Escaping Vendor Silos in Three Clicks

It seems like every UC vendor has jockeyed for ownership of the desktop, each pushing visions of an all-encompassing client that seamlessly blends all modes of communication and makes them available on any device. The requirement from customers to achieve this Holy Grail is an exclusive relationship with the vendor. Of course, the customer will need to give up something in meantime until the vendor gets it right: quality, flexibility, a missing mode. And what company lives in a completely homogeneous environment anyway?

At Enterprise Connect, I spoke about convergence as the driver of next-generation engagement. Convergence itself isn’t a new idea: Convergence drove the unification of voice and data networks nearly two decades ago, reduced hardware to software and inspired the concept of merging multiple disparate forms of communication into a single platform–a concept that is still largely unrealized.

For all the industry’s talk about increasing simplicity, gains have been moderate at best. End users still need to fumble through too many clients and applications to communicate, often taking them away from the work they’re actually doing and the applications they work in most frequently.

The kinds of applications that people are using continue to evolve, particularly as companies increasingly move away from desktop incumbents toward cloud-based services. Google for Work, along with alternative collaboration apps like Evernote, Box and Dropbox continue to rise as viable, browser-based enterprise alternatives.

While Avaya and others have done well closing the gap between desktop and mobile, we still need to bridge the divide between applications–not only communications applications, but business and communications applications. This is the opportunity that takes us to the next phase of convergence: Engagement.

Engagement is about business outcomes. More than collaboration, which is something people do, engagement is the result of a rich, seamless experience.

Contrary to popular belief, the battle for the desktop that most UC vendors are waging actually leaves end users in a kind of no man’s land. A standalone client–no matter how pretty and how unified–still means that the end user must exit whatever application(s) he or she is using to communicate.

It takes roughly seven clicks to move from the business application to communicate as desired, and there’s likely at least one mode that is mediocre or missing altogether. It’s disruptive to collaboration, stifles engagement and impedes progress.

This brings us to the acquisition of Esna. Avaya has a long-held belief in the value of communications-enabling business applications. The acquisition of Esna accelerates the true integration of communications into business applications and provides an easy user experience from within the applications people use on the device du jour.

As a member of Avaya’s DevConnect Select Product Program for several years, Esna’s iLink may be familiar to Avaya Scopia users as the capability that allows end users to embed a link to a Scopia virtual meeting room in an Outlook meeting notice. Scopia provides HD video and voice conferencing, document sharing, presence/IM, presentation, recording and more. With Esna, it’s just few clicks from your email client to a rich, seamless experience, from nearly any device.

That’s not all. Esna allows customers to choose the communications experiences they want on the back end. In a world where many vendors would rather provide a poor man’s version of an application rather than give up that space to a potential competitor, isn’t it nice that one company has the best interests of the customer at heart? Avaya encourages a best-of-breed approach, while endeavoring to take out the associated complexity of management for both IT and the end user.

While others focus on providing “THE CLIENT” that will populate the desktop, in reality, this approach is a throwback to how we did things in the last decade. The failure of UC is right there. Look for the company that’s focused on solving your business issues and use cases and increasing your profitability through a more open, flexible, employee and IT-friendly approach.

That’s Avaya, with Esna.

Esna with Avaya’s engagement solutions will allow customers to embed messaging, voice, video and conferencing capabilities or “click-to-X” from within any browser or mobile application, including Google for Work, Jive, Salesforce.com and other popular Web apps.

This experience will be generally available for both midmarket and enterprise customers in June 2015 with subsequent releases in 2015 to further integrate Esna into future Avaya solutions.

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