We’ve featured LiveOps on the blog before, when I interviewed then CEO Maynard Webb for my Entrepreneur Journeys series. Now, the company has a new CEO, Marty Beard, and has gone through many other interesting changes over the years.
Sramana Mitra: Hi, Marty. We are speaking with LiveOps for a second time. I spoke with the previous CEO a little while ago. So, let’s start with some context.
Marty Beard: Sure. There are two parts to LiveOps’ business. There’s the agent outsourcing, virtualized workforce part, which Maynard did a fantastic job of growing. We also have the cloud applications part of the business, which is selling our customer service solutions directly to any call center or customer service organization looking for a cloud alternative to an on-premises solution. We are focused on the platform and cloud applications part of the business. We’ve been working hard to grow that aggressively and innovate our solutions in that space. That is the primary focus of the company at this point.
SM: So, this story is for the blog’s mobile and social series. Talk to me about the primary drivers you’re seeing in mobile and social.
MB: Everything that we do is completely focused on customer service. We spend all day thinking about how customer service is changing and how we can better serve our enterprise customers so that they can serve their end users and provide better service. So, everything I talk about will be within the context of customer service.
Mobile and, quite dramatically, social, are radically changing customer service. They’ve had a huge impact. They’ve forced what’s traditionally a voice-based call center where you have a lot of people sitting in cubicles in a building with headsets taking calls in a queue and resolving what they think they can resolve. That’s being blown apart by the influences of mobile and social. These two forces are changing the requirements of that customer service rep and what he needs to do to serve customers. They’ve had a huge impact.
SM: You use home-based agents, right?
MB: On the agent outsourcing side of LiveOps, yes, those are home-based agents. But what I’m talking about now is where LiveOps is selling its platform directly to end enterprises to manage their own agents, not the LiveOps agents.
SM: I see.
MB: Yes. The home-based agents part is the historical part of LiveOps and it’s the part that company spent many years growing. We’re still in that business. We’ve learned a lot managing 20,000 virtual agents in the cloud, but the emphasis of the company and the technology innovation and focus is heavily on selling our cloud applications to companies that have their own agents and are looking for technology solutions to manage their own agents.
SM: That space is extremely crowded.
MB: Not really. You’ve got some of the legacy on-premise vendors like Avaya and Genesis, but those are the ones that came in with heavy duty on-premise technology that’s fairly one dimensional. It’s optimized for voice. It’s expensive. It’s complicated. And you’ve got a bunch of cloud vendors like LiveOps and Interactive Intelligence, that have moved into the space to offer a hosted or cloud version of that but also to broaden the channels beyond voice.
For example, on the social end, one of the most important channels in customer service right now is Twitter. End users are using Twitter to request specific customer support needs. That’s had a big impact on customer support organizations and agents and the channels that they need to deal with. We’ve moved from an on-premise, traditional voice-oriented technology world into a multi-channel, two-way, more customer interactive environment. It’s not crowded. This space is wide open. There are a lot of exciting things happening.