Five For Friday: The Most Collaborative Moments from Star Trek

William Shatner may seem like an odd choice of a keynote speaker for the Content Marketing World conference in Cleveland where I was this week, presenting on Avaya’s editorial and social media strategy (and also taking a small victory lap).
But then consider how the 82-year-old has continually re-invented himself from his iconic role as Captain James T. Kirk – cop TJ Hooker, lawyer Denny Crane, Priceline pitchman, video blogger, Broadway actor, documentary filmmaker, sci-fi novelist, autobiography writer…the list is endless. Shatner is a supreme self-promoter. But he has plenty to talk about – the guy is BUSY.
I got to ask Shatner a question after his hilarious speech – there’s me below, asking him whether he thought Star Trek was marketed better or worse than Star Wars (his answer – “Star Trek wasn’t marketed at all” was meant to be politically-sensitive but rang untrue to me) and also sharing that my son is named Tiberius
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Shatner’s Kirk is often viewed as a throwback Alpha Male, the kind who bosses around the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise while disregarding his own bosses (locking lips with every green-skinned alien female from here to Alpha Centauri would seem to be a GROSS violation of the Prime Directive). 
That’s an oversimplification. Think of how reliant he was upon the advice of the uber-logical Spock and the uber-humane McCoy. This collaborative mindset was even more pronounced with the other Captains and in later movies. Here’s the collaborative moments that stood out for me.
5. That one where Kirk and the Klingons yuk it up together like bros
In the original series episode, “Day of the Dove,” an alien life force stokes a battle between Kirk and his crew and a bunch of Klingons – admittedly, not a hard thing to do – in order to feed on the resulting psychic energy of hatred. It even magically replaces all of the crew’s phasers with swords and knives. En garde!
 
Spock and Kirk figure out the alien’s intentions, and convince the Klingon commander Kang that the way to weaken and drive away the alien is to stop fighting and together laugh at it. I think I’ll suggest this the next time our intra-department meetings get testy.
 
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Join in Spock – laughing is logical.

4. The one where Kirk and the Klingons collaborate to avert a war
“Day of the Dove” was about a fight between two crews. The movie Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country was about a potential all-out war between the Federation and the Klingons. Released in 1991, the movie was a timely allegory about the fall of the U.S.S.R. and how the U.S. would respond. There’s lots of stealthy, tech-aided collaboration between the Enterprise and the ‘good guy’ Klingons to foil an assassination attempt that would have crushed sensitive peace talks and launched an all-out war between the Federation and the Klingons.
3. The one where Spock helps Kirk fight…Spock?
Did you forget already that there were two Spocks in the 2009 reboot of the Star Trek film franchise? Leonard Nimoy plays the elder Spock, who has been transported into from an alternate universe into the same one where the younger Spock played by Zachary Quinto exists.
 
In a crucial scene, the older Spock advises young Kirk how to provoke the younger Spock into anger so that the latter will relinquish his temporary command of the Enterprise starship back to Kirk on the basis of being “emotionally compromised”. That seems unfair – who knows your emotional trigger points better than yourself? Still, this allows Kirk, Spock and crew to repulse the Romulan bad guy. All’s well that ends well. 
2. The one where Picard and an alien collaborate in order to communicate
The classic 1991 episode “Darmok” from Star Trek: The Next Generation has a profound message. You can speak words to someone, but they won’t grasp the deeper meaning you’re trying to convey unless you two have shared the same experiences.
Picard is sent to negotiate a peace treaty with an alien race. Using their Universal Translator software, Picard can understand the alien’s words “Darmok and Jalad at Tenagra” but cannot understand the meaning behind the metaphor. Frustrated, the aliens beam Picard down to their planet along with their leader, who offers Picard a knife. 
 
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Take it – just don’t stab me with it.
Rather than fighting each other, the alien wants Picard to join him in a quest to defeat a fearsome beast. In that battle, the alien leader is mortally wounded, but not before Picard understands the meaning: he and the alien are like the Darmok and Jalad, forging a friendship as they work together battling a common enemy. The alien’s ultimate sacrifice cements the budding friendship between the two races.
1. The one with Spock’s Goatee
I’m referring, of course, to “Mirror, Mirror,” the Original Series episode that launched a thousand bad Sci-Fi Channel movies about alternate universes where the good guys turn evil, don muscle shirts and stop shaving.
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Though his eyebrows remain shockingly kempt.
This episode is chockful of BAD collaboration. In the mirror universe, the evil versions of the Enterprise crew build violent alliances and backstab each other to get promoted. So evil Chekhov tries to assassinate Kirk, but is betrayed by one of his accomplices. It’s like a demented sci-fi reality show.
 
There are also some good examples of collaboration:
Evil Spock works with Good Kirk and his crew to send them back to their universe
Good Kirk advises Spock that making peace and collaboration with other races rather than conquering them will help the Empire (the evil Federation) thrive. 
And Evil Spock’s reply? He agrees. Because collaboration is logical, after all.
Are there other moments from Star Trek that stand out as exemplars of collaboration?

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Younified Communications—it Really is All About YOU!

One of my favorite things about working for Avaya is that we’re marketing the same collaboration tools we use to do our jobs. Best of all, we have access to beta versions of our solutions, providing R&D teams with first-hand unedited feedback. Yep, we are drinking our own champagne!

Based on my interactions with customers across the world, I know that many of you work just like we do. Meeting after meeting, virtual, mobile and in-person. It’s not just about the quantity of meetings we all participate in, but the quality of our experience to drive productivity and engagement. As you know, there are many different types of meetings. Let me give you a few examples just from my last week:

  • A group text chat with a few colleagues—getting a quick answer in a sidebar or multi-tasking activity
  • A one-on-one video meeting to review a spreadsheet with one of my staff members
  • A team meeting over desktop or mobile video where we collaborated about an upcoming quarterly plan—many IMs were going on behind the scenes that aligned with meeting topic discussions
  • Remote participation in a customer executive briefing, where the customer’s team was using a video room system in HD
  • A global all-employee meeting broadcast to every person in the company—that’s thousands of people across the world
  • A sales webinar to several hundred participants where we shared a presentation and responded to questions via integrated chat
  • A detailed technical training session on a product with full application sharing for a demonstration of the new user interface
  • Last but not least, a quick impromptu meeting on the phone with one of my team members

Historically, these different meeting types were hosted on multiple different systems or services. This required users to learn different interfaces, which required different logins, passwords, technical requirements, and delayed starts. At times, major compromises resulted based on the meeting scale required, bringing everyone’s level down to the lowest common denominator. The result? The least engaging experience for the audience, and therefore the lowest amount of attention and engagement, and consequently sub-optimal productivity.

Sound familiar? Do you have one solution for IM, another for telephony, perhaps a web conferencing service, a separate audio conferencing solution, another solution for room video conferencing and yet something else for large scale events? All of which fit under the term “unified” communications, but how much of it provides YOU with an engaging and collaborative experience?

A Single, Truly Unified Solution

While the vision of Unified Communications was to merge methods and tools and simplify access, vendors today struggle to fully consolidate all of the communication application infrastructure and cloud-based services into a single platform—at least until now. The Avaya Equinox™ Experience, announced at GITEX in October, is our new platform for business communications, and fulfills the long-sought promise of UC. It is finally all about YOU! One of the key capabilities of Avaya Equinox is that it supports all the different modes of meetings, conferencing and collaboration in one platform. That’s right—one tool that really does it all. There is robust mobility so it works wherever you have a network connection, high scale audio conferencing, extensive web collaboration, multi-media messaging, rich multi-vendor HD video, even event streaming to 100,000 users—and that’s just for starters.

As you would expect, there are many benefits of one platform covering all UC use cases and requirements versus separate platforms or services for messaging, telephony, audio, web, video, and event conferencing. For users, one login and one easy-to-learn solution. For IT, one solution to support with one set of statistics, single provisioning, and a smaller footprint with higher efficiency and lower costs.

I like to call Avaya Equinox the “uber” all calling-conferencing-collaboration solution, where Avaya puts the YOU in unified. But check out Avaya Equinox for yourself at this First Look video.

How many different communication and conferencing applications do you use? Tell me about your experiences—send a note to innovations@avaya.com.

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.