boost their strategies.

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Aspect Workforce Management Cloud – a Boon for Contact Centers?

Trapeze artists have to do a fine balancing act; contact centers are no different, as they have to efficiently manage a huge workforce and cater to demanding customers. Aspect Software’s workforce management (WFM) cloud, which comes fully integrated with its omni-channel cloud contact center solution Zipwire, seems just the tool for this.

“Aspect’s WFM Cloud provides the perfect complement to Zipwire, our award-winning omni-channel Cloud contact center, and is certainly among the best if not the best workforce management pure-cloud platform on the market,” says John Amein, vice president product management, Aspect.

Anyone managing a contact center knows how difficult it is to manage staffing levels and employee skills to market demand. Customers expect quality service and staff availability; employees want job satisfaction and work-life balance while management demands efficient, profitable operations.

Having the right employees with the right skills is not enough. Agents resources have to be optimized fully without overages or shortfalls, employees have to be motivated to achieve operational excellence and deliver outstanding customer service.

The Aspect cloud delivers all this- enterprise-class workforce management with the added benefits of cloud delivery: scalability, lowest total cost of ownership and elimination of software and hardware.

Aspect’s WFMC has a simple, intuitive interface that Web users find simple to use. An easy-to use schedule editor with a self-service interface allows agents control their own scheduling needs, while agents and supervisors are fully engaged and highly productive. In addition, it offers central visibility into employee activities and accurate forecasting in all contact center environments – all of which add up to simplify the management of workforces across multiple sites and locations.

Thus, Aspect’s WFM cloud appears to be the panacea for contact center ills as it helps achieve cost efficiency and superior customer experiences. “Because the solution operates seamlessly in the Aspect Cloud and is fully integrated with our Zipwire contact center, customers enjoy fast deployment of the two core elements they need for customer engagement,” observed Amein.

Aspect’s WFM solution is stated to be the system of choice for many leading companies, several of whom have as many as 40,000 agents. It is believed to have helped the world’s most demanding contact centers seamlessly align their people, processes and touch points to deliver remarkable customer experience.

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Exostar Recognized as Specialist Member of BT for Life Sciences

a company offering cloud-based identity assurance products and business applications, has recently announced that it is now a Specialist Member of the BT for Life Sciences partner ecosystem.

The two companies have been working together to enable Exostar’s federated identity solutions to ensure life sciences organizations receive seamless, secure access to the BT for Life Sciences’ cloud compute platform. After receiving the Specialist Member status, Exostar has offered BT’s Life Sciences customers to take advantage of the virtual scientist’s workbench in the cloud using Exostar IAM solution as a secure access point.

Users also have the privilege to get entree to a robust, global collaboration environment just by connecting BT’s Workbench Informatics and other BT for Life Sciences solutions to the Exostar Life Sciences Identity Hub. All these are done without any comprise on the security.

The combination of BT for Life Sciences, the BT Cloud Compute platform, and Exostar’s Life Sciences Identity Hub aims to offer easy, rapid and safe access to existing solutions. It will also enable the future development of virtual ‘scientist workbenches’ custom-made to various disciplines such as Bioinformatics and Cheminformatics.

The common goal of both companies has been to let the scientist focus on the science and not have to worry about the complexities of secure information management, particularly in a cloud environment that crosses enterprise boundaries.

“BT for Life Sciences offers an extremely powerful suite of solutions that enable Life Sciences organizations to more productively conduct critical activities throughout the drug R&D process,” said Daniel Pfeifle, Exostar’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing.

Pfeifle further said that all these facilities are part of BT’s effort to increase “the potential utility of the tools exponentially by putting additional partner data, resources and applications in the hands of their customers.”

BT for Life Sciences has also launched solutions that provide scientists easy and effective access to the rich sources of information, based on its innovative cloud-based infrastructure. These are available today on a global basis.

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Speech-to-Text Self-Service with Cloud-based CRM Integration

Creative Virtual’s conversational platform V-Person enhances customer expereinces with advanced self-service.

LiveOps Enhances Ability to Improve Customer Experiences through Real-Time Visualization

Cloud Contact Center solutions provider LiveOps has announced the immediate availability of LiveOps Visual and LiveOps Visual Advantage, powered by Glance Networks, a provider of visual engagement solutions. As LiveOps notes, LiveOps Visual, a standalone co-browsing and screen-sharing solution, and the new LiveOps Visual Advantage, integrated with the Salesforce desktop, blend visual engagement with voice, chat and mobile capabilities for a true multi-channel customer experience.

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Perficient Showcases Oracle CX, Cloud Capabilities at Oracle OpenWorld 2014

Competition is so stiff that companies have to constantly re-strategize to even remain in the running- let alone getting an edge. Remaining connected to customers, understanding them and anticipating their needs is a large slice of the ever-evolving customer experience pie and Perficient is all set to showcase the much touted Oracle customer experience (CX) offerings at Oracle OpenWorld 2014.

The information technology and management consulting firm believes that understanding the drivers of a great customer experience is ‘key to realizing profitable growth.’ Oracle CX practice is stated to help clients understand the customer experience, perceptions and behaviors throughout the customer life cycle.

“Companies that prioritize the customer experience will generate more profits than their competitors,” observed Alfred Arnaud, general manager, Oracle CX practice at Perficient. Oracle CX utilizes Oracle’s complete, integrated cloud solutions. Implementing customer experience solutions via the cloud enhances speed, efficiency and effectiveness.

Perficient is an Oracle platinum partner and its broad spectrum of solutions and services span the Oracle portfolio.  It also partners with organizations to deliver modern customer experience strategies across leading technology platforms and providers and helps clients accelerate growth, solving complex challenges through the implementation of business-driven technology solutions.

Utilizing the Oracle planning and budgeting cloud service, it can help transform financial processes in a company; in addition it also leverages other key Oracle technology solutions that include CX, EPM, ERP, CRM and fusion middleware.

Further, it also provides migration strategies to the Oracle cloud business intelligence platform and has implemented Oracle WebCenter in the Amazon virtual private cloud, enabling clients to deliver their WebCenter-based Web applications.  Perficient delivers solutions for major industries like healthcare, financial services and retail.

According to Arnaud, Oracle has amplified the companies’ ability to best address rising customer demands, maintain a customer-centric mindset, and drive mutual economic value.

Perficient has thus continued to demonstrate an innovative approach to the cloud as well as other transformative technologies across industries, including mobile, business intelligence and user experience design.

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