Microsoft announced this morning a new agreement with 24/7 Inc. , a company that designs intuitive customer experiences. As a part of the deal, Microsoft will merge its interactive self-service assets (meaning people, clients and technologies), into 24/7 Inc. The deal also includes an R&D partnership, long-term IP licensing and Microsoft taking an equity stake in 24/7, Inc.
According to the companies, the purpose of the new partnership is to jointly bring the power of natural user interfaces and data analytics at cloud scale (Big Data) to enable the future of customer service businesses. Today’s customers are looking to interact with businesses through many channels – web, mobile, social media and even the living room TV – which is what’s encouraging this move.
24/7 Inc. is the maker of what it calls a “Predictive Experience (PX)” platform, which delivers customer experiences online and on mobile, and offers speech and live chat software. To do so, it leverages large-scale data analytics to try and predict what customers want in order to better serve them. The solution is then sold to businesses looking for a self-service voice response solution. Some of its current customers include Avis Budget Group, Ovum and United Airlines.
Going forward, 24/7 Inc. will use Microsoft’s TellMe speech and natural language technologies in its customer service solutions. Those solutions will also be integrated with Windows Phone, Bing and Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
You may remember TellMe, acquired for $800 million in 2007, as the technology that powers Windows Phone’s voice recognition, but it also powers Bing Voice Search for mobile, Xbox voice recognition in Kinect, Windows 7, Ford SYNC and KIA UVO, among other things.
According to All About Microsoft, some subset of the 400 or so TellMe employees are being shifted to 24/7, along with Microsoft’s IVR assets, but Microsoft would not disclose the exact number. The cloud speech service part of TellMe, however, will remain with Microsoft.
Terms of the deal and the size of the equity stake were not provided.