Mobility: Road Warrior Solutions

A road warrior is a person who needs to communicate while in transit, work from a public place or hotel, or operate from a customer or partner location. As noted in a previous blog (See Mobility: It’s More Than Just Apps!) Road Warrior is just one use case for mobility.

The objective of road warrior solutions is to make the user available for inbound and outbound communications and collaboration across a mix of device and location scenarios and to minimize cellular expenses. Among other benefits, this allows employees to spend more time in the field servicing customers while remaining connected to the back office that supports the goals and workflow of the enterprise.

  • EC500 (Extension to Cellular) is the most basic form of fixed mobile convergence and is both simple and cost effective. With EC500, calls to the enterprise number ring simultaneously on the user’s enterprise endpoint and mobile device. The user has the ability to place outbound calls through the Avaya Aura network by dialing into the network from their mobile device. These capabilities are available without the need for any end-user software and can work with any mobile phone, be it a smartphone or feature phone. Thus, while more advanced mobility solutions can be deployed for selected users and groups, IT can feel comfortable deploying Extension to Cellular capabilities to any and all employees.
  • Avaya Communicator/Avaya one-X software for Android, iPhone and iPad provide users with access to voice, video, conferencing, presence and IM. These clients operate over WiFi and 3G/4G networks. When used in SIP mode, these clients access Avaya Aura through the Avaya SBC using the data channel of the device. The iPhone and Android clients also have the ability to use the data channel to set up a call, but have the voice path come over the cellular or PSTN voice network. When used in this way, it is the enterprise identity that is projected outwardly, not the device or home number. When used over WiFi, this saves minutes on the cellular plan, and saves expensive roaming charges when used from international locations.
  • Avaya Scopia Desktop and Mobile clients enable users and guests to connect to virtual and physical video rooms from iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, and from Windows PCs and Macs over WiFi or 3G/4G networks. To join a meeting from any of these devices, users need only click on the URL sent in the calendar invitation, which will launch the software, enter the coordinates and navigate through the enterprise security mechanisms. The robust feature set is easy to use, as evidenced by the comparison report Tolly published showing that the effort to install, launch and join a Scopia conference took six steps and <1 minute, compared with Polycom RealPresence, which involved 50 steps and ~7 minutes.
  • Avaya Messaging Service is a hosted cloud offer that allows the enterprise number to be used for inbound and outbound text messages. This solves the single-number problem, where there are multiple ways in the industry to ring the mobile phone for inbound calls. Avaya Messaging service negates the need to publish the mobile device number in order for contacts to reach users via text.
  • 24×7 call logs offer persistence across devices and time. A user who receives a call from a prospect on a desk phone can call the customer back the next day from the call history in the smartphone log. Likewise, if a user switches into airplane mode for a cross-country flight, when they turn their phone on again, they can see who has been trying to reach them at their enterprise number while they were unavailable.
  • Avaya one-X Speech allows users to dial in to connect to a personal assistant for eyes-free, hands-free, speaker-independent access to Microsoft Exchange, Avaya Aura Messaging and Avaya Aura Communication Manager, providing access to Exchange email, Microsoft Word attachments, voicemail, Outlook calendar and contacts, corporate calling and ad-hoc audio conferencing. This application is ideal where distracted driving laws prohibit use of the smartphone, or for users who don’t have a smartphone and need access to these services.
  • Avaya Aura Messaging and related applications can notify users of new messages via email or SMS, and can have voice messages transcribed into text and delivered via email or SMS. Voice messages can be retrieved directly from the smartphone client.
  • Call control for road warriors through the mobile client allows users to determine if and when calls are directed to their smartphone. They have the ability to turn off business calls when on personal time. International travelers can insert a local SIM card into their device to eliminate expensive international roaming charges. Their contacts will continue to call, fax or text to the enterprise number, as there is no need for the user to communicate the number associated with their alternate SIM card.
  • While a desk phone is not a portable device, it supports the mobile worker–such as an accountant or consultant–who needs to temporarily set up shop at an external location. The desk phone discussion in the teleworker section applies equally to this class of road warrior. From any Internet connection, individuals can plug in their deskphone, authenticate and get connected to their enterprise.

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Continuous Learning: Propelling Forward in a Rapidly and Inevitably Changing World

Whether we realize it or not, advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality, and the Internet of Things (IoT) have transformed the way we think about the world around us. From how we protect our schools to the way we navigate our streets to how we shop for groceries, such technology now lies at the heart of practically everything we do today.

Just as these technologies have changed the way we live, they have changed the way we work. Today’s rapid pace of innovation has transformed nearly every business task, process, and workflow imaginable—so much so that industry analysts estimate that up to 45% of activities that employees are paid to perform can now be automated.

This digital disruption—or what many are calling the Fourth Industrial Revolution—without question redefines traditional roles and responsibilities. In fact, research shows that in five years, more than one third of skills that are considered important in today’s workforce will have changed. Even more, analysts estimate that 65% of children today will grow up to work in roles that don’t yet exist.

While we do still see employees that specialize in one skill or expertise, we’ve mostly moved away from the days of hiring an employee for just one job. As technology evolves, so too do the skills required to innovate and propel forward. Looking ahead, employees must have a propensity for continuous learning and adopting new skills to be able to recognize and respond to today’s speed of digital change.

Consider how technology has changed the marketing paradigm. As recently as 10 years ago, marketing platforms like Marketo and HubSpot had only just been founded, Facebook was still in its infancy, and the first iPhone had newly hit the market. As technologies like cloud, social, mobile and big data evolved, however, we suddenly began seeing new tools specifically designed to enhance digital media, social media marketing, and mobile marketing. As a result, companies began searching to fill roles for social media coordinators, digital campaign managers and integrated marketing planners—jobs that were unfathomable 15 to 20 years prior.

Fast forward to today and we’re seeing the emergence of new technology for marketing, such as augmented reality, geofencing, and emotion detection. The continual emergence of new technology perpetually creates skills gaps that must be filled by employees who are passionate, motivated, and invested in their own learning. These kinds of team members are committed to developing new skills and leveraging their strengths to outperform.

But not all employees can easily identify their strengths or develop new skills. This is likely why nearly half of employees today feel unengaged at work, with nearly 20% feeling “actively disengaged.” At the same time, companies are struggling to align employee strengths with organizational priorities. Employees may have certain strengths, but employers may find those skills don’t directly increase operational efficiency or performance. This is why nearly 80% of businesses are more worried about a talent shortage today than they were two years ago.

So, what’s the answer? Employees and employers must work together to identify what roles are currently filled, what skills are still needed, and who best exemplifies those skills. For employees, this means taking control of how they grow their careers and improving for the better. For employers, this means displaying an unwavering commitment to employee reinvestment by understanding key areas of interest to effectively fill skills gaps.

At Avaya, for example, we’re leading an employee enablement program under our Marketing 3.0 strategy. The initiative is designed to help strengthen our marketing organization by equipping employees with the right competencies that reflect our culture, strategy, expectations and market dynamics. By doing so, we can ensure we’re recruiting and managing talent in the most strategic way, putting the right people in the right jobs with the abilities to perform at maximum potential every day. By having each marketing function participate in a simple knowledge profile exercise, we can begin objectively determining development opportunities that best meet their needs and the needs of our business.

As technology continuously evolves, it’s crucial that employees have a propensity for continuous learning and that organizations foster an environment for this learning. In the words of former GE CEO Jack Welch, “An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.”

We live in a world that is rapidly and inevitably changing. Employees should embrace this change to thrive, and must if they wish to propel business forward. As employers, we are responsible for strategically leveraging our resources to align employee strengths with organizational needs to succeed in this environment of constant change.

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.