Interactive Intelligence Reframes Partner Program Around Cloud, Recurring Revenue Opportunities

Interactive Intelligence, a provider of unified communications and cloud-based contact center solutions, is rapidly growing its channel program thanks to its latest cloud offering and has no plans on slowing down.

The Indianapolis-based company knew it needed more avenues to recurring revenue to grow its partner base. The provider overhauled its channel program in December around its PureCloud contact center-as-a-service platform, which was launched in the fall of 2015.

The remodeled program has helped the provider gain 50 new partners during 2016. They're now driving between 35 and 38 percent of Interactive's business, according to its vice president of channels, Darren Gill.

[Related: Here's Who Made Gartner's 2016 Magic Quadrant For Unified Communications]

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Gill plans to recruit more than 30 new partners by the end of 2016 and continue to grow the provider's channel presence aggressively, he said.

Gill helped launch Interactive Intelligence's original partner program in 1997, giving partners access to premise-based contact center products. But the channel today has set its sights on services and the resulting recurring revenue opportunities. Interactive Intelligence is eager to help partners make the transition from large, one-time product sales to service-based selling, Gill said.

The PureCloud platform is the provider's next-generation offering for partners interested in getting into cloud sales. Interactive Intelligence wanted to use PureCloud to remodel its partner program and help these solution provider partners get their foot in the door with cloud.

PureCloud is a multi-tenant, enterprise-grade cloud solution that's based on a microservice architecture on top of Amazon Web Services. PureCloud comes in three options: PureCloud Collaborate for group chat, videoconferencing, and desktop sharing between co-workers; PureCloud Engage, a contact center offering; and PureCloud Communicate, an IP telephony service.

Interactive Intelligence handpicked a small number of partners from its original channel program that could help the provider sell and deliver PureCloud solutions through a new partner program launched during Q4 2015. In 2016, the provider rolled out the new PureCloud program out to its base of more than 400 partners globally, Gill said.

"We've seen a groundswell of interest from new partners around PureCloud, and we are re-energizing our existing partners," he said.

Adapt Telephony Services an Oak Brook, Ill.-based IT and telecommunications solution provider, is a long-term Interactive Intelligence partner that's transforming its business with cloud-based solutions. The provider has partnered with Interactive for 19 years, and has completed more than 1,000 implementations of the Interactive Intelligence Customer Interaction Center (CIC) contact center solution, according to Brian Holdampf, CEO of Adapt.

Adapt is currently selling CIC as both an on-premise offering as well as a cloud-based solution to clients interested in cloud, Holdampf said. He added that many of its clients are very eager to transition to PureCloud.

"Our customers are very excited to … stay with the manufacturer that has provided them great functionality and stability during the time they used CIC, especially for those clients of ours who have corporate initiatives to move all of their applications to the cloud," he said.

PureCloud is also presenting new revenue opportunities for Adapt, Holdampf said.

"The growth rate for cloud contact center solutions is on an amazingly fast track, and PureCloud addresses the needs of the market," he said.

Interactive Intelligence has more than 180 global partners currently getting trained, certified, and selling PureCloud to their end customers. The cloud-based contact center and collaboration offering is helping to grow the provider's channel program, but partners didn't just want to be relegated to the role of referral partner, Gill said.

"Partners like the idea of recurring revenue, but they don't want to hand the customer over to the vendor," he said.

To address this concern, Interactive Intelligence built its PureCloud partner program with a recurring monthly payout for the life of a contract, as well as the ability for partners to take advantage of Interactive Intelligence's' APIs.

"There are services revenue opportunities in terms of implementation services that the partner can assist with, as well as the ability for the partner to customize and tailor the service, and build unique integrations for their customers," Gill said.

Partners interested in PureCloud today can take advantage of the provider's online, self-paced training program at no charge. Online training programs include technical and sales training curricula, according to Interactive Intelligence.

"We now have 800 plus students around the globe that are enrolled in the training, so there's been a really great turnout," Gill said.