Rising Stock: A little Intelligence

Interactive Intelligence explains why it feels it has what it takes to take market share from its rivals like Cisco and Avaya

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Rising Stock: A little Intelligence HAQUE: Our rivals’ solutions cost more as they have to deal with expensive legacy systems.
By  Ben Furfie Published  September 20, 2010

As the man who represents telecoms services vendor Interactive Intelligence’s push into the Middle East, Shaheen Haque has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. However, he’s confident the company can take on established rivals such as Avaya and Cisco.

The offices of Interactive Intelligence stand on one of the upper floors of the Central Business Towers in Dubai Internet City. Out of the window stands the Palm Jumeirah and past it the Arabian Gulf. In the office, over 10 desks stand ready to push the company’s services, albeit standing empty for the time being. “We’re in the region for the long term,” remarks Shaheen Haque, Middle East Territory manager for the telecom software firm, gesturing at the empty desks.

Nobody can accuse the company of being over enthusiastic; rather the pace of expansion has been a slow and deliberate one. The company’s products also bear the marks of a deliberate expansion. “We’re developing almost everything ourselves. We try not to be reliant on third-party applications and hardware, because we feel that if it is developed by us, it can be more tightly integrated with our solution, and we can control everything about it.

“The main differentiator between our competitors and us is that our solution is 100% software based,” adds Haque.

Since being founded in 1994, the company has slowly continued refining its approach to the market. As the company’s CEO Donald Brown wistfully recalls, its approach to the market was vocally derided by the competition, only for those same competitors to find themselves “scrambling to stitch together multiple products…in an attempt to play catch up”.

Haque points to the company’s software-based solution as the reason why it hasn’t just been able to keep up with its much larger competitors, but stay one-step ahead.

“Unlike our rivals, who have to deal with expensive legacy systems, our product is far cheaper in relation. It means there is a far faster return on investment. Part of that is down to the fact that we’re not reliant on multiple servers, or boxes for each application area. What we tend to do in comparison to what Cisco or Avaya tend to have, is we have a lower number of servers required for implementation,” he claims.

Despite the quality of the product and the solid business plan backing it up, he is keenly aware that success in the Middle East depends on gaining customers and building its traction in the region.

“Our main strength in the region is in Turkey, however we have one or two customers interested in Saudi Arabia. We have a couple of options when it comes to expansion — either we can hire a datacentre and handle the rollout ourselves, or alternatively we can build up a network of partners and they can take the lead and build the datacentre for us. The key is flexibility: we want to make the best business decision for the region rather than forcing something that might have worked in the US or Europe to work.”

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