On Pocket Knives, Baristas and Passion

Patrick Barnard
Group Managing Editor, TMCnet

On Pocket Knives, Baristas and Passion

One of the things I noticed during Interactive Intelligence's Interactions '10 user's conference in Indianapolis last week is the high level of passion the company's employees have for its products.


At every session I attended - whether it was about the company's newly-updated communications-as-a-service (CaaS) offering; or its flagship platform, Customer Interaction Center (CIC); or its new business process automation product, Interaction Process Automation (IPA); or its hardware offerings (yes, Interactive makes hardware!), including its new Interaction SIP Station, the presenter was enthusiastic and, for lack of better term, "passionate."


During one session I attended -- I believe it was "AcroSoft Insurance User Focus" (AcroSoft, which Interactive Intelligence acquired last year, makes a content management system geared for insurance companies which is now integrated with the CIC platform) -- the attendees started discussing in detail how they were having occasional trouble carrying a particular operation (I think involving the transfer of data from one system to another) due to some integration issue - and the level of interest and helpful input from session presenter Chuck Wilson, who now heads up Interactive Intelligence's new Insurance Services Group, which is run out of AcroSoft's headquarters in Columbia, North Carolina, was phenomenal in that he really dug into the problem with his own questions and showed a genuine concern in wanting to get the issue resolved.


By the way this year's user's conference included a new Insurance track consisting of about eight sessions, most of which were focused on AcroSoft's solutions (which, to be honest I'm still not that familiar with). While I was able to easily follow along with the call center, customer self-service and "communications-side" of things during these sessions, there were times when they dove into back office side of insurance operations and I found myself a little bewildered. Let's just say it's a very process-driven industry with a lot of little rules and regulations on the way you have to do things -- which makes Interactive Intelligence's contact center, business process automation and insurance software ideal for this industry.


Anyway, back to the topic of passion. During the opening presentation of the conference, Interactive Intelligence founder, president and CEO Dr. Don Brown related a story about how one day a fellow employee in upper management wanted to speak with him about CIC, yet Brown said he was "too busy" and proceeded to go to a local Starbuck's for a cup of coffee.


The employee followed Brown to the Starbucks, stormed out of her car and confronted him in the parking lot. "This is what's so important?" she yelled at him. Upon which Brown took out his pocket knife, unfolded the blade, and told the employee, "there's a barista in there who's been talking smack about CIC ... and I was going to go in there and kill him." Naturally, the employee was rather taken aback. "Yeah, now who's the one who's passionate about CIC?" Brown said.


Of course, none of it ever really happened. Maybe the story was a little "over the top" but I think Brown made his point: Interactive Intelligence's employees possess an "over the top" attitude when it comes to the company's products - and it showed throughout the entire conference - both during the sessions and in between.


(FYI I'm posting this late because I've been completely buried ever since I returned. I plan to blog more about my experience at Interactions '10 so stay tuned...)




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