Interactive Intelligence lays out its call centre ambitions for 2014

Interactive Intelligence lays out its call centre ambitions for 2014

UC in the Cloud is revolutionising the call centre, moving businesses beyond the dialtone

Interactive Intelligence is reaping the benefits of the Cloud as its growth goes from strength to strength.

Interactive Intelligence provides unified business communications solutions for call centers, enterprise IP telephony, and business process automation. It is now expecting 2014's total order growth to be 20 per cent or more, up on the company’s better-than-expected 2013 order growth of 30 percent.

It anticipates that Cloud-based total order growth will represent 55 to 60 per cent of its total 2014 orders. The company has already had a solid 2013, with total revenues up 34 per cent to US$318.2 million.

Interactive Intelligence's global CMO , Joe Staples, said the company's growth has mostly been driven organically, rather than through a raft of acquisitions as most its key rivals have been.

The company's choice to 'go upmarket', has seen it pull in 142 contracts of between $250,000 and $1m in 2013, compared to just 23 in 2005. For deals over $1m, it has gone from just one client in 2005, to 49.

The market has rapidly shifted from hardware to software over that tenure, and is now rapidly shifting from voice over internet protocol (VoIP) to multimedia communications protocols, such as SIP, which incorporate video, and other media, such as images and presentations.

Cloud has driven this growth, and 50 per cent of Interactive Intelligence's new business is now based in the Cloud, as opposed to just 5 per cent in 2009. The company's New Zealand and Australian Cloud infrastructure is hosted by Equinix and NextDC, respectively.

Interactive Intelligence's vice president of APAC and Japan, Brendan Maree, said the company has far surpassed its expectations in the Australian market in 2013. He told ARN the initial revenue goal for the year was of 25 per cent growth, it reached 65 per cent.

A key focus for the company has been the Queensland and West Australian markets, where it has already picked up two to three new Brisbane customers (to be confirmed), and another two deals in Perth that will bring in $3.3m.

Read more: NextDC does a board refresh

In New Zealand, it has just pulled in a new contract with Gen-I, to follow up on its takeover of Amtel New Zealand, which brought in 24 new clients.

The company is also placing a focus on the local government sector, after 'walking away' from NSW and Queensland state government contracts which had become 'unworkable', Maree said.

It still has some major contracts, such as VicRoads in Victoria, however.

Maree said the company is looking to add another 12 staff over the next year, most in sales and project management, and wants to pull around 6-8 staff out of its graduate programmes.

As the customer service industry continues to digitalise itself, it is moving away from simple phone-based customer interaction, to social media, SMS, real time email, webchat and other online communications.

Staples said Gen-Y expect different types of service, and that Cloud means, in this industry as much as any other, that customer retention only comes from a superior customer experience.

It is this model that helped the company grow by 8-10 per cent during the Global Financial Crisis, when rivals were falling by 20 per cent, he said. Maree agreed.

"The call centre is no longer seen as just a cost to the business, its actually the front face of your business," he said.

Allan Swann is a Senior Editor at IDG Communications Australia. Follow Allan on Twitter @allanswann.

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