Winning Business Strategies from the Six Nations Championship

After six weeks, 15 games and 1,200 minutes of unflinching action, the 2015 Six Nations Champions have finally been crowned, following the most dramatic and exhilarating of finishes.

While (to my bitter disappointment) Wales didn’t win, at least the team figures in the match of the tournament. Who can forget their amazing fourth-round game where they dashed Ireland’s dream of a grand slam with a wave of superhuman physical effort that just kept coming?

For me, the top moment of that match–in fact, probably of the whole tournament–was the absolutely deafening roar that greeted referee Wayne Barnes’ decision to award a penalty for Jonathan Sexton going over the top.

The wall of sound got me thinking. In that moment, with all the raucousness, how does a coach–meters away from his players–get his team to focus and pull together? As a schoolboy rugby player and competitive sportsman myself, I can assure you that a team’s behavior and psyche in those vital seconds between a penalty being awarded and taken, are completely dependent on the preparation, collaboration and communication between the players and their support staff.

This observation rings true in the business world, too. A truly successful team, on or off the pitch, combines both communication and collaboration to become fully engaged. Let me explain.

While communication is necessary if players are to be effectively instructed and inspired, we should remember that it’s not a one-way street. A coach who doesn’t listen to his players can’t keep in touch with morale or feedback with solutions to problems affecting the team. It’s the same in business. Collaboration is about enabling colleagues and peers to work together.

The engagement part is important, as it’s all about creating value from that collaboration.

It requires leaders to encourage all team members to take an active role in working toward their shared goal.

It also requires consistent, reliable communication that can support innovation and problem solving. Engagement is the result of strong communication and collaboration, combined with shared experience across the whole team, and external stakeholders too.

In the Six Nations Championship, this involved physiotherapists, coaches, fans, even sponsors. In a business context, think customers, colleagues external to your team or even suppliers.

Statistics that quantify the impact of team engagement on the rugby pitch are hard to come by, but according to PWC, the most engaged workplaces experience 2x higher productivity and customer loyalty, enabling them to grow 3x faster than their competitors. Gallup has also found that 59 percent of more engaged employees say that work brings out their most creative ideas, against 3 percent of less engaged ones.

At the beginning of the Championship, I said that regardless of who triumphed in this year’s tournament, the team’s collective engagement was certain to be one of the keys to their victory.

Watching Ireland play on Saturday, I felt vindicated in my comment. There is no doubt that their focus and commitment was due to an incredibly high level of team engagement. Engagement enabled the team to be greater than the sum of its parts: delivering on set pieces, yet showing creativity and flair–all with a hearty dose of determination.

Much to my chagrin as a Welshman, I find myself thinking that leaders in all fields should be taking a leaf from the Irish playbook.

For more business insights and examples of how to grow an engaged business, follow our dedicated midmarket page on LinkedIn.

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Join us for the Transformational Journey: Avaya Evolutions is Now #AvayaENGAGE

For over 11 years Avaya Evolutions Mexico has been the milestone event for Mexico’s technology market, with over 3,000 visitors in each edition. This year Avaya Evolutions transforms into #AvayaENGAGE Mexico. Following Avaya Engage events in Dubai and Las Vegas, this is the third and final location on our tour, and the largest thought leadership event in Latin America. This must-attend event brings together top senior executives, industry leaders, technology innovators and key decision makers to reimagine the possibilities of Digital Transformation and Cloud.

In the past, Dr. Zedillo, Former President of Mexico; Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, former President of Mexico; Jose Fernandez, NASA’s first Mexican American Astronaut; Steve Wozniak; and Guy Kawasaki have all been a part of Avaya Evolutions.

Evolutions began in 2006 in Mexico as the annual premiere technology forum before expanding internationally in June 2010. The Evolutions tour gathered over 30,000 attendees in 15 different cities across the U.S., Central America, and South America, receiving the Internationalist’s Innovation Global Media Award in 2012. The success of these global events was made possible by the continuous commitment and support of our partners and sponsors.

When customers join us this June in Mexico City, they will be introduced to the latest concepts on smart digital economies from forward-looking organizations. At the Digital Transformation Lounge, customers can experience innovative demonstrations and view software solutions live.  

Join us to learn how the experience is everything. Gain knowledge and insights to make informed decisions to support your digital transformation journey.

We are bringing together an exciting lineup of keynote speakers at #AvayaENGAGE Mexico. We’re featuring Kevin Kennedy, Avaya CEO; Morag Lucey, Avaya CMO; and Gary E. Barnett, Avaya Senior Vice President and General Manager, Engagement Solutions. You can find us on Twitter @Avaya. Follow us in early May as we announce our very special guest speakers.

Join us in Mexico City on June 21 for a can’t-miss next-gen experience. I hope to see you there!

Avaya Mobile Engagement is #1 Seed to Power the March Basketball Championship Tournament

Let’s dance! I’ve been known to choreograph some big half-time dances in my day but this dance is all about college basketball. No, not Sadie Hawkins or the prom, the dance I’m referring to is, of course, the lively Division I Men’s Basketball Championship Tournament. Played mostly during March, the tournament has become one of the most famous annual sporting events in the United States. For the past five years, Avaya has powered these ultimate games in college basketball.

Experience is Everything in the World of Sports

To create a great experience, Allegiant USA partners with Avaya to power the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) annual convention in conjunction with the collegiate single-elimination championship tournament. For an event with this much coverage and participation, Allegiant USA sets up a mobile command center powered by Avaya’s IP Office™ Platform, inclusive of local and remote phones, wireless firewall switches, and VPN for secure, flexible, and easy set up that they can plug into anytime, even from their hotels. This mobile engagement kit enables the NABC to have instant access to an on-the-go office that is backed by simple, powerful unified collaboration technology for seamless engagement.

The Mobile Command Center

Avaya’s elite technology and solutions provide an instant office for the championship weekend, where the NABC sponsors several major events: the College All-Star Game, NABC Marketplace, coaching clinics, and a grand finale at the Guardians of the Game College Basketball Awards Show. During high-adrenaline times, the mobile command center connects coaches, staff, and volunteers with a reliable communications experience.

Scoring in the Cloud

The NABC Convention is home court for professional development and networking for coaches from all levels of play. NABC members use Avaya IP Office in their standard office, remote locations, tournament command center, and on-the-go offices for their mobile workforce. Throughout the single-elimination tournament, the NABC also opens a temporary office to attract new members, job applicants, and also provides networking experiences for participating coaches. Next season, the powerhouse team of NABC and Allegiant USA will be taking IP Office to the cloud for an elite, scalable, and championship-like infrastructure that protects their investment and scales as their communication needs change.

A Tradition of World Class Coaches and Technology

With the remaining four teams officially set (South Carolina vs Gonzaga and Oregon vs North Carolina), Avaya, Allegiant USA, and the NABC know it’s time to suit up and head out from Kansas City and Indianapolis and get to Phoenix, Arizona. While the championship game tips off at University of Phoenix Stadium, the NABC convention will be taking place nearby at the Phoenix Convention Center, which spans 24 acres and is named one of the top 10 conventions centers in the U.S.

The NABC was originally created to protect the essence of the game against the ban of dribbling. (See the NABC site for some background.) It evolved into an all-encompassing association committed to furthering the best interests of basketball for the players, coaches, and participants. Since its 1927 inaugural conference, NABC has grown from over 100 coaches to 2,500 coaches in recent years, and 5,000 members. Serving as an opportunity for the basketball coaching community to address issues surrounding the sport and collaborate on positive evolution of the game, it is ground zero for professional, high school, and collegiate coaches across the country.

Avaya carries a tradition of providing world class technology that pays tribute to the most important events and the highest levels of sports in the world. The national championship will be played Monday, April 3, so keep your eyes on #AvayaSports as the final bracket shapes up and the best of the best face off.  

Hope to see you on the dance floor or sitting courtside!

Digital Transformation—Powering New Experiences for Employees and Customers

There’s no let-up in the pace of change. New apps, new services and new ways of getting it done seem to spring up daily, and can seem at times, overwhelming. Thankfully, many of these new capabilities are actually making our lives easier, more fulfilling, and more productive. We’re on the cusp of a change that will go well beyond Googling an answer or picking up a voice call when you’re out and about. The analyst firm IDC calls the change Digital Transformation (DX) and defines it as “an approach that enables organizations to drive changes in their business models and ecosystems by leveraging digital competencies.”

Digital Transformation is Underway and Moving Fast

Digital Transformation promises to change the very fabric of our lives, as the Internet of Things, mobility, and big data make us more aware, more reachable, and more satisfied with our interactions, both personal and professional. The road to DX will be paved with innovations large and small. They will change the way we interact with other people and with the machines that move us, house us, feed us, and keep us healthy and engaged. But what about today? How can DX allow me to do a better job today?

IDC has done some interesting research on the notion of unified communications—that promised land of intuitive, rapid, well-organized, and multimodal interaction that we’ve been talking of for so long. They’ve determined that the market for UC solutions is growing (by 9% per year to about $38B globally by 2020) and that increasing productivity and collaboration and reducing expenses remain the key motivators for UC investments.

The Day-Changing Avaya Equinox™ Experience

These motivators are at the heart of the Avaya Equinox Experience. Equinox is built around a mobile-first reality—the notion that our smartphones and tablets have become our lifeline to … everything. How often do you look at your phone? Someone told me the average is 84 times a day. If you’re a boomer like me, it might not be that many times, but I’d guess I still look at my phone at least 40 times during my work day. Now what if each time I looked at my phone I was presented with my meeting schedule, my latest IMs, and my recent call logs? And what if that information was mirrored across my devices so that I could move seamlessly from my desk to my smartphone to my tablet to my laptop and always get the same consistent information, presented in the same intuitive way?

Sounds good, doesn’t it? And what if I could take the next step and actually take action on that information with a single tap? Enter my conference calls, open video and collaboration, return a call, or respond to a message? This ability to both understand my day’s priorities and take action on what’s most important is what defines the Avaya Equinox Experience. It’s the ability to have a UC experience that is, in fact, unified! It makes a major difference in my day and you can likely imagine how it could make a major difference in yours.

More DX Solutions from Avaya

Along with the Equinox Experience, Avaya also recently released two other innovations that we think define and support your move to DX. The Avaya Breeze™ Client SDK was used to create Equinox and Avaya now offers it to our developer ecosystem and our customers to create their own unique experiences. Would you like to integrate communications into an existing enterprise application? Does Equinox sound intriguing but you’re wondering if you could make a few tweaks for your specific vertical or enterprise needs? Add collaboration to a unique mobile app you’ve created? Or develop a kiosk experience that includes seamless communications access to additional resources? The Avaya Breeze Client SDK will give you the tools you need to bring the world of DX into your own organization—in the way that you think is best.

But what about placing those unique experiences into your environment? Your hotel rooms? Your patient rooms? Your retail spaces? Or your branch offices? Avaya Vantage is an all-glass device that is secure and admin-able and lets you take the customized experiences you created with the Breeze Client SDK and place them cost effectively into the locations that make sense for your business. You can provide unique offers, tailored experiences, create awareness of your services, and take your customer’s experience to the next level.

Interested in learning more? Check out the video clip of IDC Analyst, Rich Costello, and Avaya Director of Product Management, Paul Relf, as they discuss how digital transformation powers the new UC work experience. Read the IDC paper on DX and Avaya solutions. As always, we’re here to help you on your own DX journey! Send us a note, ask us a question, pose a problem to solve—we’d love to hear from you.