Redefining the future of cloud communications
Business View Magazine interviews Steve Norris, VP Business Development at BluIP, Inc., for our focus on Top Technology Companies in North America.
The world is full of dreamers and brilliant innovators who are said to “have their head in the clouds” – a fitting analogy for the extraordinary tech team at BluIP, whose vision and purpose is focused on redefining the future of cloud communications. A Tier1 provider, BluIP Inc. utilizes a strong development culture and integration capabilities to deliver solutions and support to customers; catering to everything from basic needs to the most complex requirements.
BluIP provides best in class service, software, and technology, bridging the communications divide between Hotel Room, Desk, and Deskless workers in verticals such as Hospitality, where they support many hotel brands, including Hilton, Marriott, Four Seasons, IHG, and RLHC. The company’s cloud solutions portfolio includes Hosted PBX with PMS Integration, SIP Trunking, E911, Contact Centers, and Mobile Applications such as BeHive with advanced Push to Talk, Staff Alerting, and Common Operating Platform (COP) for emergency response and coordination. Another prime offering is cloud based AI Conversational Virtual Agents and Operators that industries such as hospitality are leveraging to reduce cost and improve the customer experience through automation, consistent messaging, 24/7 coverage, and adaptive multi-channel communications engagement.
Armen Martirosyan, current CEO of BluIP, co-founded the company in 2010 with a core team and a mission to break from the pack and not do what so many others in the sector were doing. VP of Business Development, Steve Norris, explains, “The key focus and the genesis of BluIP was that it was going to go after verticals; find partners to take it into those verticals, as well as go direct – something others weren’t doing. Primarily, we’re a cloud communications company. We have about four or five applications that we take to market through various channels to various verticals. For hosted PBX, with Microsoft Teams coming out, we built an overlay application that helps turbocharge that environment and helps Microsoft Teams replace large enterprise PBX and Contact Centers. Today, we’re half distributed by channels – we have about 110 resellers and agents out there reselling our products, some under their own labels. And we do about 40 percent direct. We go after verticals including hospitality, healthcare, education, large enterprise, and distributed nationwide enterprise. We provide E911 support, the number porting, Network Connectivity (4G LTE Backup & SDWAN), and can provide the 800, long distance service. So we’re a one-stop shop for reseller and direct customers.”
As part of its function as a software company, BluIP builds integrations and software products like BeHive (a mobile staff communications application) that are integrated in with BluIP Contact centers, hosted PBX, SIP trunking, and AI conversational platforms that the company deploys. According to Norris, “In Red Lion, we’ve just deployed a 1460 Hotel AI conversational platform that allows for reservations support, FAQ conversation on the hotels, and collects a lot of customer integration data for business analysis and training. The problem we’re solving is that there are a lot of reservation systems you have to buy, a lot of front desk staff you have to hire. So, if you can offload the amount of effort going to a live agent by 20 or 30 percent, that really starts to add up fast. Think about training costs and churn – there is a lot of cost in running these front desk and help centers.”
In a recent announcement, BluIP touted the launch of the first customer utilizing Artificial Intelligence Virtual Agent, RLH Corp. “The AI virtual agent offers a more seamless experience for travelers and an opportunity to generate greater revenue for hotel owners,” says Martirosyan. “Not only do the owners appreciate that aspect of it, but hotel guests are having real and unique conversations with the AI. This experience has taught us that if you can tailor a system to your guests based on how they use your products, the adoptions are much higher.”
AI conversational platforms are changing the industry in a myriad of ways. Norris reports, “We’ve been building interactive voice response (IVR) systems for years. That’s where people call in and hear ‘press or say 1 for this’ – which works for simple task. The challenge is that IVRs are tree oriented, but now with our AI conversational platforms, we’re able to deploy natural multi-channel (Voice, SMS, Chat) conversational solutions. For a lot of hotels and businesses, reducing the number of live call center agents is a big thing. We used to sell a lot of live agent call center solutions, now we’re seeing AI Virtual Agent augmenting Contact Centerteam. You still need live agents, but the number is decreasing because of the AI conversational platform. In a sense, we are killing off one side our Contact Center business, but the cost benefit that our AI Virtual Agent brings our clients makes it a win-win.
It’s true. Consumers often get frustrated talking to a virtual agent because it’s not as straightforward as communicating with a live person. Being at the beginning stages of the AI conversational platform and services, BluIP is well aware of those concerns. “We’ve been eyeballing it for about eight years and it wasn’t until about 18 months ago that we thought it was ready,” says Martirosyan. “Before that, we were putting in IVRs, which many customers find very robotic and hard to get out of the ‘tree’ or chain of questions you’re in. They did their job, but with our AI conversational Virtual Agent, it’s easier to respond to the caller’s intent, automate the request, and pass relevant call interaction information to the Live Contact Center agent if necessary.” BluIP is currently handling about 40 to 50 percent of the calls that come into the Contact Center and Hotels; they’re adding additional project phases to boost that to 55to 65 percent.
While half of the company is concerned with software development integration and building products, the other half is running the cloud-based telecommunication service provider side. With this dual capability, BluIP is able to rapidly add the intelligent integrations its customers require or create new products and capabilities when it learns that certain verticals are missing. This level of higher sophistication in terms of what the company offers clients sets BluIP apart from the competition. Added to that is customization for the vertical or the needs. Marriott needs are very different from Hyatt, which are very different from Hilton or Enterprise verticals. “So knowing those differences and aligning our offerings to the vertical nuances is extremely important to us,” says Norris.
Speaking to what the future looks like for the industry and BluIP, Martirosyan reflects, “We look forward to 5G; we kind of ride on top of it, so we’ll be able to do different data services. Every system we install, now, we put a 4G backup with it. Then if the internet goes down or fails, it goes over to the 4G – for 911 emergency services, we have to do this to have a wireless backup. 5G is going to help with that. Right now, we’re in the acquisition growth stage. Our customers come to us from time to time and want us to buy their base of business, and sometimes they just want us to buy the company outright. BluIP is a very forward-leading company and vertical-oriented. We look at the technologies, we look at the trends, and we try to add cloud solutions to our portfolio that our customers are going to need. And that’s benefited us quite a bit in our evolution. And then we go back and fill it in with channels that can support it.”
BluIP’s cloud-based solutions are in demand for good reason. With an ever-growing catalog of features, outstanding customer support, and a rock-solid network, it’s no surprise that more and more people are upgrading their communications to be Powered by BluIP.
AT A GLANCE
Who: BluIP, Inc
What: Cloud-based communications solutions provider
Where: Headquarters in Las Vegas, Nevada