Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Interactions 2012, Day 1

Yesterday was the first full day of Interactions 2012 here in Indianapolis. I've been to a few of these before, and Interactive Intelligence keeps doing a great job as this event keeps getting bigger. It's now over 1,500 strong, so they've gone to a bigger venue, and there are a lot of people wandering around here with orange badges.
Anyhow, just wanted to pass on some quick thought and takeaways, along with a few photos. CMO Joe Staples set the tone early by talking about how the customer experience is this year's core theme and how it can become a "competitive weapon". That's certainly consistent with what I'm seeing these days and ININ seems to have a good handle on this. The company continues to grow on all fronts - revenues, profits, new customers, new countries, etc. They have cash in the bank and no debt, and are in great shape to make strategic acquisitions to fill out their portfolio.
I think most people would agree that the highlight so far was the keynote from Prof. Clayton Christensen, a noted Harvard professor and author, renowned for his views on disruption and innovation. In short, his view is that we buy products to do a specific job for us. For marketers to be successful, they need to focus not on the customer, but rather on ensuring their products do that job better than anyone else. Your odds of success are greater if you understand what that job is and build your product around that instead of trying to get into the heads of your customers. He used milkshakes as an example of how this works, and if you don't know how that one goes, drop me a line.
More specific to ININ, he outlined the trajectory of how markets evolve when new entrants come in at the bottom end and compete by finding ways to lower costs and drive out higher-priced rivals. We're certainly seeing that with cloud, and its potential to displace telephony altogether. He didn't explore that tangent, but was generally lukewarm about the virtues of the cloud - outsourcing - in the communications space. I think that made a few people nervous, but these comments came at the end of Q&A, and really needed more time to be parsed out for a more thoughtful conclusion.
Moving on, the rest of the day was filled with breakouts, all of which were pretty good. There's a rich agenda here, so there's something for everybody. You have to keep in mind that the program isn't built around analysts - we're just a drop in the bucket, and most of the content is geared to help partners sell ININ.
I particularly enjoyed the competitive landscape sesssions and hearing their thinking on how to position ININ against everyone else. No single vendor has all the answers for customers, and it's refreshing to hear a company be upfront about what they can and cannot do. I've commented before about the mid-West sensibilities that characterizes their culture, and I think it goes a long way in explaining their success. They won't blow you away here with flash and dazzle, but if you want to meet great people doing great things with IP technology, it doesn't get much better than this.

 Joe Staples - CMO/event MC

CEO Don Brown - now... and then

Clayton Christensen talking about innovation and disruption cycles

Lunchtime customer panel with analysts and consultants

A bit of fun after dinner - the 80's live - big hair, tight pants and all....

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