Do We Want To Video Conference In Front Of Our TVs?

Hey y’all! Pardon mah accent, but I just came back from three jam-packed days at the South by Southwest (SxSw) Interactive conference in Austin, Texas. I moderated a panel on enterprise mobile apps. As a bellwether of how hot enterprise mobility is there were more than 200 people in our standing-room-only session. 

(Plug alert: Avaya VP for Emerging Technologies and Innovation Chris McGugan will speak about how to use mobile apps for better collaboration at the CIO Summit in Palo Alto, Calif. on Tuesday March 12. If you want to get taste for McGugan’s ideas, check out his piece about the future of customer experience management. Now, back to SxSw.) 

I heard a bunch of interesting talks at SxSw, which is still going on and is expected to draw 30,000 people to the tech/interactive portion alone (the film and music festivals are even BIGGER). One was by the founder and CEO of Roku Inc., Anthony Wood. Now, I’m one of the 5 million users/fans of the Roku streaming media device, which I use with the TV my master bedroom. The $99 Roku 3 just came out and is the top-selling electronics item on right now. 

So I just had to come and listen. I covered most of my thoughts about Roku, which is wrestling whether to add YouTube videos to its already deep well of content even as it begins to compete heavily with it for video producers and bloggers, in my Business2Community blog. 

tv videoconf.jpg

Videoconferencing in front of the TV at home may look good, but mobile and PC forms are taking off faster, says Roku’s CEO.

One thing that I wanted to give more time to was Wood’s reaction to my question about whether Roku had any plans to add a videoconferencing app such as Skype. Roku is aggressively trying to add to its roster of apps and games (there are about 100 today, including Angry Birds). But despite numerous requests for Skype on Roku’s own user forum, Wood is dubious.

“We’ve had many discussions internally but always
decided not to do it,” he said. (Full disclosure: Avaya’s Flare Experience and Scopia Desktop and Mobile provide business-class personal video conferencing software on tablet, phone and laptop that
compete indirectly with Skype.)

Part of the issue is Roku’s lightweight hardware. Even with the Roku 3’s faster dual-core Cortex ARM-9 processor, it remains 300 times less powerful than a PC, Wood estimates (Roku’s efficient operating system is able to squeeze better performance out of the underpowered chips). That might make it difficult to support high-resolution two-way video communications.  

But Wood also cites that the failure of past TV-based
videoconferencing products as proof of lack of consumer demand, though, let’s be clear, only in front of the television.

In Wood’s opinion, personal and desktop videoconferencing is already
“very popular on phones and laptops.
I don’t think that people want to do
that in front of their TV.”

I think he’s right. When I watch TV, it’s usually from a far distance, in a dimly-lit room, snuggled up on the sofa or cozy in bed. Those are challenging conditions for a Webcam. And they also show how the TV remains a lean-back device for consuming media, not two-way interaction. Much better instead to use a tablet like an iPad to videoconference. Indeed, I bet a lot of you occasionally videoconference while sitting in FRONT of your TV using the tablet or smartphone as your second screen.

So I agree with Wood: TV-based video conferencing for consumers, even though it’s being embedded into Smart TVs, isn’t going to take off in a major way. It’s had many years and decades to do so, after all.

But other forms of personal and desktop video conferencing ARE fast on the rise, both on the consumer level but also in the business realms, as they provide a richer, almost-live experience that create connections and accelerate productivity. To learn more, ceck out the Video Collaboration section of the just-published Avaya Guide to Collaboration Trends e-book for articles by Radvision VPs Bob Romano and Moshe Machline, Forrester Research and myself.

Related Articles:

The Value of Enterprise Mobility—Spread the Love

In a recent blog, I mentioned my sister-in-law’s frustration at not being able to use her smart phone for work purposes and how many businesses are struggling with the mindset change required for real digital transformation. That’s not to say that there aren’t valid business concerns about bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and mobility generally. Failure to secure mobile telephony and collaboration can open enterprises to significant risks.

A good example of those concerns came up at a recent conference while talking to an Avaya customer about BYOD. The customer’s perspective was that companies should just let their employees use personal mobile devices, with no need for an enterprise-grade software client to tie the device to the company network, databases, apps or governance. (Enterprise grade in this context means having call logs, directories, presence capabilities and access to enterprise collaboration tools like video and web conferencing, no matter where or how you work, or on what.) The approach of not having such a software client would fulfill employees’ desire to use their own phones, as well as the familiar tools and apps on them, without the need for the comprehensive security required by an integrated BYOD strategy.

We explained that just an hour earlier another Avaya customer had approached with a concerning story:

The customer’s company allowed its salespeople to use their personal cell phones without connecting directly to the company network. The problem: when one sales person recently left the company, all of the intellectual property of the company (contacts, pipeline information) went with them. Our customer wanted to know how to solve for this.

Avaya enterprise-grade solutions for mobile devices directly address the concerns that customers and others often express: a significant amount of flexibility for employees, security and privacy for everyone involved, and a measure of control over processes, policies, and data. Avaya mobility solutions are open, so they are adaptable to different devices and platforms. They capture important information that can lead to faster, more informed decisions and, ultimately, better outcomes. In short, they enable companies to operate at the speed of their customers.

The point is consumers and employees today are increasingly mobile. Gartner predicts that 80% of key business processes will include exchange of real-time information involving mobile workers. Not being able to use employee-owned devices slows business down. So the business case for mobility solutions—the flexibility they offer customers and employees, the improved outcomes, and the support of intelligent business response and decision-making—points toward value that outweighs the risks. Enterprise-grade mobile communications solutions have reached a level of both maturity and sophistication that they can now meet the needs of all stakeholders in the employer/employee/consumer equation. Everyone can share the love.

How is your organization addressing mobility? I’d love to hear from you.

Also, be sure to check us out at GITEX Technology Week 2016 where we will showcase our latest innovations designed to enable companies to meet customer and employee expectations with true multi-touch communication capabilities.


Avaya and IAUG: Better Together at 2017’s Avaya ENGAGE Event

Victor Bohnert Victor Bohnert is the Executive Director of the International Avaya Users Group. He has nearly 20 years of experience in building and managing customer communities in the tech sector and has led several organizational turnarounds and mergers. Before joining IAUG, he was Executive Director of the International Nortel Networks Users Association, and helped guide three independent groups through the merger that resulted in IAUG.


The idea of collaboration is much more than a term used to describe the latest communication strategy. It describes the interdependencies of individuals or groups of individuals working together to achieve success … it means 1+1=3.

Collaboration is at the core of IAUG’s mission. We bring together our members in order to give them access to the collective knowledge and experience of the WHOLE Avaya ecosystem—customers, partners, and Avaya experts. This gives those that are active in our community a competitive advantage.

More than a mission, this is a strategy that permeates all that we do. To that end, I am excited about the recent alignment between IAUG’s flagship customer event, Avaya ENGAGEsm, and Avaya’s global corporate event strategy. IAUG has been working closely with Avaya over the past several months to increase the value of Avaya ENGAGE, but also extend the relevance of the event beyond just Avaya customers and partners.

Beginning in 2017, Avaya and IAUG will come together to host their first truly joint event. Avaya ENGAGE will still focus on driving value to Avaya customers and partners. But with other Avaya events coming together under the Avaya ENGAGE banner, customers, partners, analysts and other industry experts will have unparalleled access to industry knowledge and expertise—and of course more opportunities to network with each other.

Additionally, the event will be held in February, earlier in the year than past events—making Avaya ENGAGE 2017 not only one of the largest industry events, but one of the year’s first. Product releases and industry projections will help our members get a jump on the year.

This collaboration is more than an event. It signals the deepening relationship between IAUG and Avaya. Still separate organizations, but strategically aligned at all levels to ensure the greatest return.

Collaboration is just the process … Avaya ENGAGE is the outcome.

What is Happening in the Business Communications Space?

Over the past few weeks since joining Avaya, many people who know me—and others who don’t—have asked me two very specific questions:

  1. What is going on in business communications?
  2. Why did you join Avaya?

There are headlines galore about the current status and future of the business communications industry. It’s all been very interesting to watch. If I was merely an observer or if my knowledge of this space was limited to only what I read in the press, I might consider running far away from it all, as fast as possible. But this is business communications. It’s everywhere. We all communicate. There really is nowhere to run. Whether we like it or not, we will be communicating with one another until, well, forever.

I’ve been in and around this industry for more than 20 years. I’ve built applications, platforms, services of all kinds. These days my role is “the strategy guy.” We all have our niche—strategy is mine. For me, strategy is a function of and can be derived from cultural observation. Understand your culture and strategy emerges. This kind of anthropological approach is valuable. Once this insight is embraced, the information itself is the advantage. We can then begin to ask, with the possibility of knowing:

  • What direction the industry might be headed?
  • How can a company succeed?
  • Does it make sense to be a category killer or category creator?

These are among the questions I’m tasked with providing guidance on how best to answer.

What I Know for Sure

Business communications as an industry must evolve. How we got here is no accident. We’ve been innovating for this window of opportunity for years. All of the headlines happening now are expected because what this industry does matters. It affects everyone, every day, from Main Street to Wall Street and beyond. And a huge part of this evolution is the impact of today’s consumers who, armed with multiple smart devices, are operating like individual digital enterprises. They have embraced the Age of Intelligence and are in the business of themselves.

Following their customers’ lead, businesses are now learning that when you can think intelligently, you can think intelligently about information and technology, delivery and consumption of that information, about every industry, every type of consumer and so on. To paraphrase Tony Buzan, world-renowned expert on the brain, memory, speed reading, creativity and innovation: before now, while we have always been making tremendous progress as a society—Industrial Revolution, Era of Manufacturing, Space Age, Age of Information and Technology—we were not doing things intelligently. We were simply getting things done and advancing our capabilities. The technology, tools and skill sets needed were not evolved enough to create the cultural shift that is now happening with consumers, enterprises … the world.

A critical component in succeeding in this new age is the ability to manage how and why the enterprise, consumers and employees think. But then, once managed, how to urgently communicate the data from person to person, employee to consumer, employee to enterprise, consumer to enterprise, consumer to machine, machine to machine, etc., to drive action. Enabling this level of smart digital communications to drive action is not only the barrier of entry to succeeding in the Age of Intelligence, but it is finally possible.

Why Avaya Will Be THE Leader in the Age of Intelligence

When I joined the company, one of my first objectives was to meet as many people as possible. I needed to see the culture in action; see how Avaya’s own culture could impact the broader culture. What I found was nothing short of invigorating. Avaya’s culture has an innate understanding of communications and a deep desire to redefine what it means to have outstanding customer experiences. This is a company that has gone through tremendous change, yet it continues to innovate through insight and influence. It has the qualities required to impact technological and cultural shifts. This company with great history, incredible team, innovative technology and deep desire is now sitting on the cusp of new opportunity.

I would argue that Avaya’s competitors are still going through or have yet to go through this magnitude of change in order to participate in the evolution of the industry. I know many others in the communications marketplace; they are all smart people at smart companies. However, there is a difference. Avaya has the advantage of its own maturity as a company, looking to impact others while perfecting itself.

I see this as a critical lever in devising a market-winning perspective. Avaya knows what it knows and has a savvy that cannot be underestimated. It is a company already hard at work making a difference in the outcomes of its customers and their customers.

Haven’t we all known Avaya for years, just as we know many of its competitors? In my opinion, more than 300,000 Avaya customers worldwide—and many customers to come on the horizon—will continue to benefit from one of the finest communications companies ever.

And Now, Some Details

Here is what I uncovered and why I believe Avaya is the company to lead the evolution of the business communications industry.

Current Customer Sentiment about Avaya

According to an ongoing independent survey commissioned by Avaya and conducted by Walker, a customer intelligence consulting firm:

  • In FY16, 85% of Avaya customers agree that Avaya has an overall excellent reputation from company to portfolio. This percentage has increased since 2014.
  • In FY16, 82% of Avaya customers agree that Avaya is stable and secure, which has been consistent for the past two years.
  • Avaya’s Net Promoter Score of 59 is currently “Best in Class” which is in the 50% to 70% range with Apple and the Ritz Carton. Avaya is striving for the 70% range which is known as “World Class.” Most of Avaya’s competitors are in the 20% to 49% range.
  • More than 1,000 companies with 1.3 million users globally have chosen to upgrade to or purchase Avaya Aura® Platform release 7, the software-only contact center platform for companies evolving to a digital enterprise. Commitment to evolving to the digital enterprise with Avaya is strong and growing. With Avaya Aura comes access to Avaya Breeze, the single integrated application development platform that works in conjunction with any device or system, enabling enterprises and developers to build and deploy collaboration and customer engagement applications in hours to days versus weeks to months, without prior communication development skills.
  • With 4.5 million licenses on Breeze, Avaya customers have embraced the ability to access and develop their own apps quickly with Avaya software. According to the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Mobile App Development Platforms published in July 2015, eight months before Breeze was available: “Enterprises seeking a mobile development platform have expressed to Gartner a requirement for rapid mobile app development tools that can be used by less technical staff such as business analysts and process experts.”

Avaya’s Global Market Share by Solution

  • Avaya is #1 Contact Center/ACD worldwide with 34.4% global market share.
  • Avaya is #1 worldwide in Unified Messaging with 46.8% global market share.
  • Avaya is #1 worldwide in Small Medium Enterprise Telephony Systems with 23.1% global market share.
  • Avaya is #2 worldwide in Telephony Systems with 18.8% global market share.
  • Avaya is #1 worldwide in Voice Maintenance Services with 9.7% global market share.
  • Avaya is #1 worldwide in Interactive Voice Response with 21.6% global market share.
  • Avaya is #1 worldwide in Audio Conferencing with 29.9% global market share.
  • Avaya is #2 worldwide in Unified Communications with 21.4% global market share.

Avaya’s APAC Market Share by Solution Category

  • Avaya is #1 in Contact Center/ACD in APAC with 28.8% market share, which is more than 8 points ahead of #2 Huawei.
  • Avaya is #1 in Unified Messaging in APAC with 50.7% market share.
  • Avaya is #2 in Interactive Voice Response in APAC with 13.5% market share.
  • Avaya is #2 in Outbound Dialer in APAC with 17.1% market share.

Avaya’s Canada Market Share by Solution Category

  • Avaya is #1 in Contact Center/ACD in Canada with 41.0% market share, which is 6.5 points ahead of #2 Cisco.
  • Avaya is #1 in Unified Messaging in Canada with 45.3% market share, which is 28 points ahead of #2 Mitel.
  • Avaya is #1 in Small Medium Enterprise Telephony Systems in Canada with 31.6% market share, which is 6.6 points ahead of #2 Cisco.
  • Avaya is #1 in Telephony Systems in Canada with 30.7% market share.
  • Avaya is #2 in Voice Maintenance Services in Canada with 10.4% market share.

Avaya’s EMEA Market Share by Solution Category

  • Avaya is #1 in Contact Center/ACD in EMEA with 33.0% market share.
  • Avaya is #1 in Unified Messaging in EMEA with 41.4% market share.
  • Avaya is #1 in Interactive Voice Response in EMEA with 23.6% market share.
  • Avaya is #1 in Small Medium Enterprise Telephony Systems in EMEA with 15.1% market share.
  • Avaya is #2 in Telephony Systems in EMEA with 13.6% market share.

Avaya’s Latin America Market Share by Solution Category

  • Avaya is #1 in Contact Center/ACD in Latin America with 40.1% market share.
  • Avaya is #1 in Contact Center/Total in Latin America with 32% market share, which is 19 points ahead of #2 Genesys.
  • Avaya is #1 in Interactive Voice Response market share in Latin America with 51% market share.
  • Avaya is #1 in Unified Messaging in Latin America with 55.1% market share.
  • Avaya is #3 in Telephony Systems in Latin America with 18.3% market share.
  • Avaya is #2 in Small Medium Enterprise Telephony Systems in Latin America with 18.4% market share.

Avaya’s U.S. Market Share by Solution Category

  • Avaya is #1 in Contact Center/ACD in the U.S. with 37.4% market share, which is 14 points ahead of #2 Cisco.
  • Avaya is #1 in Unified Messaging in the U.S. with 40.8% market share, which is 20 points ahead of #2 Cisco.
  • Avaya is #1 in Voice Maintenance Services in the U.S. with 21.5% market share.
  • Avaya is #1 in Interactive Voice Response in the U.S. with 28.5% market share.
  • Avaya is #2 in Telephony Systems in the US with 20.1% market share.
  • Avaya is #2 in Small Medium Enterprise Telephony Systems in the US with 22.4% market share.


It’s a long list but an important one. Avaya’s customers like Avaya. They like Avaya’s influence in their business lives. They continue to do business with Avaya for too many reasons to list and this is why these numbers are so strong. This company, unlike any other in this space, has been anticipating, planning and innovating for the business communications industry evolution. It is ready to lead the way. I said it before and will say it again: what’s happening now in the industry is not a surprise to those who have vision, it’s an opportunity.