Interactive Intelligence opens the playing field with its app store, MarketPlace
In December 2012 Interactive Intelligence will launch its first global app store, Interactive Intelligence MarketPlace. The online store will be a portal for third-party developers, resellers, systems integrators, and Interactive Intelligence itself to sell complementary applications for the vendorâ€™s IP communications software suite, Customer Interaction Center (CIC). Customers will gain access to a broader range of applications to help enhance and customize their communications suites, while developers will be able to resell their applications to a new, larger customer base. The store may take a while to gain momentum, as Interactive Intelligence must evaluate, test, and approve all potential products before they go online. The store will also rely on uptake and support from both customers and partners if it is to be successful. However, MarketPlace has the potential to drive innovation among application developers in the contact center and enterprise space, and sets Interactive apart from its direct competitors.
Interactive Intelligence MarketPlace will provide customers with a broader range of products and customization tools
At the time of writing, Interactive has 36 products available on MarketPlace, and it expects this number to grow substantially over the next few months. Applications will include process templates, custom reports, dashboards, and industry-specific IVR menus, and will range in price from $0 to $25,000, depending on their complexity. Pricing details will be available once customers log in to the portal. Interactive customers will be able to view and deploy a broad range of tools, including some that may not be currently available through their existing sales channels. However, they will likely still work with their existing sales partners to integrate any new application.
Customers will be encouraged to rate and review applications on MarketPlace, in a manner similar to existing app stores and retail sites. This will help new customers to match their needs to applications, while ensuring that quality remains high. The more comments and ratings the app store can get the better; customers are more likely to trust a range of reviews, and Interactive should encourage feedback. Both Interactive and its partners should use commentary to proactively design and adapt their solutions to customer needs. Developers ideally want to sell as many applications as possible, and should therefore use negative feedback to make positive changes to their tools. Interactive also has the opportunity to link discussions and promote relevant applications within its existing customer forums, creating a social marketing and support channel.
Interactive Intelligence MarketPlace will encourage healthy competition and innovation among developers
Developers will have the opportunity to sell their existing applications to Interactiveâ€™s 4,500 global customers, providing a new revenue channel. Many resellers have already created applications specifically for their own customers; they will be able to showcase these on MarketPlace, and thereby reach more potential users than was previously possible. Developers and partners should also view the store as a route to market and a test zone for new applications. Interactive will monitor the tools and ensure there are no competing products on the store, but developers will have the opportunity to design and innovate for their new-found customer channel.
Visibility of pricing and slow uptake may hinder progress
MarketPlace encourages pricing visibility and faster deployment of applications. However, contact centers in particular are often complex, and many of the applications will require additional services and integration that are not accounted for in the online pricing. Interactive needs to work with partners to provide estimates for deployment time and additional service fees for each application on the site. It is unlikely that customers will buy some of the more expensive products outright without requiring support from their sales partner, and this could slow purchasing decisions. International tax laws also pose a challenge for Interactiveâ€™s customers, who will need to calculate post-sales tax depending on the location of the seller in relation to them.
Interactive must test each product before it reaches the store, ensuring the applications provide value to its customers and fit with the companyâ€™s core aims. As a result, the number of applications available will initially be limited, and progress could be slow. The store will also rely on uptake from developers and customers, and Interactive must work hard to educate both parties and encourage adoption. It also needs to manage expectations and relationships between customers and their partners.
In the current price-sensitive market, customers are seeking rapid deployment options, cost visibility, and pre-packaged toolsets. Although Interactiveâ€™s larger competitors are unlikely to create similar solutions in the near term, they will be able to view developments on MarketPlace. Competitors can potentially use the store and customer feedback to get ideas about adding new features and functionality. Despite these challenges, Ovum believes that Interactive Intelligence MarketPlace could change the way in which business communications applications are bought and sold.
Aphrodite Brinsmead, Senior Analyst, Customer Experience & Interaction
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