Mobility: Teleworking Solutions for the Mobile Employee

A teleworker is a knowledge worker, task worker or contact center agent who works from home, either on a regular or casual basis. As noted in a previous article, (See Mobility: It’s More Than Just Apps!) teleworking is just one use case for mobility.

The objective of teleworker solutions is to extend the same breadth of enterprise-grade voice, video, IM, presence, content sharing and conferencing services that are available for desk workers to those working from home–recognizing that teleworkers are using public networks that may be less secure, less reliable and have less bandwidth than enterprise networks.

Avaya solutions for teleworkers can eliminate the need for (and expense associated with) dedicated lines coming into the home strictly for enterprise use. This carries two major benefits: It reduces or eliminates home office expenses by the company, and ensures business continuity–keeping people operational during a disruption caused by dangerous weather, labor strikes, health pandemics, etc.

Here are some ideas for keeping people productive while working at home:

  • Avaya SIP deskphones establish a secure connection via the Avaya Session Border Controller (SBC) for Enterprise, while H.323 deskphones have built-in VPN software to allow them to connect securely.
  • Avaya UC users (using Avaya Communicator, Avaya one-X, Avaya Client Applications for Microsoft Lync) and Avaya CC users (using Avaya one-X Agent, Avaya Aura Agent Desktop) operating in SIP mode connect via the SBC, while clients using H.323 connect to the enterprise once a VPN connection has been made on the PC.
  • Avaya VDI Communicator and VDI Agent allow knowledge workers and contact center agents to connect to the data center over a VPN connection. This enables teleworkers to establish connectivity to the data center without the need to use corporate data on local machines outside enterprise boundaries. If connection to the data center is lost, survivability capabilities in VDI Communicator provide continuous communications for users.
  • Where home Internet service may be unreliable and not suitable for using VoIP, Avaya UC and CC clients can operate in a “dual connect” mode where call control is through the client, and the voice path for inbound and outbound calls is directed to the home number. When operating in this mode, only the enterprise number is evident to the user’s contacts. In the event of an Internet failure during a call, the voice path remains available, even though call control is lost. This is a critical requirement for contact center agents, sales associates and knowledge workers where dropped calls would be unacceptable.
  • Teleworkers who host conference calls risk an interruption to many people should they lose service and the conference gets shut down, knocking everyone off the bridge. An Avaya Aura Conferencing or Avaya Scopia host can enable the conference to continue should they lose connectivity. This keeps the meeting running, giving the host the time to rejoin the meeting.
  • Full-time teleworkers may feel disconnected from the rest of the organization. Avaya Aura Conferencing and Scopia audio, web, and video conferencing solutions allow users to feel connected to their management, peers and internal organization, as well as to partners and clients.

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Innovation that Accounts for Increased Mobility

Today Avaya announced Avaya Mobile Experience, an innovative offer initially targeted at enterprise contact centers to help them expand the range of digital interactions for their customers, as well as to accelerate the velocity of their digital transformation. Personally, it is a special day for me as I’ve been driving towards this vision and offer for more than a couple of years. There is a strong development-minded and innovation-oriented team at Avaya delivering this new offer to the market.

With the Avaya Mobile Experience, we pose the question: Is there a way for enterprises to take advantage of the rising number of mobile phones—many of which are smart phones—being used to call into contact centers today, that creates a better experience for the customer and greater cost efficiencies for the enterprise?  The answer is a resounding, YES! And here’s how.

Unlike products Avaya has introduced into the marketplace such as Contact Center Elite or Avaya Aura Contact Center, Avaya Mobile Experience is different. It is different because it is not a product, rather it is a service.  The service is rendered from software that sits on the newly created Avaya Cellular Business Network . There are three main elements to this service:

  • Carrier-scale Mobile Core
  • Pay-as-you-go Mobile Network
  • Software assets that sit atop the mobile network

Given Avaya’s leadership and legacy in enterprise communications, we found a willing and energetic mobile partner. We partnered to source a carrier-scale Mobile Core and the pay-as-you-go Mobile Network. The Mobile Experience software that then sits atop the network was created in-house by Avaya. All together, these elements make up the Avaya Cellular Business Network.

How Does Avaya Mobile Experience work?

This pay-per-consumption service starts by first identifying whether a call destined for a number owned by the subscribing enterprise originated from a wireless network or not.

If it is from a wireline network—a landline phone—then it is treated like an ordinary inbound call attempt. However if the call is recognized by the Avaya Cellular Business Network to be from a cellular network, then we can provide special treatment and add contextual information about the call as pre-programmed by the enterprise.

An example of a special treatment the enterprise might offer is the ability to automatically move the mobile callers to a lower cost, more fit for purpose digital channel.  In this case the caller would be asked if they would like a smart phone web or app experience. If the answer is yes, then the caller will be sent a personalized (text) message containing a link to an app or webpage for them to click on and access the information they are calling about. At this point, with the customer now connected to the business via self-service text and web channels, the voice portion of the call terminates automatically. What would have been an expensive voice self-service interaction will be an inexpensive and more satisfying digital self-service interaction with Avaya Mobile Experience. This advances that enterprise’s digital transformation adoption.

If in the course of the digital interaction, the caller still wants to interact with a real person, then the web or app can escalate to real-time media be it voice, video, or screen share (or even co-browse with an agent) giving the customer a mobile, omnichannel experience.

Added Context for Better Customer Experiences

Likewise, when the mobile caller does not want to use the mobile web or an app, then they may be offered a segmentation menu via voice recognition. After selection, the caller will be routed to the contact center via a SIP trunk. However, unlike traditional carrier SIP services, with Avaya Mobile Experience the routing of the mobile customer will include added context that is encapsulated in a special SIP method, known as a MIME attachment.

Additionally by interacting with the cellular network the caller is using, Avaya Mobile Experience verifies the authenticity of the phone’s number and knows about the phone’s home geography. This increases the fidelity of that context. Geographic routes are more effective from the core as a result. Also caller-ID is far less likely to be spoofed. These benefits extend to contact centers universally irrespective of vendor technology.

The added context of the MIME attachment helps the contact center better service the customer. There is no restriction of how the context is consumed. The MIME attachment can be consumed by an SBC or SIP router and then used to influence CTI methods to add context to the call. A modern Avaya Contact Center, for example, might use a Breeze Snap-in for such a purpose.

The net effect is that the contact center can now better service the mobile caller. It helps propel the digital transformation of the contact center and the enterprise. Avaya already has many patents pending for this innovation, and the approach allows us to apply methods for other scenarios that will also reduce friction between the customer and businesses serving them.

Wait! There’s More!

We are also announcing an Identity as a Service solution. This service helps solve the ever-growing problem of ensuring that the person on the other end of the connection is exactly who you need them to be.

As with Avaya Mobile Experience, Identity as a Service also has a no friction adoption method that means consumption billing for what is used, no long term commitments, and a very easy and compelling pricing structure.   And we have other ideas that expand into the Unified Communication space and even payment facilitation. Whenever you wonder whether it truly is a new day at the newly public Avaya, just check out our innovations. We are here to reduce the friction of innovation and transformation.

Your Avaya Developer Journey Starts Here

STEM. Hackathons. Hour of Code. Oh, my…

I’ve been in the developer and ecosystem space pretty much my entire career, and I can’t recall a time when there was a greater focus on strengthening and expanding skills in software development with new audiences. I’m excited to see Avaya making such efforts across our Team and Customer Engagement portfolios with new and expanded APIs, toolkits, and supporting educational materials for Avaya Breeze, Avaya Oceana, and Avaya Vantage.

Start Your Own Journey—It’s Free!

Many of our customers are aware of the value of the DevConnect “Compliance Tested” designation used by our DevConnect Technology Partners to indicate the proven interoperability of their products. But you may not realize that DevConnect isn’t just a testing and partner program. It’s a full-fledged and open developer program for all types of developers looking to leverage Avaya technology. You can freely browse all our developer content and it takes just a few seconds to register when you want to download a specific SDK. And it doesn’t cost you anything to do this.

For example, we’ve added online developer documentation and code samples like integrating Desk Phone Services into custom applications using Avaya Breeze™ Client SDK, which applies to Android-based mobile devices. And to go alongside that, we’ve expanded our Forum Boards to include discussions on developing custom clients for the Avaya Vantage™ Device, as well as made available a full set of source code for a basic Vantage client using the Breeze Client SDK.

But Wait… There’s More!

With the introduction of the Avaya Breeze™ Platform and the Avaya Oceana™ Solution, Avaya’s made available even more resources for developers to leverage in the form of Avaya Collaboratory and the Avaya Snapp Store.

Avaya Collaboratory provides cloud-based, fully configured developer environments to support jump-starting your projects and evaluating the powerful capabilities of Avaya Breeze and the Avaya Breeze Client SDK. Whether building snap-ins using the Java SDK for Avaya Breeze, or learning to create complex workflows in Avaya Engagement Designer, a Collaboratory environment gives you a full Avaya Aura and Breeze software stack to play around with.

And if you’re looking for additional pre-build snap-ins or workflows, there’s the Avaya Snapp Store. Similar to the DevConnect Marketplace, the Snapp Store highlights a range of Avaya-build and third-party snap-ins for Avaya Breeze or Avaya Oceana environments. Some snap-ins can even be purchased directly from the Snapp Store itself, so you can drop them into your own Collaboratory or Breeze environment in a matter of minutes.

And There’s Even More Coming

We’ve been running some very successful hackathon events around Avaya Breeze, Vantage, and Zang in the past few months, so keep your eyes open for more opportunities to get hands on with new Avaya offers. Note that Avaya Learning has introduced a variety of training courses specifically aimed at Breeze. There are also courses for Avaya Breeze Client SDK developers—on Android and Windows and on iOS and macOS, so Avaya developers can continue to build skills on these new and powerful products.

Keep watching the Avaya Developer blog for deeper insights from key technical leads for many of these products, as well as insight into how our customers and partners are leveraging these new technologies through their own application development efforts.

And even if you aren’t yet ready for the latest and greatest of what Avaya has to offer, visit the DevConnect portal—you may be surprised by what you’ll find for the Avaya products you’re currently using.

Continuous Learning: Propelling Forward in a Rapidly and Inevitably Changing World

Whether we realize it or not, advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality, and the Internet of Things (IoT) have transformed the way we think about the world around us. From how we protect our schools to the way we navigate our streets to how we shop for groceries, such technology now lies at the heart of practically everything we do today.

Just as these technologies have changed the way we live, they have changed the way we work. Today’s rapid pace of innovation has transformed nearly every business task, process, and workflow imaginable—so much so that industry analysts estimate that up to 45% of activities that employees are paid to perform can now be automated.

This digital disruption—or what many are calling the Fourth Industrial Revolution—without question redefines traditional roles and responsibilities. In fact, research shows that in five years, more than one third of skills that are considered important in today’s workforce will have changed. Even more, analysts estimate that 65% of children today will grow up to work in roles that don’t yet exist.

While we do still see employees that specialize in one skill or expertise, we’ve mostly moved away from the days of hiring an employee for just one job. As technology evolves, so too do the skills required to innovate and propel forward. Looking ahead, employees must have a propensity for continuous learning and adopting new skills to be able to recognize and respond to today’s speed of digital change.

Consider how technology has changed the marketing paradigm. As recently as 10 years ago, marketing platforms like Marketo and HubSpot had only just been founded, Facebook was still in its infancy, and the first iPhone had newly hit the market. As technologies like cloud, social, mobile and big data evolved, however, we suddenly began seeing new tools specifically designed to enhance digital media, social media marketing, and mobile marketing. As a result, companies began searching to fill roles for social media coordinators, digital campaign managers and integrated marketing planners—jobs that were unfathomable 15 to 20 years prior.

Fast forward to today and we’re seeing the emergence of new technology for marketing, such as augmented reality, geofencing, and emotion detection. The continual emergence of new technology perpetually creates skills gaps that must be filled by employees who are passionate, motivated, and invested in their own learning. These kinds of team members are committed to developing new skills and leveraging their strengths to outperform.

But not all employees can easily identify their strengths or develop new skills. This is likely why nearly half of employees today feel unengaged at work, with nearly 20% feeling “actively disengaged.” At the same time, companies are struggling to align employee strengths with organizational priorities. Employees may have certain strengths, but employers may find those skills don’t directly increase operational efficiency or performance. This is why nearly 80% of businesses are more worried about a talent shortage today than they were two years ago.

So, what’s the answer? Employees and employers must work together to identify what roles are currently filled, what skills are still needed, and who best exemplifies those skills. For employees, this means taking control of how they grow their careers and improving for the better. For employers, this means displaying an unwavering commitment to employee reinvestment by understanding key areas of interest to effectively fill skills gaps.

At Avaya, for example, we’re leading an employee enablement program under our Marketing 3.0 strategy. The initiative is designed to help strengthen our marketing organization by equipping employees with the right competencies that reflect our culture, strategy, expectations and market dynamics. By doing so, we can ensure we’re recruiting and managing talent in the most strategic way, putting the right people in the right jobs with the abilities to perform at maximum potential every day. By having each marketing function participate in a simple knowledge profile exercise, we can begin objectively determining development opportunities that best meet their needs and the needs of our business.

As technology continuously evolves, it’s crucial that employees have a propensity for continuous learning and that organizations foster an environment for this learning. In the words of former GE CEO Jack Welch, “An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.”

We live in a world that is rapidly and inevitably changing. Employees should embrace this change to thrive, and must if they wish to propel business forward. As employers, we are responsible for strategically leveraging our resources to align employee strengths with organizational needs to succeed in this environment of constant change.