Marine Corps Marathon Races to the Finish Line

An estimated 30,000 marathoners from 50 countries took to the streets of our nation’s capitol Saturday for the 39th annual Marine Corps Marathon. So did 120,000 spectators who were there to cheer them on and enjoy a gorgeous fall day.

They lined a route that wound past a host of scenic monuments and historic sites – from the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and National Mall to the Arlington National Cemetery.

Avaya Government Solutions was out in full force and proud to be a sponsor. We staffed water stations along the 26.2-mile course and even fielded our own team of runners.

Retired Marine and Medal of Honor winner Kyle Carpenter kicked things off by parachuting to the starting line carrying a 7,800-square-foot flag you could see from miles away. He shed his flight suit and then ran the race. That’s quite the feat, considering the severe injuries he suffered just four years ago diving onto a grenade to save a fellow Marine.

There were dozens of other inspiring stories around every turn – from the disabled vet who lost his legs and ‘ran’ the marathon on a hand-propelled skateboard, to the mother of a severely wounded Marine who competed to raise money for the Semper Fi Fund benefiting wounded warriors.

Those kinds of heroic stories have helped to make the event one of the largest marathons in the world. It has come to be known as the “People’s Marathon” since no prize money is awarded. Instead, runners compete for bragging rights and the love of the race.

And speaking of bragging rights… two Army runners took top honors this year, an outcome I’m certain will ratchet up rivalry among the services for years to come. Army Spec. Samuel Kosgei placed first in the men’s division, while Army Captain Meghan Curran led the women’s division. Congratulations to all!

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5 Key Steps to Modernizing the Federal Government

Modernizing the communications systems of government agencies creates significant challenges—and opportunities—for the new Administration. Key to improving services for the estimated 324 million Americans, the new Administration will need to modernize the communications systems of Federal Government agencies.

Four significant trends have arisen over the last several years that are challenging Federal IT systems and budgets, which can be addressed through technology and innovation for better service at more cost-efficient rates:

  1. A three-year decline in citizen satisfaction between the kind of communications citizens expect and the kind many agencies provide today.
  2. Security incidents in public and private networks are growing at an alarming rate across the globe, with a 38% increase in cyber threats in 2015. The total overall cost to the global economy puts the damage to enterprise businesses somewhere between $375 and $575 billion a year.
  3. More powerful, mobile devices and the impact of consumer-oriented technologies has changed how people interact with the modern world, requiring a shift away from legacy technology That small device a growing number of the populace carries is often responsible for keeping them connected 24/7.
  4. Citizens have expressed their desire for seamless, multi-channel experiences. In 2013, 82% of customers surveyed by Avaya and British Telecom said they prefer organizations that offer multiple channels to meet different needs.

To help the new Administration, an eBook from Avaya Government Solutions, Transforming Government Business for the Digital Age: How to understand and prepare for IT modernization, provides a guide for analyzing and solving the following questions:

  • What communications challenges are government agencies facing?
  • What can government agencies do to improve communications systems?
  • How much do you estimate is the amount of waste in the Federal Government?

Among the recommendations found in the eBook for improving citizen services and creating cost efficiencies at the same time, the new Administration might consider:

  • Consolidating and automating routine tasks inside the network to reduce costs and save resources
  • Simplifying and creating a unified hub for communications systems that syncs up existing technology with technology innovations
  • Implementing an open standards architecture platform that can operate with a variety of service needs
  • Assessing and optimizing an organization’s IT infrastructure and application platform across capabilities and continuity
  • Ensuring reliability and security of network activity so that it is safe, secure and running at peak performance

Stepping into the Oval Office on January 20, 2017 for the first time, the new President will face many challenges. Recommendations found in the eBook can help Federal Government agencies to cost efficiently meet the needs of a new generation of Americans needing assistance.

Leveraging Contact Center Technology to Help America’s Soldiers While Improving Performance and Saving Money

To help government agencies improve the constituent experience while saving millions of dollars each year, our Avaya Government Solutions team is constantly conducting enterprise business analysis, based on Lean Six Sigma principle and a four-step process of discovery, benchmark, scope improvements.

Using comprehensive metrics was critical to determining best deployment and savings for the Defense Health Agency (DHA), a joint, integrated Combat Support Agency that enables the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Air Force medical services to provide a medically-ready force in both peacetime and wartime.

The Avaya team demonstrated to Mack Wyche, Chief, Telecommunications Branch, DHA that UC, contact center, and SIP technologies could streamline the agency’s enterprise conference premise solution, migrate from legacy to SIP trunks at its headquarters, and enhance equipment maintenance. Modernizing all points of DHA’s unified communications and contact center architecture will provide superior performance and $1.5 million in savings, which will fully self-fund the upfront capital.

By centralizing the enterprise conferencing solution that would generate savings of $1.5 million in FY2017 and beyond, the decision was easy for Mr. Wyche: “Avaya Government Solutions provided us with a strong analysis of our current environment and was able to quickly demonstrate savings on day 1 in our contact center infrastructure. Thanks to Avaya Government Solutions, we can now more efficiently serve our soldiers while the savings more than pay for the investment. We look forward to implementation of the Avaya solution and to their continued support.”

Helping the DHA is one of the more gratifying among countless examples of how we are helping Federal and state agencies deliver superior customer services while maximizing their investments. We are proud that our business value analysis, based on Lean Six Sigma principles, clearly demonstrated the superiority of our solution that generated savings immediately.

Mr. Wyche and the DHA are why we get up each day to review, evaluate, and propose smart solutions that help critical government agencies deliver on their promise to their constituents and the American people.

  • Is your contact center performing at peak level for your constituents?
  • When was the last time that you had a comprehensive business analysis of your contact center?
  • Has your agency centralized the enterprise conferencing solution?

Helping Navigate the “Perfect Storm”

Federal Agencies Turn to Fabric Networks and Unified Communications for Cybersecurity, Service Delivery, Telework, and Modernization Without Rip and Replace

This year presents a particularly challenging environment with tighter budgets, limited resources, and a Presidential Election. Agencies are looking to take advantage of promising new technologies that speed efficiency and delivery while tapping into their existing infrastructure. In other words, modernize rather than rip and replace. We see government becoming more agile while working under tighter budgets, creating the “Perfect Storm.”

The need for an agile and flexible government has never been as necessary, or possible, until today. Harnessing time and money-saving technology in cloud, mobility, telework, cybersecurity, data center consolidation and the need for real collaboration has created great opportunities for all of those in the partner chain.

For many agencies with legacy ISDN networks, there is no ability to fork lift the entire telecommunications network. Instead, using secured cloud platforms, many agencies are turning to month-to-month OpEx solutions to get the modern solutions that they now need.

Fabric Network Bolsters Cybersecurity

In this market environment, agency, IT managers are looking for fabric network solutions because they offer an upgradeable and sustainable path. Bridging the old and new networks, fabric networks can help make a switch to migrate forward. For instance, when the National Guard recently needed to upgrade its network, they looked toward a software-defined network with four goals:

  • Replace their cybersecurity posture
  • Modernize and simplify their operations network
  • Add the capability and easy access to applications and services on the fly that can meet their mission
  • Ensure flexibility and agility as necessary

Just recently, McConnell Air Force Base, located in Wichita, Kansas and home to the Air Mobility Command’s 22nd Air Refueling Wing, Air Force Reserve Command’s 931st Air Refueling Group and the Kansas Air National Guard’s 184th Intelligence Wing, installed Fabric Connect technologies to modernize its network infrastructure that supports 6,000 users.

The new architecture will improve protection against cyberattacks through a unique approach that makes the McConnell network invisible to scanning techniques used to uncover network topologies and develop a plan of attack.

While defending against attack, the Social Security Administration (SSA) planned for its 500 millionth phone call. Each of the SSA’s 1,6000+ offices had been long dependent on a conventional, old-school PBX phone framework nearing end of life. Creating a nationwide network required a cutting-edge IP telephony network to manage its average 400,000 daily calls. The SSA recognized the need to future-proof its system with an impending influx of Baby Boomers coming of age for Social Security.

The SSA was able to streamline and consolidate systems, and cut costs by as much as 50% depending on office location. The carrier-grade, enterprise solution is government-owned and Avaya-managed, end-to-end. It features leading technology, from Network Skills Based Routing to Dynamic Virtual Forward, and gives the agency redundancies that help it support contact centers in four regions of the United States seamlessly. As a result, the agency was able to get through Hurricane Sandy, and major blizzards and storms without an incident. Next step for SSA is to look toward unified communications to deal with plans for an increase in soft phones, teleworking and VoIP capabilities in the near future.

As government agencies evolve and into the 2020’s, innovation will be a must. Rather than focusing on processes, market surveys, and requests for proposals with rigorous requirements, forward-thinking agencies need to consider turning to industry for open and innovative solutions.

Going forward, we hope to provide an overview of how the government can take advantage of best technology practice and solutions in this ever-challenging market environment of limited budgets and reuse of legacy systems. Vendors with vast experience and capabilities in moving government forward have never been more necessary than today.

  • What are your top network priorities?
  • What trends do you see developing in the second half of 2016?