Interactive Intelligence EMEA Partner Conference Wrap-up

No, this isn’t blog déjà vu all over again. Yes, I did blog about the Interactive Intelligence partner conference last week — but that was the APAC version. This post is about a very different EMEA version of the event.
March 1-3, the Interactive Intelligence partners from the EMEA region zeroed in on Berlin for an opening reception and two full days of conference sessions. The venue was cool — including the one million liter fish aquarium in the lobby of the hotel (actually has an elevator that runs up through the middle of it).
There was interest from the partners in all kinds of contact center and enterprise telephony products and technology. One that topped the list was the interest in SMS — huge interest in using SMS as a media type in the contact center as well as using it as part of the UC mix by sending SMS messages to change presence or query the status or presence of other users. The UK and Germany are the two biggest SMS using countries in the region and were all over "anything-SMS."
Another hot topic was communications-based process automation (CBPA) and the conference attendees got their fill. Interactive Intelligence CEO Don Brown talked about the value to businesses that choose to implement CBPA, and there was a live hands-on lab session of Interaction Process Automation (IPA) — Interactive Intelligence’s CBPA offering due out the middle of the year.
Johan Jacobs, an analyst from Gartner, was the keynote speaker. He spent most of his time in a well-presented general session talking about modernizing the contact center to support multichannel communications. Johan described the term "customer democracy" as giving the customer the choice of how to communicate with you. He emphasized the point that for contact centers (or "centres" as it is written here in good ol’ Europe) "life exists beyond the telephone." Johan admitted that his highest volume of calls are inquiries around how to reduce call volumes. A few very interesting statistics that he cited:
  1. On average, contact centers who implement web chat reduce their call volumes by 12%, but see an increase of 18% in total interactions, as the new media provides a channel for more prospective customers.
  2. 95% of contact centers that deploy a second channel or media type, deploy a third or fourth channel within 18 months. Cleary showing the value that they found in moving to multichannel.
  3. He said that one of the most important aspects of moving successfully to multichannel is providing service consistency across all channels.

Overall, a great conference. Sponsors included AudioCodes, Loquendo (who gave away 15,000 Euros worth of software), and Polycom. Berlin is a fascinating city with so much history. The partners seemed energized and actively selling. And for me, hopefully at some point my body will adjust from the time zone changes between Bangkok, Berlin, and my U.S. home…