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.

 

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Avaya’s 2017 Tech Trends to Watch: the Distinguished Dozen

With the Age of Intelligence fully underway, 2017 is destined be a landmark year for mobility, data and very cheap hardware. Here are Avaya’s 12 trends to watch in 2017 and the impacts they could have on life as we know it.

  1. Customers and business executives demand one-click collaboration on all devices.

    For decades, contact center agents have quietly dealt with cobbled together desktops that force them to click through as many as 18 different applications during one customer service call. The notion of one-and-done (one phone call, no transfers, problem solved) in the contact center isn’t always true from an agent experience perspective. Mobile employees, on the other hand, don’t have the same level of patience or tolerance, especially going into 2017.

  2. The rise of Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) in recent years is enabling businesses to utilize the cloud to embed foundational team engagement functions such as IM, presence, and click-to-call into cloud applications. With these functions just a click away, mobile employees can be more productive than ever. No more time spent searching for a meeting invite, opening the invite, clicking on a link, entering a passcode—all of which are doable on a mobile phone but create a cumbersome experience. The functions can be embedded into and then launched from within a cloud-based CRM application such as salesforce.com, making the experience from any device much more efficient and simply better.

    The CPaaS market in 2015 was valued at $400 million and is expected to reach $8.1 billion in 2019. The one-and-done, click-to-collaborate generation of mobile employees is here to stay.

  3. A CIO and a CMO walk into a bar….

    CIO vs. CMO is no longer a battle, it’s on its way to becoming the most strategic partnership in the c-suite. With the ease and free availability of cloud applications throughout the recession, CMOs and their scrappy marketing teams tasked with building sales funnels to drive business with little to no budget learned quickly the power of the cloud. Cloud-available marketing tools and applications that were free to download and trial for a limited time enabled the marketing department to easily bypass the CIO as they built out their cloud-based toolkit and efficient processes. When the time came to begin having budget discussions again, the CMO had results-driven use cases that provided a solid argument for the marketing department to be awarded a good chunk of the IT budget.

  4. That was 2010. This is 2017.

    Now, with customers and employees using a variety of mobile channels to communicate with enterprises and engage teams of people to get work done, the value of communications is more noticeable than ever, as is the CMO’s influence on IT purchases. But with the growing enterprise security concerns coupled with the need for real-time, pervasive analytics that are everywhere across the enterprise, it’s time for a truce.

    The CMO can no longer rebel alone but the CIO can also no longer be the sole purveyor of all things IT. By partnering and gaining a greater understanding and appreciation for each other’s roles and objectives, these two technology-driven leaders have the opportunity to redefine how business gets done when real time, contextual communications and quality of user experience are at the forefront of all IT purchase decisions.

  5. Internet of Everything causes segmentation to combat ransomware.

    Ransomware can prevent the user from using their computer and accessing data. The computer and its data are held “hostage,” under complete control of a hacker, until a ransom is paid to the hacker. What happens when the computer is a glucose monitor? Or wireless ultra sound monitor? Or a pacemaker? The Medical Internet of Things has become just another vast playground for hackers to manipulate with the intent to profit. Unlike a company’s enterprise infrastructure or a smart phone, when hackers break into medical devices, lives are literally at stake, which drives up the ransom that can range from hundreds of dollars to thousands to regain access to a computer, network and/or files.

  6. Any Internet of Things poses a huge security risk, more so than the average computer on a network. Most objects in the new connected world are developed with minimal security features making them very vulnerable endpoints. It’s incumbent upon the network to provide the utmost level of security needed for each object: Enter segmentation.

    Network segmentation separates the network into secure zones that allow IoT devices to be separated from standard IT devices and applications. If an IoT device is hacked, it’s only the devices in that zone that are threatened. The zone and its contained devices are easily identifiable for immediate reaction to the security breach.

  7. Financial industry to drive innovation as financial customer experience goes mobile.

    Mobile is not just a form factor, it is a different experience. Mobile financial services are becoming more context-aware and going beyond replacing the basics you can do on a web site. While the mobile, financial services customer experience has been cumbersome and time-consuming with passwords, codes and security questions, advances in context-aware computing will enable the mobile customer experience to be on par with other mobile experiences.

  8. Biometric technologies such as voice authentication, fingerprint and facial recognition are ready for prime time and banking institutions are ready. Barclays was one of the early adopters of voice authentication. Executives at Barclays report that customer satisfaction has improved significantly with the simple acknowledgement that many of their customers wanting mobile experiences and providing a secure option.

    With context-aware computing for banking, financial and insurance on target to grow from $3.25 billion in 2013 to $13.8 billion in 2018, 2017 is shaping up to be a very pivotal year for mobile customer experience in financial services.

  9. Blockchain goes mainstream.

    Blockchain is not just for cryptocurrency anymore. In fact, most of blockchain deployments will be in the security and fraud areas, and expect fintech to massively use it. It will also change how payments are made.

  10. Blockchain is the underpinning technology of digital currency bitcoin. Today, more than 40 top financial institutions and companies across a number of industries are testing this distributed ledger technology as a trusted way to track the ownership of assets without the need for a central authority. This could speed up transactions and cut costs while lowering the chance of fraud.

    Considering the rise in security hacks and fraud cases worldwide, this is an important step for fintech (A term that is applied to a segment of start-ups that is developing truly disruptive technology such as mobile payments, money transfers, loans, asset management). Typically any technology experimented with by fintech is destined to trigger a cultural shift, driving permanent change to our daily lives.

  11. The team collaboration battle heats up.

    Reaping the benefits of team engagement and collaboration has been a struggle with siloed applications for content creation and sharing, project management, document management, and real time interactions. But when the results of using these tools show an increase in productivity is up to almost 13% and 97% of businesses say they use these tools to better serve their customers more efficiently, the hope for collaboration nirvana is still very much alive.

  12. In 2017, we will see more opportunities for businesses to redefine their team engagement workflows and improve their productivity with a single platform containing a family of intelligently integrated collaboration applications. “Silos be gone” will be the battle cry of those seeking true team engagement and collaboration tools, and their cries will finally be answered.

  13. Big data analytics 3.0 creates demand for skilled work force, practical uses.

    Enterprise IT adoption of big data analytics grows and creates demand for services. While machine learning can yield enormous benefits, data scientists will still be needed to understand what to model and improve. Machines are good at manipulating huge data sets, which people handle with difficulty. People are good at understanding causality, which an area machines struggle with.

  14. Who are these masters of data? Harvard Business Review reported that data scientist is the sexiest job of the 21st That article appeared in 2012. Today, the need for data scientists is greater than ever because the amount of data being generated is greater than ever and growing. Add to that, the fact that machines are smarter but still need supervision and guidance, it’s clear that the demand for data scientists is not going away. Companies need these scientists who are not only curious about “what if,” but also have the skills and knowledge to analyze thousands of petabytes of data that reside in all forms of rows and numbers, and can mashup data to analyze it in a way never imagined.

    In 2017, with the tremendous increase in data needing analyzed, more companies will begin training data-focused employees to become the skilled data scientists that are greatly needed.

  15. ID please.

    Business and consumer demand for apps on devices continues to drive the need for security and strategies for managing information. Beyond securing big data is the additional need of securing identity data.

  16. Identity data is different than the data consumers are accessing when engaging with apps. With the number of apps growing faster than the number of people, securing identity data on each and every app is an added consideration for companies developing apps as well as companies selectively utilizing apps for customer engagement.

    As companies continue their efforts to digitally transform in 2017, this process will shine an even brighter spotlight on the need for modernizing security, in particular identity access management systems. Companies must abandon their legacy identity security tools and begin deploying new systems that are highly scalable and equipped with high-end encryption enable a high quality user experience as well as the best security.

  17. Customer service scores take on new importance.

    Poor quality costs businesses billions each year. IT managers must focus on culture, analytics, and best practices to reduce risk and losses. Peer reviews, social media posts will be analyzed integrated in real time in customer experience strategies, as opposed to being reviewed periodically. Like high frequency trading changed the brokerage industry, high frequency customer segmentation will create new revenue opportunities for the innovators.

  18. The ability to segment customers enables companies to identify specific areas of interest, likes, and dislikes—and plan communications strategies that are then customized, more personalized and therefore, more likely to be accepted, not rejected. The ongoing challenge is that consumer choice and always-on access to multiple choices has changed how consumers think and react to information and buying opportunities. Consumers, led by the millennial generation, are more open to trying new things, seeking alternative choices.

    Add to this, the growing need for speed and sense of urgency, and obtaining and then maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction no longer has little to nothing to do with brand loyalty. Rather, it has to do with how quickly a company can become aware of when a customer tries something new and different, and then segment that customer accordingly.

    In 2017, the opportunity for real-time predictive analytics in the main customer service touch point, the contact center, is now. As customer segmentation must be done faster and in real time, so must the analysis of all the real-time customer data. With digital transformation knocking down siloes across the enterprise, the contact center’s ability to gain access to real time customer data and gain predictive incite to create better, relevant customer experiences is more real than ever.

  19. Looking for a driverless ride?

    Future generations will not have to take driver’s education. With its low-latency, high performance, ultra-reliable capabilities of the 5G mobile network is the ability for telecommunications companies to power machine-type innovations. This is the network that has the greatest capacity for enabling self-driving cars and the Internet of Things. The 5G is expected to be widely available by 2020.

  20. More than two dozen corporations are already working on self-driving cars from Google, to Apple, to Bosch, to Mercedes, to Tesla. General Motors has made two significant acquisitions in this area—Sidecar’s assets and Cruise Automation—and invested $500M in Lyft. The American auto manufacturer plans to have self-driving taxis ready for testing with Lyft in 2017.

    With safety being the number one priority for the companies doing the research and development as well as the regulators, the current expectation is that autonomous cars will be generally available by 2025.

    It’s quite possible that kids born as recent as 2010 will not have to take driver’s education. No more Driving Miss Daisy, she’ll be able to have her own ride all to herself.

  21. Drone dreaming goes sky high.

    Drones are one of the most popular new forms of information gathering available. Surveillance, public safety, agriculture and inspection are the use cases transforming drones from a high-flying hobby to a strategic business improvement and communications application.

  22. Similar to autonomous cars, drone performance is expected to excel with wider availability of the fifth generation mobile network. Whether equipped with video cameras to transport real-time, live video and images from a disaster back to public safety officials, or a fleet of drones conducting a crop survey, or a building or oil rig inspection, drones provide the missing, middle-ground view between satellite imagery and ground-level.

    For enterprises, the opportunities to incorporate drone technology into business communications and re-imagine traditional industries is very real. Price Waterhouse Coopers reported that the commercialization of drones in vertical industries ranging from construction to insurance could lead to a $125B disruption. The expectation is that drones can improve business with new found operational efficiencies as well a capital expenditure improvements not previously ever envisioned, let alone realized.

  23. A robot and a human walk into a bar…?

    When the use of robots, also known as artificial intelligence, in the workplace to improve productivity and save companies money initially made headlines decades ago, primarily for assembly line work, redundant tasks. The reality was that the technology wasn’t mature enough to act without human intervention. The attitude of the average person was: Leave working with robots to the scientists and Hollywood, why would I ever interact with a robot?

  24. Enter the Age of Intelligence. Perhaps a more appropriate description here is the Age of Technological Maturity and Acceptance. Robots and average people have matured enough to co-exist. Technology has reached the point where it is proven that robots can be programmed to perform tasks with 100% or better accuracy. The simplicity of the user experience, whether programming or interacting with a robot, has made the use of robots something the average person can not only relate to, but in 2017, will find they can’t live without.

    In various industries such as health sciences, military and public safety, robotics and automation are improving human lives. In the most digitally advanced hospitals, robots are helping reduce the risks of infections of workers by disinfecting patient and operating rooms. They are programmed to work in labs to draw blood, dispense medications, deliver meals, all while moving among people using elevators and automatic doors.

    Looking at military and public safety, human first responders and human-operated responders are working together. Using a robot to enter a highly dangerous area such as a burning building to look for survivors, investigate a bomb threat, enter a hazardous waste spill or investigate a hostage situation are scenarios where more human lives are saved.

    Will a robot and a human ever walk into a bar in 2017? Princess Leia would certainly want us to believe it’s possible.

Looking Ahead

As the above trends come to fruition in 2017 in various ways, so will the need for IT teams to be ready for change.

Change is inevitable in every company in order to survive as evidenced by the number of digital transformation projects going on in companies of all sizes worldwide. Add to this the fact that traditional industries will continue to be disrupted, the need for change is greater than ever.

In 2017, IT organizations will be challenged more than ever to keep up with ongoing change while balancing the need for greater security with the ability to deliver secure change with a sense of urgency.

Review our eBook of Avaya’s 2017 Technology Trends anytime.