Bring-Your-Own… Unified Communications

Let’s get this out of the way: “Bring your own device” won’t save your company money.

Sure, BYOD lets your IT department avoid the upfront costs and hassle of arming your employees with smartphones and tablets (that based on past track record, they probably wouldn’t have liked, anyway).

But there’s still management and security software to deploy, Wi-Fi networks to upgrade, and potentially new mobile-savvy IT staffers to hire. None of that is cheap.

According to Aberdeen Group, it could cost your company an extra $170 per device PER YEAR to go BYOD compared to an internal rollout.

But get over your sticker shock quickly, because you’re not going to stop the mobile invasion of the enterprise. Not when Windows, which as recently as 2005 held 96 percent of the global computing device market, now holds just one-third. iPhones, iPads, and Android devices like Samsung Galaxy S3s together hold nearly half, according to super-analyst Mary Meeker.

So in a post-PC era, how should your business play the game? Not by employing a defensive mindset, i.e., fixating on ways to minimize spending. Rather, think about how you can transform your organization with the latent capabilities of these pocket rockets in order to reap the greatest ROI. That’s how you play to WIN.

Take Deventer Hospital of the Netherlands. When it centralized various locations into a brand-new hospital in 2008, Deventer also deployed a robust, scalable network based around Avaya virtual networking gear. That not only securely accommodated the sudden influx of iPad-toting visitors and medical staffers, but also leveraged the iPad in two ways. First, doctors and nurses can now be quickly reached on their mobile devices anywhere in the building. Second, doctors and nurses can use an app on their iPads to pull up patient medical records that aid in explaining symptoms and other health issues to patients. Both of these help boost the quality of care in huge ways.

“Two years ago, a setup like this wouldn’t have even entered my mind,” says Ko Takema, head of ICT at Deventer Hospital.

According to the Radicati Group, mobility is the “primary driver for innovation and adoption in the UC market.” Powerful smartphones are “driving corporate demand for UC solutions to support an increasingly mobile workforce,” while features such as voicemail-to-text, fixed-mobile convergence, and mobile presence have become “popular and reliable features” for end users.

COMMfusion analyst Blair Pleasant agrees. “The growth of the mobile workforce has led to the need for workers to communicate regardless of their location or device,” she says. In part due to growth in UC on tablets, Pleasant predicts that the global market for premises-based UC-capable gear will grow from $12.23 billion in 2011 to $20.76 billion in 2016—an impressive compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17 percent.

No wonder that 57 percent of firms not using UC today are planning or considering a mobile UC deployment, according to a 2012 Frost & Sullivan report, while 82 percent of firms using unified communications today plan to keep or boost their usage of mobile UC apps.

Opportunities for Transformation
An even more impressive example than Deventer Hospital is the Essa Academy, an urban secondary school in the U.K. whose tech-centric classrooms have returned impressive gains in student achievements and are being hailed as “one of the biggest revolutions in learning the state education system has seen in decades,” according to The Independent newspaper.

Besides transforming its classrooms, Essa wanted to transform how its staff communicated. Having already invested in 1,500 iPads and iPod devices for students and teachers as well as an upgraded Wi-Fi network, Essa leaders saw that they could upgrade to a powerful new unified communications platform and save money.

Using Avaya Aura® as the foundation, and the Avaya one-X® Communicator and one-X Mobile SIP for iOS apps to deliver voice over Wi-Fi to faculty devices, Essa was able to slash its telephony costs and improve collaboration, says Essa Director Abdul Chohan. He credits integrator Pennine Telecom for its success.

“Every staff member has their own number and can be contacted on the same device so the need for landlines disappears,” he reports. “The beauty of it— and when we say this people are in awe—is that staff can be contacted by a parent directly on their iPad … It also means that we have some phenomenally productive conversations happening. Teachers can ring each other at no cost throughout the day.”

In addition to these softphones, Essa is rolling out Avaya’s Flare® Communicator to all students and teachers so that they have easy “swipe-of-the-finger” access to essential communications tools, including videoconferencing, IM, presence, managed social media, email, and more via their mobile devices.

That’s key. High-definition mobile video may indeed prove to be the killer app of mobile UC. See the great discussions by my colleagues writing in the “Video” section of this book. But voice, IM, social media, and other channels also see their value skyrocket when extended to “anytime, anywhere” devices. So if you’re an enterprise going mobile, make sure you invest in all of your collaboration channels. The benefits you’ll reap will astound you.

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This article, by Gary E. Barnett, originally appeared on the Altura Blog, and is reprinted with permission.

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Avaya Named a Leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure

Avaya is honored to be recognized as a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure worldwide. Avaya has been the only vendor having the distinction of being named a Leader for 16 consecutive years. Each year the research organization creates a market view of key players for business users, reflecting business goals, needs, and priorities.

Contact centers have gone beyond phone calls with customers now expecting to communicate on their terms via text, IM, email, chat or video. For the past 16 years Avaya has created seamless and highly personalized experiences, building brand loyalty for companies all around the world.

According to Deloitte, 85% of organizations view customer experience provided through contact centers as a competitive differentiator. Todays companies must remain relevant by creating a single interface to connect customers with the correct resource each time, supporting their preferences. Supervisors and managers need real-time performance information to adapt immediately to situations to ensure optimized customer experience.

Avaya has focused its efforts on creating next-generation contact center solutions, creating communication strategies enabling a continuous transition between channels during customer interactions.

Please visit Gartner’s page to read the full report and see how Avaya’s Contact Center infrastructure continues to deliver best-of-breed Contact Center applications. We look forward to continuing innovation and leading business communications for the digital age.


Seeing into the Office of the Future

Dubai is heavily focused on delivering on its Smart City goals, with the goal of being among the smartest—and happiest—cities in the world. The drive toward smart cities is part of a wider shift, with countries around the globe seeing a migration from rural areas to urban. With more than half the world’s population now living in cities, organizations in the Middle East are facing increasingly difficult decisions about how they allocate resources and manage their workforce.

For a city like Dubai, that can be challenging. Finding the right real-estate location for office space, managing energy usage and providing physical workspaces for employees working different shifts in a modern, 24X7 city creates its fair share of headaches. Enterprises also have to cope with an increasing Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) culture, with smartphone and device penetration especially high in the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf countries.

We have reached an inflection point where the number of devices connected and generating data is accelerating at an exponential level. Our work environments are beginning to blur, as workspaces are no longer physical but virtual. Organizations need to deliver a consistent work experience whether in an office or on the road, or at home. The key driver is to intuitively connect not only communications devices, but interact with the ambient technologies that surround us, like lighting, BMS and signage.

At Avaya, we believe that the Smart Enterprise is one of the key building blocks for smart cities—and one of the foundations of true Smart Enterprise development will be what we term the Office of the Future. This is about more than just technology; the Office of the Future involves automating work processes within the enterprise to deliver a more intuitive employee experience. As with any “smart” solution, the Office of the Future is only smart if it resolves the challenges it aims to address.

So what do we mean by Office of the Future? Imagine walking into a new office you’ve never visited before and your work station is ready before you sit down, configured to your preferences, right down to the air conditioning settings and digital signage displayed with your identity. When a client arrives to meet you at the office, they can be sent to a meeting room automatically, and you can talk to them on their mobile as you walk to greet them.

With Avaya solutions, the act of an employee booking a workspace would kick start a workflow that immediately sets up that space with all communication devices enabled and connected securely, while interacting with the building management system to ensure the environment was set to the employee’s requirements, everything from lighting to temperature to digital signage. The employee could be identified by their phone or a card ID. When they leave, the workspace can be reset for the next employee that reserves it.

Such Smart workspaces will help enterprises manage their resources more effectively, better leverage their real estate investments, and improve employee well-being and productivity. Here in Dubai, the Office of the Future starts now.

89% of Employees Apparently Don’t Care About Mobile Security

Mobile Security Avaya

IT security has a big job: keep corporate data safe in the face of motivated hackers and unaware employees. Today that job is harder than ever — employees are bringing their own devices and applications into the office every morning, and walking out the door with corporate data every night.

The intention behind Bring Your Own Device and Bring Your Own Apps is good: Employees want to be productive away from the office. No one wants to carry around two smartphones, or truck around two laptops while they’re on the road. Cloud-based work apps excel at document version control, are accessible everywhere, and help teams cut down on email as a collaboration tool.

The reality of BYOD and BYOA is more troublesome: If your company is one of the estimated 26 percent with no official BYOD policy in place, employees will load work email and work documents on their personal mobile devices anyway. If a company fails to give their employees the cloud-based apps they want, they’ll simply use the app’s consumer-grade version. Thousands of unsecured laptops and smartphones get lost or stolen every week. It’s estimated that 43 percent of U.S. companies have experienced a data breach in the last year alone.

Troubling numbers

Given that backdrop, ask yourself — how many mobile devices are out there with your company’s data on them? The answer might surprise you.

In a recent survey of more than 12,000 people, security software maker Kaspersky Lab found roughly half used personal smartphones, tablets or laptops for work, 36 percent kept work files on their personal devices, 34 percent accessed work-related email from personal devices, and somewhere between 11 to 18 percent carried around corporate passwords.

Asked about it, just 11 percent said they were seriously concerned about keeping work-related information secure on their personal mobile devices.

If your company doesn’t have formal policies in place around personal mobile devices, chances are, your corporate data is already heading home with employees each night. BYOD and BYOA are just the start— Bring Your Own Everything is on the horizon.

Embracing the present

The first step is to either build a BYOD and BYOA policy, or review your existing policies to keep them up-to-date.

Employees are already using their own devices and apps inside the workplace — in an April 2015 report, Netskope found the average organization is now using 730 cloud-based applications. If that number seems high, it may be time to audit the software your teams are using, and determine if sensitive corporate information is at risk of being lost in the cloud.

Next, give employees the secure tools they need to use the devices and apps they choose. Different teams may choose different engagement software based on their individual needs. Mandating the entire company standardize on a single, monolithic software platform or official device is unrealistic, and may encourage “shadow IT,” where teams ignore official channels and adopt the tools that work for them.

Information silos are dangerous. At best, silos hinder company engagement by preventing teams from getting the information they need to make informed decisions easily. At worst, silos force employees to kluge together a solution — for example, emailing data across the company in spreadsheets.

Breaking information silos apart is possible with software like the Avaya Engagement Development Platform, which allows companies to write custom code that either communication-enables their existing apps, or builds new apps to share data between silos.

Lastly, smart companies adopt multiple layers of security, knowing that data breaches are just as likely to come from within the company than without.  Firewalls are not enough — network access must be segmented and role-based.

In a widely-publicized data breach last year, a major U.S. retailer admitted it had lost millions of consumer credit card numbers after it gave its HVAC vendor access to wide swaths of the company’s corporate network. Hackers breached the vendor, and used their network credentials to raid the retailer’s credit card database, which was sitting in a section of the network that an HVAC company should not have been able to access.

Virtualized, software-defined networking makes role-based network access easy, reduces the size of the network’s footprint of endpoints and obscures portions of the network from hackers. Individual devices, applications and endpoints are provisioned dynamically, with network access extending and retracting as needed.

BYOD and BYOA represent the new reality for enterprises. Take proactive steps to review your company’s BYOD and BYOA policies, give employees the tools to allow this trend, share information securely between applications and gain more control over the corporate network.

Want more? Download the new Avaya white paper, “The New Rules of Engagement.”