Interactive Intelligence Unveils Channel Changes, Cloud Track

Unified communications (UC) and contact center software provider Interactive Intelligence introduced a series of enhancements to its channel partner program, including a new cloud services track around its multi-tenant cloud offering PureCloud. The track is aimed at giving partners new recurring revenue opportunities.

The enhanced Global Partner Program, which includes about 400 partners, now has two divisions -- a systems integrator program and a telco/carrier program. The new divisions and additions to the program will help Interactive Intelligence diversify its channel ecosystem, said Darren Gill, the company's vice president of channels.

Added to the channel program is the PureCloud services track, a way solution providers can offer cloud services from Interactive Intelligence along with deployment services and support in a recurring revenue model. Through PureCloud, partners are given the resources to build customizations and integrations for their end customers, Gill said.

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"With [the cloud], we are defining this new market opportunity. We are offering our collaboration, UC and [contact center] solutions through PureCloud, and we want to expand our partner community and leverage partners to get that offering to market," he said.

But many VARs are struggling with how to future-proof their businesses and make the cloud work for them, Gill said. So Interactive Intelligence has enhanced its partner program with its PureCloud offering in mind.

"We wanted to put forward a business model that works well for the partner and our customers," he said.

The telco/carrier program is for agent partners and solution providers with telecom businesses. The program reinforces the strengths these partners have, such as offering deployment services and support, as well as support for PureCloud so these partners can take advantage of the revenue opportunities around cloud services. Until now, most Interactive Intelligence partners were selling the provider's premise-based contact center product.

Avtex, a Minneapolis-based solution provider and longtime Interactive intelligence platinum partner, is well-versed in cloud. Prior to PureCloud, the provider had been selling Interactive Intelligence's cloud-based contact center offering, CaaS, as well as Microsoft's Office 365.

Interactive Intelligence formerly billed end customers directly for CaaS and gave solution providers sales commissions, but that model is changing

"We have the ability to own that relationship," said George Demou, president and CEO of Avtex.

That's a very significant advantage for partners, said Bob Trainer, vice president of contact center solutions for Avtex. "As we move toward PureCloud, really owning that structuring and provisioning of services and support that we weren't able to from cradle to grave with CaaS is really remarkable to us," he said.

The systems integrator division is a formalized program for specialized systems integrators that can take on very large deployments, Accenture, for example, is one of the first partners of this program, Interactive's Gill said.

Interactive Intelligence is also giving partners free access to cloud training and certification. The curriculum covers technical and sales education.

"Cloud represents a major shift. On-premise offerings are mostly implementation-focused, compared to cloud services that are more about app development and customization services, so we are educating partners to help them make that transition, and also the transition to a recurring revenue model," Gill said.

Avtex is one partner that has already begun taking advantage of the training. "There are significant resources online for free from Interactive for PureCloud, and we have taken advantage of the bulk of it and will continue to do that going forward," Trainer said.

In addition to the new systems integrator and carrier divisions, Interactive Intelligence also will continue to offer its Alliance Program for vendors offering complementary solutions to Interactive's software. Today, these partners include Salesforce and Polycom, Gill said.

The provider is also continuing its Consultant Program for educating independent consulting firms that might recommend Interactive Intelligence on any product or services updates.