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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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.

What is Happening in the Business Communications Space?

Over the past few weeks since joining Avaya, many people who know me—and others who don’t—have asked me two very specific questions:

  1. What is going on in business communications?
  2. Why did you join Avaya?

There are headlines galore about the current status and future of the business communications industry. It’s all been very interesting to watch. If I was merely an observer or if my knowledge of this space was limited to only what I read in the press, I might consider running far away from it all, as fast as possible. But this is business communications. It’s everywhere. We all communicate. There really is nowhere to run. Whether we like it or not, we will be communicating with one another until, well, forever.

I’ve been in and around this industry for more than 20 years. I’ve built applications, platforms, services of all kinds. These days my role is “the strategy guy.” We all have our niche—strategy is mine. For me, strategy is a function of and can be derived from cultural observation. Understand your culture and strategy emerges. This kind of anthropological approach is valuable. Once this insight is embraced, the information itself is the advantage. We can then begin to ask, with the possibility of knowing:

  • What direction the industry might be headed?
  • How can a company succeed?
  • Does it make sense to be a category killer or category creator?

These are among the questions I’m tasked with providing guidance on how best to answer.

What I Know for Sure

Business communications as an industry must evolve. How we got here is no accident. We’ve been innovating for this window of opportunity for years. All of the headlines happening now are expected because what this industry does matters. It affects everyone, every day, from Main Street to Wall Street and beyond. And a huge part of this evolution is the impact of today’s consumers who, armed with multiple smart devices, are operating like individual digital enterprises. They have embraced the Age of Intelligence and are in the business of themselves.

Following their customers’ lead, businesses are now learning that when you can think intelligently, you can think intelligently about information and technology, delivery and consumption of that information, about every industry, every type of consumer and so on. To paraphrase Tony Buzan, world-renowned expert on the brain, memory, speed reading, creativity and innovation: before now, while we have always been making tremendous progress as a society—Industrial Revolution, Era of Manufacturing, Space Age, Age of Information and Technology—we were not doing things intelligently. We were simply getting things done and advancing our capabilities. The technology, tools and skill sets needed were not evolved enough to create the cultural shift that is now happening with consumers, enterprises … the world.

A critical component in succeeding in this new age is the ability to manage how and why the enterprise, consumers and employees think. But then, once managed, how to urgently communicate the data from person to person, employee to consumer, employee to enterprise, consumer to enterprise, consumer to machine, machine to machine, etc., to drive action. Enabling this level of smart digital communications to drive action is not only the barrier of entry to succeeding in the Age of Intelligence, but it is finally possible.

Why Avaya Will Be THE Leader in the Age of Intelligence

When I joined the company, one of my first objectives was to meet as many people as possible. I needed to see the culture in action; see how Avaya’s own culture could impact the broader culture. What I found was nothing short of invigorating. Avaya’s culture has an innate understanding of communications and a deep desire to redefine what it means to have outstanding customer experiences. This is a company that has gone through tremendous change, yet it continues to innovate through insight and influence. It has the qualities required to impact technological and cultural shifts. This company with great history, incredible team, innovative technology and deep desire is now sitting on the cusp of new opportunity.

I would argue that Avaya’s competitors are still going through or have yet to go through this magnitude of change in order to participate in the evolution of the industry. I know many others in the communications marketplace; they are all smart people at smart companies. However, there is a difference. Avaya has the advantage of its own maturity as a company, looking to impact others while perfecting itself.

I see this as a critical lever in devising a market-winning perspective. Avaya knows what it knows and has a savvy that cannot be underestimated. It is a company already hard at work making a difference in the outcomes of its customers and their customers.

Haven’t we all known Avaya for years, just as we know many of its competitors? In my opinion, more than 300,000 Avaya customers worldwide—and many customers to come on the horizon—will continue to benefit from one of the finest communications companies ever.

And Now, Some Details

Here is what I uncovered and why I believe Avaya is the company to lead the evolution of the business communications industry.

Current Customer Sentiment about Avaya

According to an ongoing independent survey commissioned by Avaya and conducted by Walker, a customer intelligence consulting firm:

  • In FY16, 85% of Avaya customers agree that Avaya has an overall excellent reputation from company to portfolio. This percentage has increased since 2014.
  • In FY16, 82% of Avaya customers agree that Avaya is stable and secure, which has been consistent for the past two years.
  • Avaya’s Net Promoter Score of 59 is currently “Best in Class” which is in the 50% to 70% range with Apple and the Ritz Carton. Avaya is striving for the 70% range which is known as “World Class.” Most of Avaya’s competitors are in the 20% to 49% range.
  • More than 1,000 companies with 1.3 million users globally have chosen to upgrade to or purchase Avaya Aura® Platform release 7, the software-only contact center platform for companies evolving to a digital enterprise. Commitment to evolving to the digital enterprise with Avaya is strong and growing. With Avaya Aura comes access to Avaya Breeze, the single integrated application development platform that works in conjunction with any device or system, enabling enterprises and developers to build and deploy collaboration and customer engagement applications in hours to days versus weeks to months, without prior communication development skills.
  • With 4.5 million licenses on Breeze, Avaya customers have embraced the ability to access and develop their own apps quickly with Avaya software. According to the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Mobile App Development Platforms published in July 2015, eight months before Breeze was available: “Enterprises seeking a mobile development platform have expressed to Gartner a requirement for rapid mobile app development tools that can be used by less technical staff such as business analysts and process experts.”

Avaya’s Global Market Share by Solution

  • Avaya is #1 Contact Center/ACD worldwide with 34.4% global market share.
  • Avaya is #1 worldwide in Unified Messaging with 46.8% global market share.
  • Avaya is #1 worldwide in Small Medium Enterprise Telephony Systems with 23.1% global market share.
  • Avaya is #2 worldwide in Telephony Systems with 18.8% global market share.
  • Avaya is #1 worldwide in Voice Maintenance Services with 9.7% global market share.
  • Avaya is #1 worldwide in Interactive Voice Response with 21.6% global market share.
  • Avaya is #1 worldwide in Audio Conferencing with 29.9% global market share.
  • Avaya is #2 worldwide in Unified Communications with 21.4% global market share.

Avaya’s APAC Market Share by Solution Category

  • Avaya is #1 in Contact Center/ACD in APAC with 28.8% market share, which is more than 8 points ahead of #2 Huawei.
  • Avaya is #1 in Unified Messaging in APAC with 50.7% market share.
  • Avaya is #2 in Interactive Voice Response in APAC with 13.5% market share.
  • Avaya is #2 in Outbound Dialer in APAC with 17.1% market share.

Avaya’s Canada Market Share by Solution Category

  • Avaya is #1 in Contact Center/ACD in Canada with 41.0% market share, which is 6.5 points ahead of #2 Cisco.
  • Avaya is #1 in Unified Messaging in Canada with 45.3% market share, which is 28 points ahead of #2 Mitel.
  • Avaya is #1 in Small Medium Enterprise Telephony Systems in Canada with 31.6% market share, which is 6.6 points ahead of #2 Cisco.
  • Avaya is #1 in Telephony Systems in Canada with 30.7% market share.
  • Avaya is #2 in Voice Maintenance Services in Canada with 10.4% market share.

Avaya’s EMEA Market Share by Solution Category

  • Avaya is #1 in Contact Center/ACD in EMEA with 33.0% market share.
  • Avaya is #1 in Unified Messaging in EMEA with 41.4% market share.
  • Avaya is #1 in Interactive Voice Response in EMEA with 23.6% market share.
  • Avaya is #1 in Small Medium Enterprise Telephony Systems in EMEA with 15.1% market share.
  • Avaya is #2 in Telephony Systems in EMEA with 13.6% market share.

Avaya’s Latin America Market Share by Solution Category

  • Avaya is #1 in Contact Center/ACD in Latin America with 40.1% market share.
  • Avaya is #1 in Contact Center/Total in Latin America with 32% market share, which is 19 points ahead of #2 Genesys.
  • Avaya is #1 in Interactive Voice Response market share in Latin America with 51% market share.
  • Avaya is #1 in Unified Messaging in Latin America with 55.1% market share.
  • Avaya is #3 in Telephony Systems in Latin America with 18.3% market share.
  • Avaya is #2 in Small Medium Enterprise Telephony Systems in Latin America with 18.4% market share.

Avaya’s U.S. Market Share by Solution Category

  • Avaya is #1 in Contact Center/ACD in the U.S. with 37.4% market share, which is 14 points ahead of #2 Cisco.
  • Avaya is #1 in Unified Messaging in the U.S. with 40.8% market share, which is 20 points ahead of #2 Cisco.
  • Avaya is #1 in Voice Maintenance Services in the U.S. with 21.5% market share.
  • Avaya is #1 in Interactive Voice Response in the U.S. with 28.5% market share.
  • Avaya is #2 in Telephony Systems in the US with 20.1% market share.
  • Avaya is #2 in Small Medium Enterprise Telephony Systems in the US with 22.4% market share.


It’s a long list but an important one. Avaya’s customers like Avaya. They like Avaya’s influence in their business lives. They continue to do business with Avaya for too many reasons to list and this is why these numbers are so strong. This company, unlike any other in this space, has been anticipating, planning and innovating for the business communications industry evolution. It is ready to lead the way. I said it before and will say it again: what’s happening now in the industry is not a surprise to those who have vision, it’s an opportunity.