8x8 Acquires MarianaIQ To Inject AI Into Cloud UC, Contact Center Solutions


8x8 has acquired AI-powered marketing startup MarianaIQ to add new features powered by AI and machine learning to its cloud-based product portfolio.

Unified Communications as a Service and contact center provider 8x8 wants to give customers one system for employee communications and customer interactions. Adding AI to its new X Series, a platform that combines communications, collaboration and contact center solutions, will give businesses better insights into the data they are collecting every day from their own staff and end customers, the company said.

The two companies are not disclosing the financial terms of the deal.

[Related: 8x8 Touts 'Astronomical' Channel Growth; Partner Deals Increasing 50 Percent Year-Over-Year]

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8x8 has been focused on injecting data analytics into its communications platforms, something that customers desperately need as data piles up around how employees are interacting with customers, as well as with each other, and who may be trying to reach their company across voice, chat, and social media platforms, Bryan Martin, chairman and CTO of San Jose, Calif.-based 8x8, told CRN.

"There's a need to really harness what machine learning brings to the equation -- which is taking all this data, adding context to it, and distilling it down to key findings and trends," he said.

For partners, the acquisition will open up new big data opportunities for channel partners selling 8x8 solutions today, he said.

"Data is going to become the currency of IT," Martin said. "It's going to become the gold nugget that [partners] need to harness, and it's were partners can really add value because big data and machine learning is very confusing to a lot of their clients."

MarianaIQ (MIQ) will bolster 8x8's X Series by adding more context to customer interactions in the call center, even before an agent starts a conversation with a customer. Agents will have more details on a user, including previous interactions and history, thanks to MIQ's deep learning capabilities.

Call routing capabilities and speech analytics will also be improved following the acquisition, Martin said.

Today, 8x8’s speech analytics technology is powered by natural language processing technology. Improved speech analytics can help call center agents and inside sales better identify upsell or new sales opportunities, and escalate specific customers to managers, if need be.

In the collaboration space, 8x8 and MIQ will integrate their technologies into Google's collaboration portfolio, G-Suite, to give customers more context into their email, chat, and Google documents.

"Our vision is to [help customers] capture data from different sources, no matter where it comes in from," Martin said.

The entire MIQ team, including co-founders Soumyadeb Mitra and Venkat Nagaswamy who are leaders in the AI space will be joining 8x8. "I think the team will really strengthen the bench we have here at 8x8 around some of the work we're are doing on AI and machine learning," Martin said.

While the company has been developing its own technology, 8x8 said that acquisitions will remain a key part of its strategy to improve its cloud-based communications products. The company in 2017 acquired Sameroom for its interoperability platform. The technology is helping users today communicate across disparate enterprise-grade messaging platforms, including Slack and Stride.