Increased server costs, bandwidth and latency issues, and lack of scalability were hindering Interactive Intelligence from accommodating new global business.
Course Manager’s scalability allowed instructors to triple the number of remote classroom and web training offerings, while reducing setup time from two days to less than an hour. Elimination of travel and equipment shipping costs netted $3,000 in savings for each remote class delivery.
Interactive Intelligence is a global provider of contact center, unified communications, and business process automation software and services designed to improve the customer experience. Their IP business communications solutions, which can be deployed in the cloud or on-premise, unify every aspect of contact center and enterprise interactions for reduced costs, simplified management, and improved customer service.
Interactive Intelligence’s Challenge
Interactive Intelligence provides a variety of training options for their wide range of contact center and business software. But until a few years ago, the education department was struggling to accommodate the amount of business coming its way, and it needed to find new ways of remaining competitive in a changing economy.
With shipping and transportation costs increasing for customers, instructors, and physical hardware, reaching a wider and global audience was impossible. Bandwidth and latency issues restricted instructors to just twelve US students at a time per classroom environment, and the education department often found itself running at or over capacity.
Interactive Intelligence felt another pain point familiar to many in today’s software technology field. In order to scale its business, the company would need to purchase additional servers and manually provision each environment. The dramatic increase in capital and operational expenses to scale would be even more detrimental than the barriers to innovation.
Manager of Instruction Marianne Desjardins explained that her department wanted to expand their offerings, but they just couldn’t scale. “We had a need to reach more customers, but we couldn’t. We were limited by server capacity, manual setup time, and their physical location. It would take us, on average, two days of setup per class. There was a solid 16 hours of work just to get one class operational.“
When the mounting limitations of existing hardware began to impact the amount of business the company could service, Desjardins and her management team knew that an alternative approach to training was necessary. They had considered leveraging the cloud, but were unsure if it could offer the security and functionality they needed for their unique offerings.
There was an additional unique requirement that any potential solution would need to support. The company sells a telephone system for getting devices to work in remote environments, which is also used for remote training. Desjardins explained:
“Teaching a student that is anywhere that I am not, where the server is not, and trying to get the audio to pass through a remote connection was something we played with a lot, and we were unsure whether the cloud would support that.”
Another area that needed thorough examination and testing was providing oversight of the company’s certification course offerings. Being able to conduct a class remotely was beneficial, but there were concerns around how to monitor and enforce that students were taking courses without unfair assistance from their peers or materials that are not allowed during the examination.
We have a lot more flexibility. We have the ability of adding a student on demand; it’s a 30-second add in Course Manager, as opposed to a whole day of preparation, or saying, ‘No, this is our schedule and we have to stick to it,’ and then losing that revenue.
Marianne Desjardins, Manager of Instruction, Interactive Intelligence
With Course Manager, the education department was able to eliminate the time-consuming hassle, cost, and inefficiency of building out and shipping physical servers used for the company’s training classes, for an immediate cost savings of $3,000 or more per remote class delivery. Interactive Intelligence’s instructors were not only able to triple the number of remote classroom and web training offerings, they were able to reduce their setup time from two days to less than an hour. Changes to existing classrooms can now be made in seconds.
As for the need for oversight over the administration of certification-level exams, Course Manager enabled the elimination of costly, time-consuming, and potential bias that comes from instructors being required to manage exams on the last day of a class. This previous requirement made some exams not legally defensible.
While many competitors required students to travel to physical exam testing centers, Interactive Intelligence’s students were able to log in, access an environment, and take a proctored exam from wherever they were. These remote exams saved both the students and the company money on travel and shipping, and allowed for an even larger, and more flexible global footprint.
Course Manager’s impact on allowing the company to scale its business was realized on day one. From the immediate reduction in travel for instructors and students, along with the cost and lengthy wait times associated with the shipping of critical hardware, the cloud provided many advantages that Interactive Intelligence needed to remain competitive in their field.
Addition of Mobile, On-site Training
Mobile on-site training can now be held at a customer site in order to truly create an authentic classroom environment. It provides the ability to add quickly and remove students and manage the entire classroom. What used to require thousands of dollars in shipping costs and days of manual setup time can now be built in minutes.
Added Security with the Cloud
As security concerns in the cloud lessen each year with its wider usage by major enterprises around the globe, Interactive Intelligence found that the cloud provided them with more security than they’d had working with in-house, physical servers.
Since Course Manager doesn’t reside in Interactive Intelligence’s network, no one has to worry about unauthorized access to the company’s network or their equipment. Students can be sent an RDP link or URL where they access the cloud, not Interactive Intelligence. The company’s increased confidence in security have made their products even more flexible as they can be used by anyone, anytime, and from anywhere.