Enterprise Connect 2014: Mark Massingham on Innovation in IP Office Contact Centers

At Enterprise Connect 2014, Avaya has focused on solutions into the midmarket–roughly defined as businesses with 5,000 employees or less.

As part of our ongoing coverage of Enterprise Connect, I sat down with Mark Massingham, Senior Manager of Avaya’s Midmarket Segment Marketing team, to talk about how we’re innovating in that space.

Matt Young: So, Mark, what’s going on in the midmarket? It’s seeing a lot of growth.

Mark Massingham: It’s an interesting space. Midmarket is the fastest-growing segment and a huge focus for Avaya. IP Office has been around a long time and we’ve got a bunch of business partners who sell it. The R&D dollars are going toward using IP Office to expand Avaya’s innovation into the midmarket itself.

So now IP Office has got that traction–it certainly has the architecture–and now is a full collaboration suite. Only a few vendors can do this. One unique attribute of Avaya is we can do it with a solution from a single vendor.

IP Office has our core, but it also has that solution set surrounding it and supporting video, high-capacity audio conferencing, networking solutions, switching solutions, security, and so on.

So we’re going to be showing the IP Office Contact Center, which is the last piece of the puzzle.

This is a multichannel contact center solution for IP Office. Now we have the full surround–everything a midmarket customer could need from a single vendor, Avaya–in a multichannel contact center solution.

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MY: So companies have been using ad hoc solutions in lieu of a unified approach?

MM: I don’t think they’ve really had the option until now for an all-in-one. They’ve had to do things piecemeal, where a vendor will have to bring in strategic partners to add in that particular component. We’re in the enviable position of being able to offer that.

MY: Can you talk about Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), and how that’s an important metric for midmarket customers?

MM: As you get into the midmarket, it’s more about TCO than ROI. It’s about having simplified administration in one solution, rather than in those piecemeal parts.

You’ve got all these bits and pieces. “What are they gonna cost me to own outside of just the buying piece? What do I need to invest over time?”

There are a lot of variables, and you’ve got to prove that you have low TCO, so it’s going to be, “How much of my IT’s time is going to be taken doing daily moves, adds and changes? Is it 15 minutes or is it three hours?”

Then you have more concrete TCO. With IP Office, you can say that to add new users will take five minutes, while a competing vendor is going to take you 20 minutes. It’s time-saving. It’s about a more overarching picture.

MY: What are the logistics in getting the value of Avaya solutions across to our midmarket customers?

MM: When you talk to a small business, you’re normally talking to the business owner. They’re the ones that are making the decisions. If you’re talking about no more than 50 users, you’re going to be talking to the business owner.

When you get into the midmarket, the buying decisions shift. You’re more likely to go into senior executives and IT people. It’s moving away from the business owner and more into the line of business managers and senior execs, so you’re now one line removed from the overarching decision maker as well.

As they get bigger, they’re going to rely more on customer referencing and professional demonstrations with executives going in and demonstrating. It’s a harder sell, and there’s going to be more of a lead time. Midmarket achievers are going to want more “proof-points.”

MY: What are the trends you’re seeing in the segment? What are the greatest areas of growth?

MM: The biggest areas of growth are mobility and the mobile workforce. Having the mobile workforce is crucial and figuring BYOD out as well.

Now, contact centers are the fastest-growing trend in the midmarket, which is the fastest-growing segment. Multimedia/multi-channel is a need, a must, and we’re supporting that with IP Office Contact Centers.