Building Stronger Teams with Video Conferencing

Video conferencing has been a proven technology for years, but was traditionally limited to executive desktops and conference rooms. With today’s democratization of video – thanks to significant advances in quality, reliability and ease of use – knowledge workers are taking advantage of video at their desktops and on their mobile devices. They’re collaborating face-to-face, sharing documents, making faster decisions and improving productivity.

Thanks to enterprise-grade video conferencing, companies are building stronger teams every day. In this blog, I’ll talk about how and why our customers are improving their corporate culture and building stronger teams. I hope reading this blog is enough to convince you to give video conferencing a try. You can try Avaya Scopia for free by clicking here.

Of course with so much opportunity, there are new entrants to the market all the time. The choices can be overwhelming. Last year, I blogged on the different types of video conferencing: Not All Video Conferencing Is Created Equal. I encourage you to read that post for some input on the right solution for your organization.

Driving Adoption
Video conferencing brings people together, and businesses around the globe are discovering new applications for video. In many cases those applications are dramatically changing the way organizations do business – take HR, for example. Video is changing the way companies interact with job candidates. It expands the interview pool for companies looking to hire, and it helps employees collaborate effectively regardless of location. Today, Scopia customers are interviewing new candidates (and even recording and playing those interviews back for hiring managers) and conducting corporate training sessions via video. Video is also used very effectively for mentoring, succession planning, morale boosting, team building, and executive coaching.

Scopia customers are also increasing the frequency of video meetings as they discover the many benefits. Meeting by video frees up time so that participants can have richer and more frequent meetings without surrendering precious time to travel. It helps people collect and exchange information, meet on-the-fly, and enables faster, better decision making. It enhances work-life balance and can save companies money.

Successfully implementing a video solution that achieves these types of results takes careful planning. It’s important to choose an enterprise-grade solution that features HD video and audio, content-sharing, meeting moderation, streaming and recording, chat capabilities, etc. And… it has to be easy to use! Many promising technologies have languished expensively in IT closets because users never embraced them. That is why ease of use needs to be near the top of your list when evaluating solutions.

Easy-to-use means your video solution is intuitive, always on, provides simple, one-click-to-join capabilities, delivers a rich collaborative experience, and doesn’t entail complex licensing or require involvement from your IT team to set up or run a meeting. The Scopia portfolio offers all of this and has for years. Radvision Scopia was a well-kept secret, but thanks to the Avaya acquisition, our brand is quickly gaining traction. People simply have to try it to believe it.

Seeing Is Believing
I’ve seen firsthand since joining Avaya how Scopia video conferencing can bring teams closer together. Since the acquisition closed last June, we’ve attended new-hire training sessions, companywide meetings, and weekly team calls – all via video.

Before Avaya acquired Radvision, video wasn’t a core part of the company’s culture. Now, it’s integral to our formal and informal communication strategy. In fact, since I joined Avaya, I’ve seen teams come together around the globe to create fun and motivational messages using Scopia technology. Some of these are for external consumption, e.g. the recent Tips for a Successful Video Conference. While others are merely to spread some holiday cheer among colleagues – our Americas marketing team has gotten creative with song and dance a number of times, putting smiles on our faces!

Our customers are reaping the benefits as well. One law firm reduced its partner review cycle in half by conducting the meetings over video. Another company achieved a zero-footprint growth strategy for its contact center by hiring all home-based employees connected via video. The opportunities to conduct business more efficiently, be more agile, and collaborate more effectively are endless when your company adopts video conferencing as part of its culture.

Simplifying Video for Everyone
How does Scopia video entice even technophobes to make video part of their daily work lives? With one-click simplicity. It doesn’t matter where you’re calling in from – whether you’re inside an organization or outside of it – or what device you’re using to join the call. Scopia video conferencing takes the guesswork out by automatically detecting the device and network being for each participant. It then leverages the built-in audio and video components on that device, or in the case of a laptop or PC, leverages the optimal connected peripherals like webcams, speakerphones, etc.

In fact, Scopia Mobile is incredibly intuitive. If you ask me, no one makes video conferencing easier than we do. My kids can use it – and so can others according to this YouTube video. When you click on the link to join a call, you automatically download the appropriate application for your device–and you’re in.

All this means that when you deploy Scopia video conferencing in your organization, there is every chance it will quickly go viral. No need to set up training – with our solution, there’s no complex licensing, no searching through app stores for the right download, no confusion on how to share your desktop or an individual application. And Scopia video is secure – you always know who is on a call, and whether anyone new joins or someone drops off.

It’s That Easy
Some might say Scopia video conferencing is a revolutionary approach to video conferencing, but we’ve been doing this since 2007 with Scopia Desktop. And now, with Scopia Mobile, we’ve extended the same ease-of-use to mobile users. Thanks to technologies like Scopia video conferencing, I forget that I haven’t met my colleagues in-person… I’ve spent so many hours on video with some of them, it’s hard to believe we haven’t been in the same room at the same time. We feel like we know each other well after so many video interactions.

If you don’t believe me and haven’t tried Scopia yet, I encourage you to test it out – simply click here and sign up.

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5 Ways to Become an Omnichannel Customer Experience Pro

Consider how much has changed over the last decade in terms of technology and the customer experience (CX). About 10 years ago, the first iPhone would be hitting the U.S. market soon. Social media platforms like Snapchat and Instagram wouldn’t be released until three or four years later. At the time, sophisticated interaction channels like social media, web chat and presence were available to enhance the CX. But, for the most part, businesses weren’t adopting them. And the concept of a platform that seamlessly integrated various channels and devices to deliver consistent, contextual, end-to-end experiences? Not so much.

Looking ahead, one can only imagine how technology will further drive the CX. Gartner’s Chief of Research, Daryl Plummer, seems to have an idea. By 2021, he predicts that:

  • 1 million consumers will be shopping in virtual reality
  • 30% of web browsing sessions will be done without a screen
  • 20% of all activities will involve at least one digital giant (i.e., Apple, Google, Facebook)

Companies are now competing in an era of endless customer touchpoints and possibilities. They’re tasked with matching today’s rapid pace of innovation and also constantly anticipating customers’ evolving needs. This has made the concept of an omnichannel customer experience integral for success. Research shows, however, that companies across the board are still struggling to get omnichannel right. A 2017 study of the retail industry, for example, found that 44% of companies struggle to provide a seamless, omnichannel customer experience. In industries like finance and utilities, this number can be as high as 90%.

At this point, organizations surely know that competitiveness and revenue are driven by an unparalleled omnichannel strategy. So why do we continue to see brands fraught with indecision? Why are so many still challenged in this area? It’s clear that one question remains: what does an effective omnichannel strategy really look like? The way we see it, and the data supports it, there are five ways companies can become omnichannel pros to deliver extraordinary customer experiences:

  1. Create a corporate culture: Arguably, successful transformation goes beyond technology. It is the enterprise’s approach to customer service, a customer culture so to speak. One that begins with understanding the customer journey and that ends with everyone across the business having a priority of exceeding expectations at every point on that journey. A strong corporate culture must be an organizational commitment from the top down.
  2. Eliminate channel silos: 60% of channels today are managed in silos, and nearly 40% of companies have no consistency in how their channels are configured. Most companies believe silo elimination is too difficult to accomplish, yet are still heavily investing in digital communication tools that require complete integration to deliver optimal value. It’s easy to see the problem here.
  3. Integrate systems and processes: The customer relationship is shaped by experiences across all lines of business. Therefore companies need a single view of the customer across all contact points, events, interactions and timelines. Currently, only 42% of companies share customer data organization-wide, and only 38% have integrated disparate systems. While contact center transformation is a must, an omnichannel customer experience should go beyond this one line of business. Consider, for instance, how various back-office applications can be leveraged to deliver truly personalized interactions.
  4. Move at customer speed: 30% of companies admit their service functions don’t meet user needs. Just how many are offering interaction channels that satisfy the needs of their target audience? Better yet, how many can easily and quickly build custom communication apps that meet exact customer needs and continually improve outcomes? When building an omnichannel strategy, application development is just as important as application integration. And customer behaviors change as quickly as a new social media app can emerge.
  5. Take action on data analytics: By “data analytics,” we mean customer journey analytics: data collected across all lines of business to support a powerful, real-time visualization of the customer journey. Almost 60% of companies agree that analytics improves the customer journey, yet 64% have no big data analysis capability that combines data from all knowledge sources (from across the entire enterprise, not just inside the contact center). Customer journey analytics enables organizations to quickly locate and alleviate problem hotspots that impact the CX (something that only 24% of companies today can do) and empowers them with an inherent understanding of how customers are using a combination of channels.

Ten years ago, the concept of an open, integrated, future-proof platform—one that was inherently secure and built to support customers’ continually evolving needs—was nearly inconceivable. Today, this kind of platform is a necessity thanks to technologies like IoT, AI and automation. These technologies have thrust enterprises into a smart, digital world of seemingly limitless CX capabilities … one that’s just getting started.

So, how will your organization measure up 10 years from now? Your level of success will be largely determined by your omnichannel abilities, starting with the contact center. To keep up and stay ahead, check out our conversation with Nancy Jamison Frost & Sullivan Principal Analyst and a new whitepaper “Are You Enabling Extraordinary Customer Journeys?” Take your Contact Center to the Next Level. We’d love to hear what you think.

Be Ready! Six Steps to Take Before a Natural Disaster Hits Your Communications

In what’s shaping up to be an unprecedented hurricane season for the U.S., Avaya wants to ensure that we all review our plans to keep communication systems running at peak performance and stabilized when disaster strikes. Keeping communication systems running often includes a great partner with a deep bench of experts who have experience in many complex situations. Particularly invaluable are battle-tested IT experts who can help rebuild and stabilize communications when disaster strikes. Avaya can engage in a proactive support dialogue to help you avoid complexity from the outset.

Before the Storm

Hurricanes like Harvey and Irma can be catastrophic to businesses. In 2012, Superstorm Sandy caused $65 billion in damage in the U.S., making it the second-costliest weather disaster in American history behind only Hurricane Katrina, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). During the storm, 8,204,220 Americans and thousands of businesses lost power.

No matter the weather (and because the average cost of downtime is $2,700 per minute), it is best to avoid outages by knowing what is most likely to cause communication system outages. According to the research report The Essential Guide to Avoiding Networking Outages, power outages are the leading cause of communications outages. This white paper features an analysis of the top five causes of outages with the percentage of those outages that could potentially have been prevented had leading practices been followed. The top five causes of outages are:

  • Power outages – 74%
  • Lack of routine maintenance – 73%
  • Software bug – 69%
  • Hardware failure – 39%
  • Network issue – 35%

The analysis shows that outages can be avoided by using industry-leading outage prevention practices. Leveraging resources now and on an ongoing basis to determine if facilities can meet power demands and ward off problems is essential. Also, make sure to:

  • Schedule maintenance of systems to avoid what is the high percentage of remediable outages (73%) attributed to poor maintenance and underutilized upkeep.
  • Watch for telltale signs from equipment that a problem is approaching. Proactive health checks, disciplined system monitoring, and observed maintenance schedules can aid in hearing the signal, helping improve the reliability of communications assets.
  • Upgrade equipment approaching end of manufacturing support (EoMS), avoiding the fallout from the over-sweating of assets.
  • Verify system redundancy, system health checks, and failover strategies for critical systems.
  • Patch whenever possible to eliminate software bugs or software-related outages. Some choose to let others occupy the upgrade frontlines and endure potential rollout hiccups, then follow along at a safe interval. This strategy breaks down disastrously when an organization suffers an outage that would have been avoided with a fix that it voluntarily chose to postpone.
  • Draw a network diagram to isolate an outage, speed resolution by illustrating the relationships among pieces of equipment, and isolate that outage!

As a hurricane or other natural disaster approaches, try not to depend on local team members who could be facing challenges of their own at home. Instead, move team members to locations where they can work with clients. When assembling a team, pull from across the organization and leverage readouts at defined intervals.

Pre-Event Checklist

Follow these six steps to prepare before a hurricane—or other disasters—strike:

  1. Save translations before an emergency event impacts the site. This will help ensure that recent changes are not lost and speed restoration in the advent of damage to the system.
  2. Review safety procedures with all employees prior to the emergency event, if possible, and make certain to have an updated contact list to keep in touch.
  3. Secure back-up media so that translations won’t be lost or damaged, thereby delaying restoration of your service. Take a copy of back-ups and any other information off site.
  4. Print and store a current list configuration of key solutions. If a new system is necessary, this simple precaution will save time in starting the process.
  5. Consider powering your system down before the emergency event impacts the site. Electrical power surges both before and after an emergency event can pose the greatest threat to your system.
  6. Contemplate moving switch/applications if the site is located in an area that may be exposed to damage from the emergency.

Taking the above actions can limit risk and help ensure your communications systems make it through a challenging, tough time. Learn more at our Help Center. And if you do have an outage on your Avaya equipment, report it at Support.Avaya.com. Or call 800-242-2121.

In Digital Transformation, Initial Business Discovery is Key

We’ve all heard the saying: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Well, we’d like to put a new-age spin on this: “If an organization implements a digital transformation plan without a strategic plan, does it have an impact?”

The answer: No.

Here’s why this is so concerning: nearly 80% of businesses identified digital transformation as their top strategic priority last year, yet only a fraction have implemented an enterprise-wide digital strategy. Nearly half of CIOs plan to spend 50% or more of their time in digital activities by 2021, yet only 5% feel they’ve mastered digital to a point of competitive differentiation.

It is clear that businesses understand the importance of digital transformation, yet they’re struggling to go from vision to execution. They’re challenged with evolving from legacy hardware to a services-based ecosystem that supports digital drivers like cloud, mobile, big data analytics, and social.

In our experience, the reason for this is because an initial business discovery process was not sufficiently performed to put a strategic execution roadmap in place. Perhaps customer-specific strategies were not as well-defined as intended, or there was a misalignment between business outcomes and technology implementation. Digitization consists of many moving parts, technology, people, processes, etc., making it all too easy for companies to get stuck or lost in the process.

The Impact of Doing Digital Right

Without question, digitization represents massive customer experience, operational, and revenue opportunities. Seizing this opportunity, however, requires transitioning to a services-based approach that targets customer- and vertical-specific needs, especially those related to communications.

I recently spoke with Richard English, Avaya Professional Services Managing Director. English explained how enterprises can bridge a digital gap by engaging in a Discovery Workshop. As an undisputed leader of enterprise communications, Avaya helps countless organizations enhance their operational strategies and customer relationships through this innovative, one-day workshop. He explained how:

A successful discovery uncovers new revenue and CX opportunities by ensuring engagement with and incorporation of executive strategy and goals, operational status, technical assessment and potential economic value. Learning how collaboratively building and delivering a compelling digital business case/roadmap—leveraging Avaya’s knowledge and expertise with you and your business leaders—contributes to overall project success.

English said, “It’s easy to say, ‘Here’s where we’re at today in our current state, and here’s where we want to be in our future state’ … but you need to understand the level of effort [and] the level of cost required to achieve that future state.”

A digital roadmap must be created with an inherent understanding of customer, revenue, technical, people, processes and operational drivers. The initial business discovery process is vital for successfully executing digital transformation, making an exercise like a Discovery Workshop instrumental for organizations today.

Interested in not just creating but executing a successful digital transformation? Check out our eBook, Fundamentals of Digital Transformation. We’re here to help. Let’s make it happen together.