How can I trust you? CIOs are turning to this answer

Last week I had the opportunity to meet over 25 CIOs and key IT decision makers to discuss collaboration and mobility in the enterprise. It was an engaging meeting, with fluid conversation and open sharing about the collaboration experience across industries as diverse as banking, health care, trans-oceanic transportation, and even flavors and fragrances manufacturers, just to name a few.

Flying back to California, I was reflecting on what I really had learned from these experts.

We did discuss the rapid advancement of BYOD, the broad adoption of video and the many creative ways to use mobile apps to solve practical problems in the enterprise.

But what really struck me was that, underlying all of these cool solutions, there was a basic need: to trust each other. Without trust there is no collaboration, without collaboration there is no execution; and without execution there is no sustainable business.

But what does trust mean for a CIO?

When it comes to trust nothing beats a face to face dialogue. But in a globally connected world, with companies leveraging talent and labor rates in different countries while serving customers around the world, trust needs to be cultivated on a day to day basis. This requires video-enabled collaboration solutions to effectively span timezones and cultural differences. And it requires that these solutions run on the devices now used by everyone – PCs and mobile devices.

Real Life, In Real Time

One executive, Mark, shared that he allows his marketing team to work from home to avoid them a very wasteful commute time; this has increased their productivity and their morale since his marketing managers across the Bay feel trusted and empowered. Mark has deployed a video solution integrated with document sharing so that they can easily review marketing presentations and programs.

Another IT executive, Gene, is adopting mobile video so field technicians can actually show engineers what’s happening live, and making sure the installations are accurately performed. Aric said that one of video’s greatest benefits is simply enabling him to look someone in the eye when asking them for commitment. Whether discussing the forecast during their weekly sales commit calls or when reviewing a proposal with their customers, reading the body language significantly increases the reliability of communication.

As Forrester Research puts it, video “helps to put a face and mannerism to a name and voice, enabling remote and distributed teams to feel more connected and more committed to shared goals.”

That was echoed by Carson, who says video provides his team with a level of alignment you just can’t get over the phone. When his product management team reviews and passionately debates the specs for a new product proposal with their overseas R&D teams he knows that at the end of the video meeting all the participants have “bought” into the plan and they will carry it out as their own.

The Advantage Of Mobile

Patrick not only streamlined the claim process in his insurance company using video, but also increased the level of trust with his customers since their claims examiners can show the damage to a car with a live video feed to his supervisor directly from his iPad.

Dan talked about a “collaboration first, mobility second” approach, focusing on building a trust framework and streamlining processes to facilitate collaboration across teams. Anne, who works in the “safety and security first” realm of nuclear power plants, is also focused less on mobility and more on enabling collaboration with a high level of security. Such examples will grow quickly, as tablets outsell desktop PCs this year, according to IDC, and notebooks next year.

In some settings, video is making possible things that simply couldn’t happen before because of limited time or resources. For example, hospice nurses bring the doctor or family members to a patient’s bedside via video conference; a school contracts teachers from another county to teach remotely; and children are able to take a virtual field trip to NASA when a physical field trip is impractical due to lack of time, funding or other resources.

As I mentioned earlier, the type of video matters. A couple of people mentioned that their expensive video conference or telepresence rooms are gathering dust. Simple-to-use desktop video is picking up steam, but a complete solution needs to have rich video running on the device of the employee’s choice: from Android to iPad, iPhone, Mac, etc.

Practicing What We Preach

I had the opportunity to describe Avaya’s own internal use of video that has skyrocketed since the introduction of Scopia® since last summer. Within the first six months, more than 100,000 meetings had been held with Scopia, with over 310,000 attendees participating in point-to-point and multipoint video calls. This will only increase when we complete the worldwide roll-out of Scopia across our 15,000 employees.

We first started using Scopia during the due diligence process of acquiring Radvision. Because Radvision has such a globally dispersed organization with development locations in Israel, China, Italy and the US, it quickly became apparent how valuable Scopia was. It not only allowed very productive meetings without the need to travel, it also spanned timezones and cultural differences. As a result of this we decided to deploy Scopia across the company. Since then Scopia has literally changed how we collaborate in Avaya.

Why? Because the soft-client runs on all the most popular devices our employees use, it can be launched very quickly after a very easy download, it securely connects through the company firewall, and it provides a low-bandwidth high-quality of experience even over lossy Internet connections. The results? We now communicate with our customers and channel partners every day and conduct staff meetings and work groups over video, bringing team members from multiple locations together that had only known each other voices for many years.

The ironic thing about most collaboration technology today is that they sacrifice intimacy for speed. The miracle of video is that it gives us back the gift of sight. That’s why CIOs see video as a key way to strengthen trust, deepen collaboration and therefore accelerate execution in their business. That’s Business at Light Speed.

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IP Office Leads the Way: How Doubling Down in One Product Area Can Drive Best Practices

Just over a month ago, we released the latest version of Avaya IP Office, one of the most popular SMB/MM UC systems on the market today. Over the past year, we’ve doubled the number of partners who are offering IP Office as a cloud deployment and have now shipped more than half a million systems globally—but this kind of success didn’t come overnight.

We’ve evolved Avaya IP Office a long way over the years, growing the product from something geared towards the SMB space (typically 100 users and below) to something that can scale all the way up to the midmarket, serving up to 3,000 users. Adding this scale to the product was extremely important because as our customers and partners grow, we can now grow right along with them. It also opens up the potential market served by the product.

Evolving with Our Customers and Partners

At Avaya, we have two groups of people to keep happy—our end users and our channel partners—and both want to make long-term investments in a communications solution and trusted business partner. That’s why, instead of concentrating on multiple product lines, we’re focused on continually enhancing Avaya IP Office with new features and capabilities, such as the new release 10, which adds a number benefits for businesses in terms of security, resiliency and end-user experience.

Our partners are happy with this approach because their salespeople now only need to know one single product, making it easier to sell, manage and configure the technology for a wide range of businesses (anywhere from a 10-person to 3,000-person company). And our customers are thrilled because as they expand and evolve, they have a flexible, scalable communications solution that can still meet their every need.

Businesses can even expand the solution into a simple and robust multi-channel call center. With IP Office Contact Center or Avaya Contact Center Select, companies can integrate voice, e-mail, and web chat channels, and proactively manage the entire customer interaction lifecycle. They can start at their own pace with one channel such as voice, for example, and add other channels such as e-mail as business objectives evolve. In June, Avaya also announced a highly affordable, simple-to-deploy workforce optimization solution that enables a wide range of insights into the customer experience, allowing midsize businesses to create the most value through every customer interaction.

Providing Investment Protection

While many businesses are aware of cloud, not everyone wants it right now. Because Avaya IP Office is offered as a cloud, hybrid cloud, or premises based deployment, businesses can move to the cloud at a more measured pace—adding new features and capabilities from the cloud as they become available or needed, and leveraging the investment they have in a premises deployment.

For instance, a business could start with an IP Office solution today on premises, and then migrate to cloud or hybrid cloud in a year or even five years from now—and all the features and training they’ve given to employees will stay exactly the same because the end-user experience will be the same.

Providing further investment protection, Avaya even allows customers running on old Nortel technology to seamlessly move their user licenses to IP Office at minimal cost.

A Relentless Focus on Quality

Doubling down in one product area has also allowed Avaya to put a premium on quality. Today, Avaya’s Net Promoter Score (NPS)—a measure of the willingness of a customer to recommend a company’s products or services to others—hovers around 58, which is considered excellent in almost any industry. The Net Promoter Score for IP Office has been over 70 for the last several quarters.

This sky-high NPS is all the more impressive when you consider Avaya IP Office is for small 10-user customers and larger 3,000-user customers. This ability to meet high- and low-end needs is pretty unique in the industry, and is only achievable because of the company’s relentless focus on quality and features.

Always striving to understand the needs of our customers, we’re constantly adding new enhancements to IP Office. Leveraging much of the knowledge and experience we learned at the enterprise-level with Avaya Aura, we continue to add usability and resiliency to IP Office. In fact, the latest version of the platform features built-in signaling and media encryption for endpoints and UC clients, helping preserve privacy and data integrity. This increase in security is especially significant to the midmarket, where the number of attacks reported by midsize companies increased 64% between 2013 and 2014, according to the 2015 global survey report.

Beyond other pure cloud deployments, the latest version of IP Office also takes a unique approach to resilience, providing system failover cloud to cloud, cloud to premises, premises to cloud, and premises to premises, keeping your system active and users connected through any outage.

Moving forward, we’ll continue to add enhancements to Avaya IP Office, relentlessly driving quality and features for our growing list of customers and partners.

Heads in the Cloud: Digital Natives and Unified Communications

Millennial—a four-syllable word that may as well be a four-letter one. Millennials are polarizing, and everyone seems to have an opinion about Gen Y, especially when it comes to the workplace.

For many 20- and 30-somethings in the workforce, an unfortunate reality is a stigma around their generation—a disdain for their unwillingness to cope with the status quo of conventional workplace policies. But with that comes the realization that the guard has changed, and they now make up a majority of the workforce, driving the future of their chosen industries.

Young workers are driving a paradigm shift in the working world, putting a greater emphasis on work-life balance and striving for career advancement, with an unprecedented willingness to jump ship from a current position to find something that better suits their needs and goals. Companies need to be able to court and retain the best of the digital native generation, making adjustments to suit the employees of the future.

As a proud member of Gen Y, I can say that the technology and services available in the workplace are some of the most important factors to me, and I’m not alone. I’m part of a contingent of employees that have more than just our heads in the cloud and having access to our work anywhere and everywhere is vital. In a survey conducted by, 84% of Gen Y-ers polled said they would prefer to work remotely full time. While that may not be realistic in every situation, there’s no doubt that the workplace is becoming more mobile, and productivity is not limited to a desk in an office building. Cloud-enabled unified communications and collaboration tools are the new wave, and something that Avaya excels at.

It’s for this reason that I’m happy—even proud—to work for Avaya. They see the way technology in the workplace is moving, and continue to make it easier for companies to go through digital transformations, moving smoothly into the future. And I, like many Avayans, can speak to the quality of our products and solutions first hand.

I use Avaya solutions just about every day of my life to collaborate and get my work done, from wherever and whenever I need to. I’m still amazed at how fluidly and effortlessly I can communicate with colleagues from around the world, from any device. While it’s nice to disconnect from the working world temporarily, it’s also immensely comforting to know that through Avaya technology, I can be face to face with anyone I need to talk to in a matter of minutes.

Effective communication is important in our mobile world. My generation of digital natives comes predisposed to being connected with one another effortlessly and near constantly. Having the right unified communications technology in place to facilitate fully formed and engaging collaboration experiences is vital, and something that Avaya can do for a business of any size in any industry.

This generation of employees does not want work to be easy; rather we want it to be easier to get work done. Having technology in place that allows people to maintain flexibility in their lives while still producing quality work is a necessary step for any business that wants to retain young talent and maximize results.

Avaya and IAUG: Coming Together for a Better User Group Experience

Marilyn ShuckMarilyn Shuck serves as a Director on the IAUG Board, president of the Puget Sound Avaya Users Group, and as a UC Engineer at the University of Washington.



The combination of the Avaya Technology Forum (ATF) and the International Avaya Users Group (IAUG) flagship event, Avaya ENGAGE, is generating a lot of buzz. As IAUG members, it’s exciting for us because we’ll be there as Avaya is announcing new products and have better access to Avaya. We’re also looking forward to bringing in more technical expertise, session choice, and potential new members to IAUG.

In the past, ATF was held in February or March, and Avaya ENGAGE was in June. By the time we assembled for Avaya ENGAGE, new product lines would have been out for several months. Now, we’ll get to hear the latest announcements. Since we’re partnering with Avaya, we’ll have much more access to them, getting our questions answered, getting trained, and seeing the new products in action.

We’re also able to offer so many more sessions, some with more technical expertise. ATF has historically been a technical conference, and our IAUG attendees will have a choice of breakout sessions that will add a new dimension to the education they’ll already be receiving.

It also makes sense to hold both of these events under one umbrella. There’s some overlap between ATF attendees and Avaya ENGAGE attendees, and in organizations where travel budgets are tight or where the same person is a technical support specialist and a user, you no longer have to choose which event to attend.

Additionally, we’re excited about the possibility of introducing new members to IAUG. Some ATF attendees may not have known about our existence, but now not only will they have the chance to learn more about us but they can network with us. We can continue to share learning opportunities and even bring a whole new quality of technical users to IAUG.

Make no mistake, the foundation of the event has not changed. This is still planned with the Avaya customer in mind. However, it signals our deepening relationship by aligning all customer events.

This is going to be one of those cases where what happens in Las Vegas won’t stay in Vegas. Avaya and IAUG are aligning, and it’s going to provide valuable education and opportunities for customers, IAUG members, partners, and Avaya. The benefits of attending will resonate throughout your organization, so plan to join us in February to learn, network, and return full of ways to make the most of your Avaya implementations. You can learn more at