A new cloud-based analytics and communications provider hit the streets running this quarter, led by a former senior executive at Cisco whose vision is to reimagine and change the customer communications journey and improve the relationship between customers and brands.
Barry O'Sullivan, former senior Cisco communications executive, is co-founder and CEO of Altocloud. The company, with offices in Mountain View, Calif., and Galway, Ireland, just announced a development partnership with marketing software provider Marketo and a services partnership with Touchbase, a global unified communications and contact center integrator.
CMSWire caught up with O'Sullivan for some questions and answers.
Looking back at your Cisco experience, what are you proud of and what are you carrying over into this latest professional venture?
I'm most proud of leading a team that never gave up. At Cisco, we started from nowhere in enterprise communications. We knew that we could save customers millions of dollars by moving their voice and video communications onto their data networks. People wrote us off. We predicted voice calls would be free: people laughed at us. We kept going. We kept innovating.
Things were very slow at the start. It took us three years to ship our first million IP phones. Today Cisco is the clear No. 1 in the market and ships 2 million phones every month. I am a stubborn Irishman. We were relentless and would not quit until we won.
I bring to Altocloud a rich understanding of the space and category needs, and the required relationships needed to build this into a player in this industry. And from my work as an adviser to start-ups and entrepreneurs, I understand what is needed to get a new tech idea up and running, accelerate growth and thrive alongside big, established players. Plus I’m still that stubborn Irishman who can thrive in any environment and live with a passion for the journey.
What pain points do contact centers have today?
For me, customer contact and communications is the last big broken area of user experience that needs to be fixed. Today’s approach of stove-piping customer contact into silos (customer support, service, pre-sales and marketing) and shifting customer contact to a self-service model is broken and dead.
Today, a typical customer interaction starts on web and transitions to phone, where there is a disjointed “start-stop-start again” process where agents have very limited context or tools transferred to them to help the customer. It is extremely frustrating for customers and agents, and much more expensive for organizations who pay for longer sessions, multiple contacts and escalations to resolve or complete a contact session.
Companies are spending billions of dollars to improve customer satisfaction, and yet research shows customers are unhappier than ever before. Companies are also spending billions gathering and tracking customer data from mobile and web sources. Data collection and analysis are disconnected from the customer contact points. No one has brought this information together to make it useful to improve the customer contact experience.
What makes your company unique in trying to solve these pain points?
We are on a mission to make customer contact more human, delivering personalized experiences, smarter interactions, faster resolution and more satisfied customers to every business. Altocloud is bringing together a talented team of technologists, business development and data analysts that can champion the customer experience. Our team is experienced in the world of today's most sophisticated and complex technologies, and are developing a contextual communications and predictive analytic platform that can integrate in with those systems and make the customer journey better, smarter with faster resolution.
We now have the capabilities to bring today's investments in mobile and web data infrastructures together with rich data analytics, contextual communication and customer-assisted interaction to create an integrated seamless customer-company-agent exchange, that can tap into live agent support and collaborative screen sharing when needed, without dropping the call.
How many employees do you have?
We have 13 full-time people combined in Mountain View and Galway.
What other areas will your company be focusing on?
We will be focusing on customer support, service and pre-sales customer contact and marketing. Companies that have complex problems and support calls; have high-value customers who need special handling during the call process; companies, such as technical, financial and health, with services that require hands-on service and companies who can't afford to service them all with live agent-only support.