It's tough to overstate the effect of mobility on the unified communications and contact centre markets, but contact centre specialist Interactive Intelligence is among vendors looking to tackle the opportunity head-on by bridging the traditional gap between self-service mobile applications and help from an agent.
Interactive on Monday launched a new platform, Interaction Mobiliser, that allows businesses to provide self-service applications to customers using everything from iPhones and Android devices to corporate Facebook credentials and tie those applications back into contact centers.
Mobiliser offers the ability to develop and deploy mobile apps in a device-independent format that can then be pushed out to the various mobile platforms and social media sites that Interactive Intelligence supports.
Among the many features, Mobiliser provides contextual information -- such as a customer's name and call history and, if enabled, GPS coordinates -- to assist contact centre agents as a pop-up on their screen.
Bridging that self-service/agent interaction gap is a bigger issue than it seems, said Brad Herrington, Interactive Intelligence's senior manager for solutions marketing. Most corporate mobile applications do little more than list an 800 number somewhere in the app interface for customers to call if they require further assistance.
In fact, nearly two-thirds of customers engaging in self-service via a mobile application end up needing more detailed assistance from a contact centre agent, according to data from Ventana Research.
Customers can also use Mobiliser to request call-backs from service representatives and receive updates as to when they can expect those call-backs. Future versions of the service will offer chat, text messaging and video, as well, Herrington said.
Customers can brand their own mobile applications using Mobiliser and then publish them in the applications store of their choice, or they can offer them through a corporate website.
"We're not trying to change the app store process," Herrington said. "We don't see the point of doing that."
Customers don't have to re-publish applications when updates needed -- Mobiliser handles that -- and they also have the ability to test changes to applications before they make them available.
Organisations can also use the software track mobile app usage as a form of analytics, and the platform further integrates with customer data systems such as those by Microsoft, Oracle and Salesforce.com.
Mobiliser for channel partners and more
Mobiliser will be available from Interactive directly, and from channel partners, in English-speaking countries by the end of the second quarter. It's intended for mid-size and large contact centre and enterprise customers, Herrington said. Pricing will be determined based on a customer's unique mobile application connections made per day.
It's an easy upsell for channel partners, Herrington said, who are already familiar with their prospects' customer interaction center (CIC) infrastructure.
"Really big IT organisations will have someone to do this type of thing for them, but many will want their channel partners to work with their CIC so they don't have to go figure it out for themselves," Herrington said.
Interactive Intelligence has built momentum in the contact centre channel, even though it flies somewhat under the radar relative to competitors like Cisco, Avaya and Genesys. The company recorded $US209.5 million in revenue for its fiscal 2011 and has more than 300 reseller partners around the world.