Enterprise Connect 2014: Mark Massingham on Innovation in IP Office Contact Centers

At Enterprise Connect 2014, Avaya has focused on solutions into the midmarket–roughly defined as businesses with 5,000 employees or less.

As part of our ongoing coverage of Enterprise Connect, I sat down with Mark Massingham, Senior Manager of Avaya’s Midmarket Segment Marketing team, to talk about how we’re innovating in that space.

Matt Young: So, Mark, what’s going on in the midmarket? It’s seeing a lot of growth.

Mark Massingham: It’s an interesting space. Midmarket is the fastest-growing segment and a huge focus for Avaya. IP Office has been around a long time and we’ve got a bunch of business partners who sell it. The R&D dollars are going toward using IP Office to expand Avaya’s innovation into the midmarket itself.

So now IP Office has got that traction–it certainly has the architecture–and now is a full collaboration suite. Only a few vendors can do this. One unique attribute of Avaya is we can do it with a solution from a single vendor.

IP Office has our core, but it also has that solution set surrounding it and supporting video, high-capacity audio conferencing, networking solutions, switching solutions, security, and so on.

So we’re going to be showing the IP Office Contact Center, which is the last piece of the puzzle.

This is a multichannel contact center solution for IP Office. Now we have the full surround–everything a midmarket customer could need from a single vendor, Avaya–in a multichannel contact center solution.

Related article: Avaya IP Office Helps Reality TV Star Grow his Business 14x

MY: So companies have been using ad hoc solutions in lieu of a unified approach?

MM: I don’t think they’ve really had the option until now for an all-in-one. They’ve had to do things piecemeal, where a vendor will have to bring in strategic partners to add in that particular component. We’re in the enviable position of being able to offer that.

MY: Can you talk about Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), and how that’s an important metric for midmarket customers?

MM: As you get into the midmarket, it’s more about TCO than ROI. It’s about having simplified administration in one solution, rather than in those piecemeal parts.

You’ve got all these bits and pieces. “What are they gonna cost me to own outside of just the buying piece? What do I need to invest over time?”

There are a lot of variables, and you’ve got to prove that you have low TCO, so it’s going to be, “How much of my IT’s time is going to be taken doing daily moves, adds and changes? Is it 15 minutes or is it three hours?”

Then you have more concrete TCO. With IP Office, you can say that to add new users will take five minutes, while a competing vendor is going to take you 20 minutes. It’s time-saving. It’s about a more overarching picture.

MY: What are the logistics in getting the value of Avaya solutions across to our midmarket customers?

MM: When you talk to a small business, you’re normally talking to the business owner. They’re the ones that are making the decisions. If you’re talking about no more than 50 users, you’re going to be talking to the business owner.

When you get into the midmarket, the buying decisions shift. You’re more likely to go into senior executives and IT people. It’s moving away from the business owner and more into the line of business managers and senior execs, so you’re now one line removed from the overarching decision maker as well.

As they get bigger, they’re going to rely more on customer referencing and professional demonstrations with executives going in and demonstrating. It’s a harder sell, and there’s going to be more of a lead time. Midmarket achievers are going to want more “proof-points.”

MY: What are the trends you’re seeing in the segment? What are the greatest areas of growth?

MM: The biggest areas of growth are mobility and the mobile workforce. Having the mobile workforce is crucial and figuring BYOD out as well.

Now, contact centers are the fastest-growing trend in the midmarket, which is the fastest-growing segment. Multimedia/multi-channel is a need, a must, and we’re supporting that with IP Office Contact Centers.

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We’re Doubling Down on the Cloud-Based Contact Center with Google

Nearly every business, no matter its size, has some mechanism in place to engage with their customers. For the world’s smallest companies, that’s usually a voicemail number or email address that one person responds to in their spare time.

In contrast, the world’s biggest companies deploy sophisticated, multimillion-dollar systems capable of efficiently processing hundreds of thousands of customer interactions per hour, using tens of thousands of customer engagement agents working 24/7.

But what about the millions of entrepreneurs who find themselves between these two poles?

Companies that are ready to improve their customer engagement, but aren’t ready for a big upfront investment, are increasingly looking to cloud-based, subscription services first.


Read: Avaya Chooses Google Cloud Platform for New Cloud-Based Contact Center Solution on the Google for Work blog


Analysts at Frost & Sullivan estimate the cloud-based customer engagement market will grow 11.6%, roughly twice the growth rate of premise-based customer engagement solutions.

Today, we’re announcing the Summer 2015 availability of Customer Engagement OnAvayaTM Powered by Google Cloud Platform. August 2015 update: The product is now available. Please click here for details.

I want to take a closer look at some of the new features we’ve been hard at work on, and why they’re so exciting.

This new solution provides low-cost agent setup, and allows agents to work from anywhere, right in the browser.

Imagine opening up your Chromebook and logging into the Customer Engagement OnAvayaTM Powered by Google Cloud Platform app with a simple username and password. No VPN required.

We do this by using HTTPS to establish a secure connection between the app and Avaya Secure Border Controller Element, software that verifies access to the database and routes relevant traffic to and from the app. Interactions inside the app are handled by WebRTC, an emerging Web standard that we’re strong supporters of.

HTTPS opens up a temporary information tunnel between the app and the enterprise, which closes as soon as the agents logs off. Every time you use Gmail, buy something online or check your bank balance from your phone, you’re using HTTPS.

Application-specific access using HTTPS has three major benefits for the enterprise: Simplicity, security and scalability.

First, simplicity. Onboarding a new agent is a snap, and can be done completely remotely. Instead of provisioning a new VPN token and sending the agent a complicated sheet of instructions, they log into a Web app–just as simple as logging into Gmail.

Second, security. VPN opens up a bigger tunnel into the enterprise, essentially placing the entire computer on the network virtually. With HTTPS access, data to and from the enterprise is limited to a single application. Nothing else gets through.

Lastly, scalability. The solution is hosted on Google Cloud Platform, which offers world-class reliability. It’s easy to scale up as your business needs grow, and new features are added automatically as they come online.

All customer data exists in the cloud, so if the agent’s Chromebook gets lost or stolen, your risk as an enterprise is greatly reduced.

The result is a truly virtual customer engagement solution, perfect for companies looking for a subscription-based cloud software model.

Customer Engagement OnAvayaTM Powered by Google Cloud Platform is widely available in the U.S. through certified Avaya business partners and Google for Work services partners.

Spring into the Avaya Technology Forum

It’s that time of year, again. The Avaya Technology Forum (ATF) is once more upon us.  Despite the added workload and dizzying deadlines, it really is my favorite time of year at work.  It’s like the Avaya version of Spring.

As seasons go, Spring stands out as a New & Improved version.  The grass is green, again.  My wife is out tending to all of her blooming plants and flowers.  The kids are racing around on their bikes and scooters getting reacquainted with playing outside and burning off months of pent up energy.  And I get to enjoy the view over the top of my computer screen, while trying to focus on conference calls instead of the little frolicking fawns in my backyard.

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In the same manner, ATF is full of new life and energy.  The demo floor is filled with passionate partners and curious customers.  The engineers are busily attending to new products and solutions.  Some of the brightest minds at Avaya are bouncing around from demos to whiteboards and all in between passionately listening to the challenges of different businesses and collaborating on the best ways to address them through technology.  And I get to soak it all in throughout a whirlwind of activities, while trying not to be late for my own sessions as I’m caught up in the energy of the conversations.

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While ATF is a fantastic event for corporate folks like me to engage and stay in touch with partners and customers and validate priorities for development, it’s ultimately an event for you.  ATF is focused on helping you make the most informed decisions possible about migrating, designing and implementing the right networking, customer engagement, unified communications and engagement architecture for your enterprise. It’s the only place you’ll find all the experts from Avaya in 1 place at 1 time, and their sole purpose is to showcase the latest innovations and provide the latest information to you through 3 days of planned sessions, scheduled meetings, demos and casual hallway conversations.  We’ll be introducing new products, making strategic announcements and providing full access to the roadmap, and you’ll be right there to hear it first and pose your questions to the people behind it all.  It’s the ultimate inside track.

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Of course, you can hear about it from the comfort of home…or your office if you prefer.  The coolest thing about ATF is all the technology on display.  We don’t just talk about it.  We actually show it.  On the demo floor, you’ll see existing equipment, as well as, the equipment that’s becoming generally available around the time of ATF.  You can get an overview of the setup from experts tending the demo and even get a firsthand view under the covers at the keyboard.  It gets better than that, though.  You’ll get the same experience with some of our strategic technology that’s still under development for release later this year.  The only way you’ll get any closer to the future of Avaya is to come join our team at ATF 2015, at the Buena Vista Palace Orlando, FL, from February 24 -26, 2015.

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So, as you can tell, I’m quite excited…and I hope you are, too.  Why wait for Mother Nature?  Come celebrate the Spring of technology with Avaya, and don’t forget to say, “hi.”  I’ll be easy to find.  Just listen for the loud Texas drawl bouncing around from conversation to conversation.  Once you find it, you’ll find me starry eyed, like a kid in a candy shop.  I can’t wait!

So head on down to the Avaya Technology Forum 2015website and register to attend today!

See you in Orlando!

Avaya Helps Track Santa This Christmas Eve, and Brings Military Families Together

Engagement is in our DNA. It’s in the way our teams communicate and collaborate. It’s in our vision for how customers and businesses will interact. It’s about bringing people together to forge deep, meaningful connections.

This year, engagement extends to the holiday season in a very special way. As we’ve done in years past, Avaya will help bring families closer to Santa, powering the contact center at NORAD where nearly 1,250 volunteers will answer calls and emails from kids inquiring about Santa’s whereabouts on Christmas Eve. Each year, the NORAD Tracks Santa team relies on the power of Avaya technology to make sure they can connect with children calling in from around the world.

The NORAD Santa tracker helps to connect kids with Santa’s helpers on Christmas Eve. It also reminds us that there are those who can’t make phone calls as easily as we can. Military servicemembers deployed overseas during the holiday season see the simple act of a phone call home to their loved ones as the best gift they could receive.

In an effort to help bring those families closer together, Avaya is supporting #SantaCause, making a donation to Cell Phones For Soldiers. This nonprofit organization–started by two kids who emptied their piggy banks to purchase phone cards for our military stationed abroad–has now donated more than 210 million minutes of talk time to troops and their families to make phone calls a possibility. We’re proud to be associated with Cell Phones For Soldiers and their incredible efforts to connect families all year long.

We would like to encourage you–our friends and partners–to join us in our effort to make the most important connections a reality this season. We’d like to also say thank you to our friends at @Plantronics for their generous donation.

To track Santa on Christmas Eve visit www.noradsanta.org or call 1 877 HI-NORAD.

To learn more Cell Phones For Soldiers and to make a donation: www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com