InsideSales Makes The Flip To A 'Platform Play' With Predictive Cloud

InsideSales, which for a decade has been honing its predictive analytics tools to drive more effective sales interactions, Tuesday made its machine learning algorithms and troves of contextual data available through a new cloud-based platform.

The software developer, which is backed by and Microsoft, introduced Predictive Cloud -- new capabilities that enterprise customers, software developers and solution providers can leverage to create unique analytics functionality.

"We started with smart, predictive sales tools. We're making this flip to where we're a platform play," InsideSales CEO Dave Elkington told CRN.

[Related: InsideSales Raises Another $60 Million, Placing Valuation Well North of $1 Billion]

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Predictive Cloud offers "a massive crowd-sourcing engine [that] accommodates the preferences of the buyer, not the seller," Elkington said.

Predictive Cloud comes to market in three modes, Mick Hollison, the company's chief marketing officer, told CRN.

There's an "as-a-service" offering that customers can use to deploy predictive apps for internal consumption and a platform that ISVs and other developers can leverage through an API to build their own services for resale, Hollison said.

InsideSales also will release its own suite of sales-acceleration applications that "consume information" from its Predictive Cloud, Hollison told CRN.

Predictive Cloud represents the culmination of a vision Elkington first started working on with his grad school thesis -- one that took years to fully implement.

Over the years, InsideSales has matured from a passive data-gathering platform to a predictive engine for finding correlations hidden within dizzying amounts of sales data. As the company compiled "high-definition data," it also developed its Neuralytics engine -- a machine learning algorithm to harvest insights from the interactions it tracked between sales agents and customers.

Today, 60,000 salespeople use the Neuralytics engine to facilitate the sales process, Elkington said. As they do that, "we're anonymizing and aggregating all of their data," he added.

"We've in the last 10 years aggregated roughly 120 million unique North American profiles. And more than 100 billion sales interactions. We're adding roughly 5 billion sales interactions a month at our current rate," Elkington said. "Every one of those makes the system from an ongoing basis more intelligent."

InsideSales looks at hundreds of parameters that veer from traditional sales data to gain contextual insights -- local weather, sports events, traffic, regional stock prices all get factored into the mix, Elkington said.

"For each one, there's hundreds, if not thousands, of contextual influencing data points tied to those sales interactions," the InsideSales founder told CRN. "That's trillions of contextual data points."

The software also validates 50 million to 60 million contacts every month so sales agents stay up to date on where their contacts are working and how to get in touch with them.

InsideSales is rolling out Predictive Cloud with a half-dozen companies that will use the platform to enhance their own products and internal services. Developers and enterprise customers can add new parameters and external data sources to be monitored and analyzed by the big data engine, Elkington said.

In its first 11 years in business, InsideSales followed a mostly direct sales approach. But since the Provo, Utah-based company made a huge splash at last year's Dreamforce conference, it's been signing new channel partners, from system integrators to resellers and distributors.

While Predictive Cloud is still in an early stage, "there's a play for expertise in leveraging our platform," Elkington said, especially for solution providers in the Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics ecosystems.

Bluewolf, a global Salesforce partner, is bringing the InsideSales technology to its customers, which are increasingly warming to the predictive sales methodology, Bluewolf's co-founder and CEO, Eric Berridge, told CRN.

"In the customer world, there's never enough information you can know about your customer. InsideSales is really taking advantage of that," Berridge said.

Predictive analytics allow Bluewolf to focus on real business outcomes for clients, he said.

"It creates an adoption cycle, it creates engagement with technology, enabling them to have an increasing number of successful moments with customers," Berridge said. "We can take a piece of technology like InsideSales and we can tie it to driving a specific metric in an organization."

The notion of using data science to predict customer behavior is becoming much more widely accepted, he said. For solution providers like Bluewolf, the technology is a boon for its business because of its stickiness once in the hands of customers.

"The big move that InsideSales has made over the course of the past several months is they've really taken the whole notion of being more than just an application and actually becoming a repository and an active piece of technology that’s going to help organizations make decisions, allocate resources to the right customers, right opportunities, right challenges that are ultimately going to affect business outcomes," Berridge told CRN.