An Introduction to the Avaya Engagement Development Platform

Fletch: Hey, it’s Fletch with the Avaya Podcast Network, and we’re here again live at Avaya Engages Silicon Valley. We’re sitting down with Gary Barnett, the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Engagement Solutions. Welcome to the podcast once again, Gary. Good to have you, as always.

Gary: Good morning. Glad to be back.

Fletch: This is a fantastic event that Avaya’s put on here. It’s a little bit different than what we normally do, right?

Gary: It is, it is. It’s just the combination of talking about products. It’s talking about our direction. It’s talking about what’s happening in the industry, so quite different, quite exciting.

Fletch: It’s all about thought leadership, and I think this is a great example of the thought leadership that we provide. You wrote a blog recently about the enterprise and being ready for open standards. What about that? What do you see as far as that trend goes, and what’s Avaya doing about it?

Gary: We’re in an industry that’s always talked about open standards, but it’s been more about the devices that get connected. For the first time, these environments are now really opening up for true application development, not just connect new devices, but what if I want to write a one-off highly customized application specific to my enterprise?
Virtually impossible in the past.

Probably the best attempt in the ‘90s were good old fashioned CTI. It’s really changed dramatically since then. It’s all about having a robust platform that’s very open–based on standards, tools–that virtually every developer in the world knows how to use. Those developers, now, are getting excited because they get to use those tools they’re familiar with, but they get to communication-enable virtually every application. We’re just finding, one, a lot of excitement, and secondly, a lot of unique use cases.

Fletch: With CTI, it was a pretty standard command language. Pick up the phone, answer the phone, dial a number. Now you’ve got multimedia. You’ve got instant messaging, you’ve got email, you’ve voice technology, you’ve got even video. You can’t possibly know all of those individual technologies.

Gary: That’s exactly it. What’s interesting is we’ve really seen the Engagement Development Platform as not only being open- and standards-based, but a collection of capabilities that can be put together in very unique ways. The way I always like to describe it–and something that developers certainly can easily understand–is that it’s like having software LEGO blocks. Our job is to give them the coolest LEGO blocks in the world, and they get to snap them together in very, very unique ways, where they can add value.

Fletch: That’s a great example, LEGO blocks. I like that. I’m going steal that one from you.

Gary: No problem. It’s something that everybody’s familiar with. You can just see the light bulbs come on when someone says, “Now I get it. I can take something like attribute-based routing, or I can take context, I can take speech analytics, I can take voice video, SMS, and I can snap those together in unique ways that will solve my particular business problem.” There’s just been nothing like this available in the industry up until Avaya.

Fletch: We do use cases, right? That’s what we’re doing here. We’re showing individual use cases. Who better to provide use cases than our enabled customers?

Gary: That’s exactly it. No shortage at all.

Fletch: Can you give us some examples of some apps that have been written by customers or the independent developers that have kind of enabled this on the Avaya Engagement Development Platform?

Gary: Sure. There’s a couple that come to mind. One that we’ve actually seen in multiple cases, although used differently, is what we call Dynamic Teaming. Imagine any type of an event happens in a company, and that company wants to very quickly pull the right people together to be able to engage and solve that problem.

These folks could be separated globally, they could be from different departments. In the past it was a very manual process, first, just to find out who to pull together, and secondly is the old process of, ‘Well, let me create a meeting.’ Let me send out invites, and we’ll be lucky if we can get anybody together in the next couple of hours.

With Dynamic Teaming, it’s a matter of literally seconds to be able to figure out who has the right attributes, create something like video conferencing on the fly, and automatically bring those folks in, because you know who have the right attributes, and you know that they’re available.

Fletch: Yeah, and you can reach them as well. If I know I need Fletch on a conference call right now, and I know where Fletch is, why do I have to make Fletch dial a number and put in PIN access codes? Why can’t I just go out and grab him and say, “Get in here”?

Gary: That’s exactly it. That’s what Dynamic Teaming is all about. We’ve seen that across communications companies, we’ve seen that in education, we’ve seen that in healthcare, we’ve seen that in city governments. The ways in which we have seen Dynamic Teaming being used is just much more than we ever imagined.

There was another interesting one where we had a university that had to start to abide by some new state laws. In this particular case … they had hundreds of elevators across their campuses, and they had to guarantee that within a certain period of time anyone that had a problem in an elevator could get someone live on the end of that elevator phone in a specific matter of time–I think it was like, within one minute or so.

They were almost in panic mode because they’re like, ‘How do we do that?’

With the Engagement Development Platform and its ability to robustly route calls, determine who’s present, figure out how to get those communications in place, they took a big problem that they didn’t think there was a way to solve, and they literally solved it in a matter of days.

Fletch: On top of that, I’m sure now they’ve got historical tracking of all of those events. They probably had no idea how often this was even happening.

Gary: That’s right. They went from zero analytics to now essentially knowing what’s happening in every single one of those instances. They were kind of flying blind before. There was this nice forcing function that says, look, we have to adhere to these new rules, but we’ve learned a lot about what actually happens, and now we can improve the engagement with our faculty and students and workers. It was just a great outcome.

Fletch: The data’s got to go both ways, upstream and downstream, so I’m sure there’s a maintenance guy out there going, ‘Oh, that’s elevator #43 again. That thing’s been acting up for five months,’ but management never even saw that.

Gary: Exactly. What’s interesting is now they want to take it from just being something like elevators, and they want to do it across all of their smart buildings, so you can imagine that this could play into how HVAC systems work. This could be how communications systems work. This could be when doors are locked or unlocked. There’s just an endless number of use cases.

Again, what happened was this one use case triggered in their mind lots of ways to be able to use this, and improve overall engagement with their constituents. You could just see the light bulbs come on.

Fletch: My normal day job is public safety, so when I look at this stuff I’m like, I’ve got use cases coming out of my ears for public safety, dynamic team forming in disasters, when communications is critical and often disrupted. I look at Avaya and I’m like, wow, this is right in our wheelhouse. This is where we really shine in technology.

Gary: Interesting that you would mention public safety, because we’re also seeing things like when there is, let’s just say, some type of an accident within a city, you may want to pull together teams from clinics or hospitals, you may want to pull together first responders, you may want to pull together any number of constituents that typically don’t even work together.

Now imagine being able to engage them immediately, and folks that never had an opportunity to communicate before are now brought in at the perfect time under those circumstances. Again, that engagement cannot only enhance the robustness, but in some cases, literally lifesaving.

Fletch: Yeah, and this is where all of our normal technology, the BYOD stuff, HTML5, WebRTC, any device, multimedia, with a client-less environment, this is where we … we’ve been doing this for decades, right?

Gary: That’s right.

Fletch: It’s an interesting situation.

Gary: Mobility changes everything. That’s really one of the drivers of why we put the Engagement Development Platform together, and that strategy was it’s really driven by the fact that the number of devices that are going to be available for communication literally is exploding.

The mobility has enabled that, but it’s brought on now very demanding new use cases. I think we’ve really viewed it as being at the right place at the right time. This all came about by listening to our customers and partners, becoming much more use case driven, and then delivering exactly what they needed.

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