Avaya Brings Home Another 5-Star Rating in CRN’s 2015 Partner Program Guide Under the Leadership of Avaya’s Own CRN Channel Chief

It’s with no small amount of pride that we are pleased to announce that we’ve been awarded with a 5-star rating in CRN’s 2015 Partner Program Guide – now for the sixth year in a row.

This annual directory is the definitive listing of technology vendors that service solution providers or provide products through the IT channel. The 5-Star Partner Program rating recognizes an elite subset of companies that offer solution providers the best partnering elements in their channel programs based on investments in program offerings, partner profitability, partner training, education and support, marketing programs and resources, sales support and communication.

Further, this award is compounded by CRN’s recognition of Richard Steranka as a 2015 Channel Chief, for his work driving Avaya’s efforts to improve the profitability of our channel partners.

As a Channel Chief, Richard represents one of the most powerful leaders in the IT channel driving growth through their indirect channel partners. Individuals are selected for inclusion based on their track record of channel accomplishments, standing in the industry, dedication to the partner community, and plans for driving future business innovation and channel growth.

It may seem obvious that there’s a symbiotic relationship between vendors and their channel partners. They depend on one other; each one must make a commitment to the other to be successful.

Successful channel programs require an open dialogue between the partner and the vendor to understand each other’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and frustrations. Sometimes these conversations are heated and other times they’re celebratory. It’s all part of clearing the pathways for success.

The Avaya Connect Partner Program is and has been a work-in-progress. The business world is more dynamic than ever. New rules – many yet unwritten – need to replace older, outmoded ones. Less than a decade ago, most companies equated what’s now called “cloud services” with Centrex; the move to software for real-time communications was just starting to turn into an upswing, although a large part of a partner’s revenue could still come from selling hardware: PBXs and telephones.

That’s all changed, and skills and programs need to move with the changes for partners and vendors to stay relevant. This year, Avaya has focused on the transformation occurring in the industry and how channel partners can capitalize on the shift, particularly around cloud-delivered engagement solutions.

Under Steranka’s leadership, we’ve worked with partners to enable them to be there for customers who are increasingly moving from premises-based IT operations to cloud-based services. Many Avaya partners are now able to offer a cloud-based service through a wholesaler or distributor, or may be launching their own service based on Avaya Customer and Team Engagement solutions for enterprises or midmarket companies.

We’ve also restructured our partner recognition program to make customer value through expertise, customer satisfaction and experience the central theme of the program. It’s our customers who decide whether either of us provides the value that warrants an ongoing relationship, so it behooves us to drive a standard of excellence for our solutions as well as our go-to-market efforts.

We’re looking forward to better enablement for our channel and greater success for our partners. We can’t wait to see what Richard and team have in store for the year ahead.

The 2015 Partner Program Guide will be featured in the April issue of CRN, and online at www.CRN.com.

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Avaya A.I.Connect Focuses on Improving Companies’ Customer Experiences

For Avaya, AI is all about people. Sure, there are clearly opportunities to increase automation, to provide higher quality, more natural, more life-like conversational self-service solutions for automated IVR, text, and chat interactions. But in all these cases, there is still a person at one end of the interaction—the end customer. At Avaya, our A.I.Connect initiative focuses on using AI and machine learning technologies to enable our customers to deliver more engaging experiences for their end customers.

The Evolution of AI

The term artificial intelligence dates back to 1956 as an academic discipline, born out of a workshop at Dartmouth College by leading researchers in the computer science field. AI’s success has come in fits and starts, with overblown expectations and not a small bit of fear—it’s been predicted that AI-enabled systems and machines will somehow impinge upon the place of human beings in the global pecking order. But interest in AI (and its associated results) is stronger than ever, poised perhaps to deliver upon an almost 70-year-old hypothesis that machines can be smarter than people. But no, we aren’t welcoming our new robotic overlords. At least not yet.

Keeping People in the Center of Our AI Story

Bringing AI capabilities to the table ultimately centers on increasing the positive nature of the customer’s experience. And doing so in the most innocuous, unobtrusive, comforting and, dare I say, enjoyable ways possible.

End customers aren’t the only ones who benefit from a little artificial intelligence boost. AI’s benefits extend to contact center agents and supervisors, making them more capable of meeting customer needs. AI provides capabilities for customer insight and an almost prescient ability for agents to have the right information at their fingertips (and get it to the end customer) just when it can have the most positive impact towards a successful outcome.

Our Key Focus Areas for AI Enablement

Companies are applying AI capabilities in a dizzying number of ways. While consumers may be familiar with automated back-and-forth interactions to select music, play games, order and re-order supplies, or simply update their family calendars, AI in the enterprise is stretching more broadly and deeply.

Within the scope of customer experience, Avaya’s AI strategy takes a more holistic view of the customer journey, creating a feedback loop from first contact through subsequent interactions across any and all channels, to continuously improve the key metrics for customer satisfaction. And through analytics, to feed the outcomes of the customer journey back into the AI engines so that smart technology can grow even smarter for the next iteration of contact by the customer.

As we apply AI to the contact center, we’re focusing on how it intersects with key areas, including:

  • Effortless Self-Service, including adoption through conversational interfaces, and extending Bot-based interaction capabilities.
  • Smart Routing, using Big Data and interaction history, as well as customer sentiment and other analytical/statistical measures, to provide pinpoint customer routing strategies.
  • Agent Augmentation, to drive upsell/retention opportunities through proactive guidance and next-best-action suggestions consistently across voice, video, chat, email and messaging channels.
  • Interaction Insights, using trend spotting and sentiment analysis among other techniques to allow enterprises to elevate offerings and enhance business processes with improved best practices and voice-of-customer analytics.
  • Enhanced Workforce Optimization, automating and improving QA and discovery of best practice models with the assistance of AI, as well as improving resource scheduling by predicting volumes and absentee rates within the enterprise

Introducing A.I.Connect, our Ecosystem of Partners

There’s an adage that says “to be a great leader, surround yourself with people smarter than you.” And that is exactly what we are doing with the launch of A.I.Connect.

A.I.Connect represents our partner ecosystem for delivering AI-enabled experiences joined to Avaya’s team and customer engagement solutions. Drawing upon top-notch AI-enabled technologies, integrators, and capabilities from companies like Afiniti, ArrowSI, Cogito, EXP360, Nuance, ScoreData and Sundown.ai, as well as others to be made public in the coming weeks, we aim to build an ecosystem that delivers exceptional experiences across the entire customer journey, from first contact to improving every subsequent interaction for the lifetime of that customer relationship. 

Avaya’s Future Rests on Customers, Partners, and Our People

As Avaya begins a new fiscal year and prepares to emerge from our debt restructuring as a public company, we are thinking a lot about Avaya’s future. We’re on a journey to create a future that includes new value for our customers and new opportunities for our partners. My confidence in the path ahead is based on the expertise, dedication and passion of our people around the world—a team I am honored to lead as the new CEO of Avaya.

Why am I so confident? It’s pretty simple, really:

  • We know how to listen: We have a unique approach in which we work collaboratively with customers to understand their real business requirements. We identify their pain points and help them realize new opportunities—something our competitors seldom do.
  • We deliver: Our teams take ownership and commit to delivering solutions to customers that improve their organizations. We’re not in the business of just selling customers the latest new tech product. We’re in the business of advising customers how to communicate better and create outstanding experiences, so they can achieve their goals.
  • We have the right partners: Our partner community is a key differentiator that enhances the value we deliver to organizations around the world and extends our reach to new customers and markets. We will expand this global ecosystem of channel and technology partners in the future, which is going to enable us to more easily integrate emerging and disruptive technologies into our solutions.

Our people understand more than anyone that everything we do is about our customers. Our installed base of more than 130,000 customers in 220,000 locations is the envy of our industry. This is our “unfair advantage” and the foundation on which we will build Avaya’s future. I also learned as global sales leader this past year that our customers love our technology. Through thick and thin, they’ve continued to embrace our unparalleled solutions. 

Our open architecture not only enables our customers to integrate new technologies while preserving the investments they’ve already made; it also simplifies their adoption of emerging technologies—such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and blockchain. In addition, we are using open interfaces to give developers, partners, and employees the flexibility to bring innovation to market faster than our competitors, and ultimately transform the customer experience.

I believe Avaya is in a leading position to help customers compete today and prepare for the competitive environment of the future. By enabling people to communicate and interact in new and compelling ways, we are providing the power to change, influence and impact others around us, and experience the world in new and meaningful ways. We’re looking forward to working with our customers, partners and people to achieve great things together.

Avaya at GITEX 2017: See What You Can Make with the Latest Technology

One thing you can be sure of about Avaya at GITEX 2017 Technology Week: We will stand out from the crowd. We’ve been attending this Dubai-based mega-event since 2005 and every year we design our show presence from scratch, to provide fresh and unique info to our customers and partners who invest time in visiting us. Avaya will be at Stand Z-C20 in Za’abeel Hall, Dubai World Trade Center, October 8-12.

Often, this approach means we take technology in completely unexpected directions. We show solutions that reflect conversations with our industry-leading customers and our understanding of the pain points they experience in their businesses. These become what we call “use cases.” We take our communications portfolio and design solutions that meet our customers’ most pressing needs and, therefore, reflect real market demand. For us, our customers and partners, the conversation has moved on from being just about technology, and on to what you want to make with it.

For instance, the telecommunications industry is going through massive transformation and operators are looking for alternative revenue streams. Some of the leading players in Europe are defining the way forward here, coming up with new and innovative ways to expand horizontally into new ventures. They’re starting with their contact center operations, where they have accumulated customer data—the most valuable asset of any organization—and are looking at how new technologies can enhance the customer experience and add revenue.

At GITEX this year, we are very proud that two of the leading operators in Europe will be with us to demonstrate how we are helping them leverage automation, analytics and artificial intelligence to transform their business models. Avaya’s thought leadership, expertise and unparalleled ecosystem is helping these operators integrate AI into their businesses and head to new dimensions.

For those of us in Dubai, we can’t help but be inspired by the vision of the Smart Dubai team to make the city the world’s first blockchain-powered government. Our engineers and our leading partners are working to turn this vision into a reality, and Avaya will have a truly unique solution to present to the world, from GITEX.

Today, our Unified Communications and Contact Center solutions are being used by all sorts of customers, in all sorts of industry sectors, for usages that we hadn’t even imagined a few years ago—but that those customers did imagine, and we helped to make reality.

Technology has the power to transform—depending on what you want to make with it. By understanding what our customers want to do with our technology and helping them to achieve it, we’ve achieved our biggest transformation, one that we are happy to share with you at this year’s GITEX. If you visit our stand this year, you will see how we are working with partners and customers to go beyond the digital experience. We look forward to seeing you there.