Winning Business Strategies from the Six Nations Championship

After six weeks, 15 games and 1,200 minutes of unflinching action, the 2015 Six Nations Champions have finally been crowned, following the most dramatic and exhilarating of finishes.

While (to my bitter disappointment) Wales didn’t win, at least the team figures in the match of the tournament. Who can forget their amazing fourth-round game where they dashed Ireland’s dream of a grand slam with a wave of superhuman physical effort that just kept coming?

For me, the top moment of that match–in fact, probably of the whole tournament–was the absolutely deafening roar that greeted referee Wayne Barnes’ decision to award a penalty for Jonathan Sexton going over the top.

The wall of sound got me thinking. In that moment, with all the raucousness, how does a coach–meters away from his players–get his team to focus and pull together? As a schoolboy rugby player and competitive sportsman myself, I can assure you that a team’s behavior and psyche in those vital seconds between a penalty being awarded and taken, are completely dependent on the preparation, collaboration and communication between the players and their support staff.

This observation rings true in the business world, too. A truly successful team, on or off the pitch, combines both communication and collaboration to become fully engaged. Let me explain.

While communication is necessary if players are to be effectively instructed and inspired, we should remember that it’s not a one-way street. A coach who doesn’t listen to his players can’t keep in touch with morale or feedback with solutions to problems affecting the team. It’s the same in business. Collaboration is about enabling colleagues and peers to work together.

The engagement part is important, as it’s all about creating value from that collaboration.

It requires leaders to encourage all team members to take an active role in working toward their shared goal.

It also requires consistent, reliable communication that can support innovation and problem solving. Engagement is the result of strong communication and collaboration, combined with shared experience across the whole team, and external stakeholders too.

In the Six Nations Championship, this involved physiotherapists, coaches, fans, even sponsors. In a business context, think customers, colleagues external to your team or even suppliers.

Statistics that quantify the impact of team engagement on the rugby pitch are hard to come by, but according to PWC, the most engaged workplaces experience 2x higher productivity and customer loyalty, enabling them to grow 3x faster than their competitors. Gallup has also found that 59 percent of more engaged employees say that work brings out their most creative ideas, against 3 percent of less engaged ones.

At the beginning of the Championship, I said that regardless of who triumphed in this year’s tournament, the team’s collective engagement was certain to be one of the keys to their victory.

Watching Ireland play on Saturday, I felt vindicated in my comment. There is no doubt that their focus and commitment was due to an incredibly high level of team engagement. Engagement enabled the team to be greater than the sum of its parts: delivering on set pieces, yet showing creativity and flair–all with a hearty dose of determination.

Much to my chagrin as a Welshman, I find myself thinking that leaders in all fields should be taking a leaf from the Irish playbook.

For more business insights and examples of how to grow an engaged business, follow our dedicated midmarket page on LinkedIn.

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Digital Transformation—Powering New Experiences for Employees and Customers

There’s no let-up in the pace of change. New apps, new services and new ways of getting it done seem to spring up daily, and can seem at times, overwhelming. Thankfully, many of these new capabilities are actually making our lives easier, more fulfilling, and more productive. We’re on the cusp of a change that will go well beyond Googling an answer or picking up a voice call when you’re out and about. The analyst firm IDC calls the change Digital Transformation (DX) and defines it as “an approach that enables organizations to drive changes in their business models and ecosystems by leveraging digital competencies.”

Digital Transformation is Underway and Moving Fast

Digital Transformation promises to change the very fabric of our lives, as the Internet of Things, mobility, and big data make us more aware, more reachable, and more satisfied with our interactions, both personal and professional. The road to DX will be paved with innovations large and small. They will change the way we interact with other people and with the machines that move us, house us, feed us, and keep us healthy and engaged. But what about today? How can DX allow me to do a better job today?

IDC has done some interesting research on the notion of unified communications—that promised land of intuitive, rapid, well-organized, and multimodal interaction that we’ve been talking of for so long. They’ve determined that the market for UC solutions is growing (by 9% per year to about $38B globally by 2020) and that increasing productivity and collaboration and reducing expenses remain the key motivators for UC investments.

The Day-Changing Avaya Equinox™ Experience

These motivators are at the heart of the Avaya Equinox Experience. Equinox is built around a mobile-first reality—the notion that our smartphones and tablets have become our lifeline to … everything. How often do you look at your phone? Someone told me the average is 84 times a day. If you’re a boomer like me, it might not be that many times, but I’d guess I still look at my phone at least 40 times during my work day. Now what if each time I looked at my phone I was presented with my meeting schedule, my latest IMs, and my recent call logs? And what if that information was mirrored across my devices so that I could move seamlessly from my desk to my smartphone to my tablet to my laptop and always get the same consistent information, presented in the same intuitive way?

Sounds good, doesn’t it? And what if I could take the next step and actually take action on that information with a single tap? Enter my conference calls, open video and collaboration, return a call, or respond to a message? This ability to both understand my day’s priorities and take action on what’s most important is what defines the Avaya Equinox Experience. It’s the ability to have a UC experience that is, in fact, unified! It makes a major difference in my day and you can likely imagine how it could make a major difference in yours.

More DX Solutions from Avaya

Along with the Equinox Experience, Avaya also recently released two other innovations that we think define and support your move to DX. The Avaya Breeze™ Client SDK was used to create Equinox and Avaya now offers it to our developer ecosystem and our customers to create their own unique experiences. Would you like to integrate communications into an existing enterprise application? Does Equinox sound intriguing but you’re wondering if you could make a few tweaks for your specific vertical or enterprise needs? Add collaboration to a unique mobile app you’ve created? Or develop a kiosk experience that includes seamless communications access to additional resources? The Avaya Breeze Client SDK will give you the tools you need to bring the world of DX into your own organization—in the way that you think is best.

But what about placing those unique experiences into your environment? Your hotel rooms? Your patient rooms? Your retail spaces? Or your branch offices? Avaya Vantage is an all-glass device that is secure and admin-able and lets you take the customized experiences you created with the Breeze Client SDK and place them cost effectively into the locations that make sense for your business. You can provide unique offers, tailored experiences, create awareness of your services, and take your customer’s experience to the next level.

Interested in learning more? Check out the video clip of IDC Analyst, Rich Costello, and Avaya Director of Product Management, Paul Relf, as they discuss how digital transformation powers the new UC work experience. Read the IDC paper on DX and Avaya solutions. As always, we’re here to help you on your own DX journey! Send us a note, ask us a question, pose a problem to solve—we’d love to hear from you.

The New UC Experience Designed For You

There’s no shortage of industry research that indicates massive continued growth for the unified communications (UC) market. Last year, for example, Gartner projected the global UC market to increase from $40.9 billion in 2014 to $42.4 billion by 2019 as a result of growing demand for cloud-based services and digital transformation. Some research firms expect the market to top $96 billion as soon as 2023.

Demand for UC is clear. However, a stronger solution is necessary to support organizations as they work to digitize and embrace today’s rapid pace of innovation. This poses an important question: what do businesses need (or expect) their UC experience to look like in today’s smart, digital world driven by anytime/anywhere access, rapid responsiveness, always-on connectivity and contextualized customer experiences?

We recently polled IT managers, business owners, employees and end-users to find out. In doing so, we discovered that the ideal UC experience must include several key capabilities that support a next-generation business ecosystem.

Most notably:

  • The ability to seamlessly integrate UC capabilities into existing collaboration tools and third-party apps (or, better yet, directly into the browser for immediate use, simplified interoperability and lowered costs).
  • 360-degree mobile compatibility; ubiquitous access regardless of device being used.
  • Faster responsiveness across the entire enterprise in order to make better informed decisions that accelerate operations and positively impact the customer lifecycle at every touch point.

As long as businesses struggle to break the barriers of siloed interactions, however, this UC experience will unfortunately remain out of reach. Even businesses that support advanced communications may not have the ability to make those capabilities malleable enough to adapt to (or amplify) each individual user experience. After all, the goal is to maximize productivity by driving the individual user experience based on specific preferences and desired business outcomes. In other words, allowing employees to get work done where they want, when they want and, most importantly, in a way that works best for them based on their ever-changing circumstances and needs.

Our findings made it clear that today’s technology doesn’t deliver the next-generation UC experience businesses need or expect—the kind that enables them to not just deliver, but influence communications.

So, what’s the answer? The way we see it, UC will never be what businesses need it to be until “YOU” is factored into the equation. A flawless UC experience must enable communications experiences that fit how users individually work best, instead of forcing them to change how they work to fit an existing architectural mold. This means implementing technology that not only understands employees’ individual preferences, but leverages them to create contextual user experiences that maximize productivity.

Businesses are longing for a better UC experience, and we hear them loud and clear. That’s why next week Avaya is rolling out its all-new team engagement platform. Stay tuned for more details in the coming days and get ready to experience a simply better way to communicate and get work done.

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.