Seven Questions to Help Pick your Managed Service Provider

In previous blogs we have discussed two of this year’s surging trends cloud computing and self-diagnosing machine 2 machine communications from our white paper, Seven communications trends for 2013 . Let’s now turn our attention to Managed Services.

Many pressures face today’s CIO and IT departments. Disruptive technologies like the exploding number of mobile devices and video are impacting IT decisions. The need to support new functionality that maintains a corporate competitive advantage has out stripped IT’s ability to consume the technology complexity required to deliver the new functionality. We call this the Technology Adoption Gap. This technology gap is fueling IT’s need for Managed Services that can reduce the risk of deploying and supporting new as well as legacy solutions.

According to Gartner’s “Hunting and Harvesting in a Digital World: The 2013 CIO Agenda,” a global survey of more than 2,000 CIOs representing 36 industries in 41 countries, enterprises only realize an average of 43 percent of technology’s business potential from the more than $230 billion invested in CIO IT budgets. With investments and demands running so high, more is being demanded of CIOs. CIOs are turning to solution vendors for Managed Services to help them get more out of the investment they have and will make.

Adding more pressure, as stated in the white paper Communications services: Challenging the status quo by Avaya Senior Vice president and Avaya Client Services President Mike Runda, are tightening IT budgets that are forcing more out of existing IT staffs which are already under-staffed and overwhelmed.

This need for Managed Services is called out in the Seven communications trends white paper prepared by a panel of visionary Avaya experts as hitting an inflection point:

“Business conditions are changing at a breathtaking pace within most industries and, consequently, so are the requirements on organizations’ communications infrastructures. In this environment, having the flexibility to add, contract and change capabilities and leverage new technologies quickly and easily has become paramount. There is also growing interest among cost-conscious businesses in foregoing the expense of in-house staff to support their communications infrastructure, as well as the capital requirements of continually investing in new technologies. At the same time, business leaders want to focus their attention on the strategic needs, decisions and directions associated with their communications infrastructure rather than the operational requirements of running it. These shifts are leading businesses to think differently about their infrastructure strategy and examine the financial goals associated with their IT organization. Do they want their IT department to be responsible for the day-to-day operations of their communications technology with the accompanying high fixed costs? Or, do they want to adopt a utility model that enables them to add and contract communications resources as needed, whether using a service provider or an in-house, self-managed utility services approach? Such decisions will be front and center in 2013.”

What are CIOs and IT departments to do given these resource constraints and user demands? If Managed Services is the key it starts by selecting a service partner who understands the marketplace and appreciates the complexity of today’s systems which are typically cobbled together in a multivendor environment. “Almost every enterprise client we encounter has a complex multivendor environment, with equipment of all ages and often from different manufacturers. A great Managed Services provider will offer solutions with service level agreements covering the entire communications environment,” says Mike Runda in his Communications services white paper.

So, how should CIOs and IT departments take the first step to determine the right Managed Services partner for their business needs? They should ask themselves the following seven questions:

  • Will the proposed service partner support your business strategy now and in the future?
  • Do you trust them to have the necessary expertise and bandwidth to provide maintenance, deliver support services or assume Managed Services responsibilities?
  • Will they become trusted advisors that stay engaged and serve as an extension of your IT organization and business?
  • Do they provide a portfolio of offers that span the entire service continuum and have the necessary flexibility to ensure a smooth deployment of Managed Services?
  • What applications, diagnostics checks or analytic tools do they leverage to anticipate any problems or hidden issues?
  • Do they provide a single point of contact that can quickly swarm experts to resolve an issue in your network?
  • Do they really know you? Understand your solution?

What questions are key to you in deciding who should be providing critical IT support to your company?

Pat Patterson
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Smarter Cloud Networking is Here, and it Starts with Avaya

The rise of digital transformation, along with growing application and data center needs, has placed more security demands on enterprise networks than ever. So much so that half of CEOs believe their industry is going to become “substantially or unrecognizably transformed by digital.”

These dynamic changes are significant for IT managers, as they are responsible for expertly managing today’s increasingly complex networks. IT resources are entrusted with one critical job: find a way to securely and reliably deploy wired and wireless networks with complete control and visibility—anytime, anywhere.

This of course isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially for companies that lack the necessary IT resources or budget. In fact, “budget and resource constraints” was listed as one of eight top challenges cited by IT professionals in a global survey last year. The average company spent $400,000 on networking equipment in 2014—a number that increased by nearly 20% in 2015.

Here’s the good news: cloud managed networking has emerged as an affordable and efficient network management alternative for many companies. There are a large number of advantages to leveraging a managed cloud solution. First, the technology is easier to operate than an on-premises platform, accelerating time to deployment. The technology also requires virtually no in-house maintenance, which frees up internal teams to handle other high-priority tasks while drastically lowering the risk of manual, error-prone, on-premises deployment work. Perhaps best of all, managed cloud solutions enable businesses to optimize their expenses and reduce costs.

For IT managers, cloud networking translates into reduced day-to-day maintenance tasks (i.e., software upgrades, patches) and improved operational agility—all at a fraction of the cost of traditional solutions. Businesses understand these benefits; in fact, it’s expected that by 2020, 90% of IT industry growth will be fueled by third-party managed technologies.

There’s only one problem: cloud solutions of the past will never effectively meet today’s next-generation networking needs. Businesses require a managed cloud solution that explicitly addresses today’s core IT issues of reliability and security; a solution that enables them to not just survive, but thrive in today’s smart, digital world. That’s exactly why Avaya is announcing its all-new Cloud Networking Platform Solution.

Our advanced solution for large enterprises and medium-sized businesses is inherently built to address security and reliability head on, with a strong underlying focus on simplicity and ease of use. Here’s how businesses will uniquely benefit:

  • Deploy wired and wireless networks with minimal resources:

    Users can seamlessly centralize network management, visibility and control without the complexity of controller appliances or overlay management software. That means hardware (like switches and access points) that are installed on premises can be easily configured and managed in the cloud.

  • Add, change or modify network services on the fly

    : The agile nature of our solution allows IT managers to easily add, change or modify their network services via an easy-to-use dashboard, enabling them to meet their business needs as they inevitably grow and change. For example, zero-touch activation enables managers to automate software upgrades, patches and licenses in order to relieve maintenance burdens. The solution also boasts built-in guest and BYOD on-boarding.

  • Guarantee data isolation among cloud tenants with true multi-tenancy:

    This key security component of our solution guarantees that user traffic will always remain on your firewall-protected LAN. This way, cloud connectivity is only required for out of band management functionality. Meanwhile, standards-based encryption prevents visibility of communications between a customer site and the cloud.

  • Guarantee service availability with data center redundancy and data replication:

    Avaya’s solution helps ensure wireless access points act autonomously, even when the cloud connection is lost. Furthermore, the technology enables high availability by always processing traffic locally and providing security directly at the network edge in each access point.

As companies face insurmountable pressure to reduce IT resources and budgets, it’s clear that the market needs a smarter networking solution. Our new Cloud Networking Platform Solution allows businesses to enjoy the native benefits of the cloud that they have come to know and love, with the critical level of networking reliability and security they has been lacking—until now.

Learn more at our webinar “Debunking the Myths of Cloud Management” on October 26 at 10 am PST. Sign up now.

Service while you wait – eGain innovates to turn hold to gold

My first exposure to self-service IVR application development was back in the early 1990s. Over the years, I’ve participated in the evolution from simple menu-based interfaces (“Press 1 for sales, 2 for service…”), to full-blown natural-language interactions driven by intelligent, automated back-end capabilities (“Open the pod bay doors, Hal…”).

It’s still not perfect, and I find myself having to opt out and wait for a human agent more often than I care to. In fact, a study by Marchex released earlier this year estimated that I and my fellow Americans will be on hold in 2016 for more than 900 million hours. That’s a lot of wasted time.

So what do I end up doing? Mostly checking Facebook, responding to emails, and playing solitaire on my phone. Seems like my smartphone isn’t being used very smartly, and it’s certainly not making me happy when I’m sitting on hold and waiting for an available agent.

Since the launch of the Avaya Breeze™ Platform, we have been advocating the value of the Breeze platform to solve problems. Give us a use case (problem) and with Breeze, an innovative, scalable, secure solution can be developed in days to weeks. On hold time appears to be a major use case in need of an innovative solution.

In January, Forrester reported that 73% of customers say that valuing their time is the most important thing that companies can do to provide them with good customer service. So why make them waste time on hold (even if they are keeping up with their Instagram and Pintrest feeds) instead of actually helping them during that transition time from self-service to agent-assisted?

This is why I think eGain Corporation, one of our 2016 DevConnect Innovation Award winners, is onto something really big.

By creating the eGain Knowledge Snap-in for Avaya Breeze, Avaya customers can improve the overall experience and satisfaction of their own customers by making relevant information quickly available in a self-directed manner. In other words, eGain has innovated on Avaya a solution to the on hold problem.

How? By recognizing that an IVR user is calling with a smartphone, the Breeze-based workflow will work with eGain’s cloud-based knowledge base whenever the caller is queued between an IVR interaction and a contact center agent, presenting relevant content to the caller’s smartphone via SMS, based on the context of the information already collected via the IVR interactions, and allowing the user to self-select additional materials that are more visual in nature (such as basic repair-and-troubleshooting instructions, documents, or even video clips).

As a result, users can more often find their own answers before the agent becomes available. At a minimum, the customer will likely be better informed when talking to the agent, creating the opportunity for a shorter call overall.

Smartphone users have lots of ways to keep themselves busy while on hold. And while there is a certain enjoyable aspect to completing another level in whatever newest game you’ve loaded, nothing beats actually being productive when you have an issue you’re trying to solve. eGain’s Knowledge Snap-in and Avaya Breeze don’t just let end users mine for virtual coins in their spare time, they actually help turn those on-hold moments to gold for everyone.

Avaya Named a Leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure

Avaya is honored to be recognized as a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure worldwide. Avaya has been the only vendor having the distinction of being named a Leader for 16 consecutive years. Each year the research organization creates a market view of key players for business users, reflecting business goals, needs, and priorities.

Contact centers have gone beyond phone calls with customers now expecting to communicate on their terms via text, IM, email, chat or video. For the past 16 years Avaya has created seamless and highly personalized experiences, building brand loyalty for companies all around the world.

According to Deloitte, 85% of organizations view customer experience provided through contact centers as a competitive differentiator. Todays companies must remain relevant by creating a single interface to connect customers with the correct resource each time, supporting their preferences. Supervisors and managers need real-time performance information to adapt immediately to situations to ensure optimized customer experience.

Avaya has focused its efforts on creating next-generation contact center solutions, creating communication strategies enabling a continuous transition between channels during customer interactions.

Please visit Gartner’s page to read the full report and see how Avaya’s Contact Center infrastructure continues to deliver best-of-breed Contact Center applications. We look forward to continuing innovation and leading business communications for the digital age.