How Ahead of the Curve is Your Network Provider?

Think about your smart device. Think of all of the apps and all of the tasks you can do on it. Now think about how a company would communicate fifteen years ago.

It’s amazing to consider the differences in an employee’s work life not too long ago. You were tethered to a desk phone to take your calls, and in the early 2000s  the hottest new option incorporated into Apple iBooks (iBooks!) was a slot for a new thing called WiFi that had yet to explode and become a free service you could find anywhere including your neighborhood coffee shop and restaurant.

Nowadays? Communications is changing rapidly. In the era of the global business world, you’re taking a video conference call from your hotel and responding to emails while you’re in line at the grocery store. The way we consume our communications is evolving faster and faster with each new app and portable device. In this Unified Communications day and age, you have the ability to be incredibly agile because of all of the options IT can now provide.

How agile is your IT though? While IT leaders have spent billions on tech that improves flexibility within computing and application tiers, they often falter when it comes to simplifying existing communication and networking tiers. Today’s network lacks in agility, and more  often than not, it is older and costing you. In 2013, the ZK Network Purchasing study revealed that 83 percent of IT budgets are used to maintain existing networks, nearly an 11 percent increase in five years. And they don’t necessarily play well with today’s hottest solutions, slowing employees and your business down.

It’s hard to simply replace an existing legacy network though. As complex as old technology may be, a company may not be in the market to completely overhaul their hardware. A recent white paper by ZK Research points to Avaya as being aware of this change in the needs of a company. Instead of looking to sell a product to replace network infrastructure, Avaya sells  solutions to help streamline legacy networks so they can be tapped to take full advantage of the wide range of unified communications options available. For every one hardware endpoint sold, Avaya sells five to eight of their software solutions — tapping into a market that few IT leaders have invested in.

Avaya’s transformation, including  its restructured approach to selling networking solutions, has positioned the company to put it ahead of the curve with market transitions. Research shows that Avaya’s midmarket revenue could potentially double due to an estimated increase in deal size paired with even a small market share gain. Other standout predictions suggest immense promise in Asia and overall growth.

Now think about your smart device again. Think about the fifteen years before and those chunky cell phones that couldn’t sync to your desk phone. How WiFi wasn’t there to connect you to the rest of the world that was beyond your cubicle and high-speed internet was something that was bits instead of megabits. Now think about fifteen years into the future. Because Avaya already is.

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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.

 

Preparing for the eCall Directive in the UK

We have all seen many TV shows where the emergency services have pinpoint accuracy for your location, yet why it is that when you have an emergency yourself the first question they ask is, “where are you?” Location is a critical variable that determines when and how quickly help can be provided to you, yet it is the one thing that the emergency services do not have.

Fortunately there’s new legislation being implemented that will change this. From October next year emergency services control rooms will have to be ready for Emergency Call (eCall). Under the new law, in the event of a traffic accident an automated message will be sent from the vehicle involved to the emergency services, providing GPS coordinates, and vehicle information. Research suggests that the mandatory use of the system could halve response times, especially in rural areas.

While this is great news, it also presents a huge challenge for emergency services control rooms.

To discuss these challenges and the impact of eCall on public safety bodies in the UK, B-APCO in conjunction with Avaya held a mini conference at its UK HQ last week, with 80 representatives from emergency services, central and local government, Highways England, roadside assistance organisations, and British car manufacturers.

It’s clear that eCall won’t just happen by itself and so one of the biggest topics discussed at the event—and one of the biggest challenges for public safety communications professionals—was around ensuring command and control rooms are ready for the directive.

eCall will add a new dimension to emergency service interactions: it will be the first time these services have access to a Global Positioning System reference that communicates the exact location of the incident. It will also be the first time that they receive enhanced telemetry information in relation to the incident.

Multi-Channel Contact Centres Required

To facilitate this interaction, the UK emergency services need to upgrade their infrastructures and update their existing voice-only contact centres to accommodate this new channel and comply with the first global mandate for the connected car. Using a third-party product Avaya has a solution that is orderable now to address this, creating a true multi-channel contact centre for emergency services and public safety agencies. What’s more it can be implemented as an upgrade to existing command and control centres.

Training Required

At the same time, control room staff must prepare for the many new service elements they need to deliver. For example, eCall for the first time will require the call take and dispatcher to make a value judgment not only on what they can hear, but also what they can see in terms of data in front of them—and this will require in-depth training.

Both of these are big projects, particularly given the short time-frame, are not something that public safety professionals can complete by themselves. Thanks to our heritage in emergency services communications, our close relationship with BT, and the solution we have created, Avaya is in a very strong position to help the services meet the October 2017 deadline.

While most emergency services in the UK are not yet ready for eCall, last week’s event certainly helped answer a lot of questions. To me it feels like together, we’re now making progress in putting this very worthwhile directive into practice.

 

User-Defined Engagement is in Avaya’s DNA

User-defined engagement is our new mantra at Avaya. We dream it, innovate for it, develop it, live it. It is in our DNA. With more than 300,000 customers worldwide utilizing Avaya communications software, services and applications, we understand engagement better than most. We also know that in this new consumer-driven digital world, the customer should be the one to define their own digital experiences.

In this new Avaya video, I talk about what we mean by user-defined engagement and how we have transformed our portfolio to be able to innovate for today’s digital customer experience.

User-defined engagement is the new ideal for any software company to embrace. It’s about listening to the customer first, before we develop a solution. It’s a mind shift for any development organization, but an important shift to make. A one-size-fits-all approach with a few customizable pieces and parts is no longer acceptable. Customers are the users of the solution. They know better than anyone what problems the solution needs to solve.

At Avaya, we understand that “going digital” requires not only a commitment to user-defined engagement but also a commitment to an all-software development platform. Digital transformation requires us to continue to evolve and simplify our portfolio of solutions and services to prioritize the quality, speed, accuracy and security of every experience when engaging with or within an enterprise. We are seeing a melding of customer and team engagement solutions, which makes sense. After all, your employees might not all be your specific customers but they are someone’s customers. Likewise, many of your customers are likely someone else’s employees. Both groups expect to be able to use similar solutions that enable similar experiences with your enterprise.

With this commonality in mind, we are building all of our customer and team engagement solutions on the same platform, Avaya Breeze™. A middleware component, Breeze pulls together applications and acts as a developer platform for building new, turnkey applications. In fact, Breeze is our developer platform of choice inside Avaya. Everything we do for customer and team engagement applications and services is now based on Breeze, which brings me to the Avaya Oceana™ solution.

Finally, a true omnichannel customer experience solution for the digital age. Avaya Oceana is the only all-inclusive experience platform for today’s digital enterprise. Built with employees, agents, and customers in mind, Oceana represents the convergence of the contact center with the enterprise. With historical and real-time analytics, Oceana provides that full contextual experience across all channels, enabling the enterprise to be smarter, employees more productive, and customers simply happier.

Never before in the history of customer and team engagement has technology been so advanced, yet so simple to use. At Avaya, we like to say that we engineer out the complexity so the user experience is simple and intuitive. We are at a point when the enterprise and the contact center equally have the ability to exceed customer and employee expectations, while enabling new and innovative engagement opportunities for improved business outcomes. Oceana is the one solution that can make it all happen…easily.