Team Engagement: The Value is in the Business Processes

For unified communications vendors like Avaya, developing technologies, features and capabilities represent the table stakes, while delivering business value on top of that foundation leads to market success.

Developing and using great new technology is thrilling for technology-centric organizations: just say WebRTC, H.265, directory federation, zero-trust security, or even single sign-on in a technically-competent circle and watch the conversation blossom.

Technology isn’t enough. Knowing and implementing the APIs and SDKs, protocols and standards, features and capabilities, even graphical and voice-activated user interfaces represent the important “table stakes” in developing and delivering unified communications to market. It is not, in my opinion, the route to market success or customer satisfaction.

Many market leaders today are trying to shift the conversation from technologies and capabilities to user experiences. Avaya has embraced this shift in part by referring to our traditional unified communications portfolio as Team Engagement Solutions–focusing on the value we provide to our users, and not the features we deliver.

This is a great first step in actually articulating the business value of implementing unified communications by concentrating on how information workers take the solution in hand to help complete their job.

User experience should not be confused with user interface. The user interface design team concerns itself with menu tree optimization, presentation of options, and time/motion studies to access the capabilities of the system; in short, what a person does to interact with a system. User experience starts from that foundation and considers the user’s relationship with the solution and how they integrate that into their daily processes–in short, how they feel when they use the system.

It is possible for a solution to have a world-class user interface and a terrible user experience.

Think of the way Mark Zuckerberg organizes the Facebook offices: Web designers who create the look and feel of Facebook are within arm’s reach of his desk, while the architects and engineers are a layer away. He knows where they are when he needs them, but they are not in his face.

Mirroring his users’ experience, the engineers who create the architecture that makes the user experience possible are hidden from view, just a few steps away from the Web designers who deliver Facebook’s public persona and value.

This brings us to the central issue–as unified communications solutions providers have learned the hard way over the past decade, simply replacing a PBX, interfacing with an email solution, connecting to a corporate directory, and delivering video connections is not enough. Framing your UC solutions as a replacement for existing and developing solutions sets vendors up to compete in a price war, robbing their company of the financial resources required to rapidly deliver future innovation that enables their customers to use communication and collaboration as a competitive advantage.

Knowing the business value of communication and collaboration–the processes that are both critical to achieving competitive success and are most likely to be bogged down by delayed human interaction–is key to selling the value of unified communications or Team Engagement.

Even a large company like Avaya is not able to have deep relationships with every buyer, user and decision-maker in the market to really drive every sale–particularly when we address the midmarket. This is why Avaya has committed to the channel and supports distributors and resellers that innovate in the delivery of solutions.

As an evangelist for cloud-based solutions, I see the technical components and capabilities required for engagement solutions to succeed in the market rapidly are out of the lab and ready to be implemented across our ecosystem.

With core technology from Avaya Labs delivering world-class capabilities, a cloud-based architecture to deliver upgrades, new services and manage configurations, and an ‘as a Service’ business model to flex capabilities and volumes with business needs, OnAvaya solutions allow our business partners to work closely with their customers to solve business problems, instead of resolving technology issues.

Avaya has a wide variety of service providers, systems integrators, and cloud-focused companies proving the value of OnAvaya cloud solutions by winning deals. Danish service provider, Cirque, was serving 5,000 users nine months after going live with an Avaya-powered hosted communications solution.

When HP and Avaya agreed to a partnership to deliver cloud-based engagement solutions, Mike Nefkens, EVP and General Manager, HP Enterprise Services said, “The partnership with Avaya supports HP’s larger vision for the New Style of IT.”

Avaya is also working with Google to deliver solutions that combine the engagement expertise from Avaya, and the cloud expertise from Google.

We have service providers and systems integrators proving this value by winning deals at marquee clients like Verizon selling OnAvaya cloud-based engagement solutions to federal and state governmental agencies, or HP signing five new contracts with enterprise customers to deploy OnAvaya Cloud solutions in the first quarter of our joint cloud initiatives, or working with Google and their partners to sell OnAvaya solutions to clients like Vegas.com.

At the end of the day, this makes the business partner a trusted advisor who is able to engage in conversations about how to evolve business processes–and that is the great promise of cloud and engagement solutions.

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Avaya Solutions Connect People Across the World

During a recent vacation cruise, I found myself playing cards with a group of six strangers. As we got to know one another I was asked, “What do you do for work?” The question quickly became a discussion, and I’d like to share that conversation with you.

Who is Avaya?

A couple of people at the table knew of Avaya. One asked, “Doesn’t Avaya make phone systems?” Another asked, “I hear about cloud all the time. Are you guys doing cloud?”

While both of these questions are relevant and somewhat factual, both miss what makes Avaya special. In my opinion Avaya is a connection company. The whole reason Avaya exists is to connect people with people. In my experience, it really is that simple.

Avaya makes it easy to get work done by connecting teammates with other teammates, regardless of where they are, what device they have, and what network they’re connected to. At the same time, Avaya connects consumers who need help with the exact resource who can fix whatever is challenging them, helping to create lasting impressions and ongoing relationships.

More than 90% of Fortune 100 companies are running Avaya Solutions. I believe that each and every day almost every human being on the planet is impacted by Avaya solutions in one way or the other. Heck, thanks to the cruise line using Avaya solutions, everyone with me at the table had their cruise questions answered prior to boarding the ship.

This led to the most interesting part of the discussion. If people connect with people using Avaya, how do we make the world better? The answer lies in two areas, and we’re deeply invested in fixing both.

  1. Making it Easier to Work. While Avaya tools make it easier to connect with teammates wherever they are, there is still room for improvement in making it easier for you to actually get work done. People have so many tools and apps it’s confusing to know what to use when, and there are still a ton of manual steps to getting people together to work on projects. Using Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, and Avaya Breeze we automate a lot of the manual stuff that makes work so frustrating, which means when something happens at work, you waste less time reacting and more time responding with a tool that’s built to be easy to use, puts everything you need at your fingertips, is always available, and is super secure.
  2. Making Customer Service Experiences Better. Avaya recognizes how frustrating customer service has become, and we’re helping companies fix it. Over the years, customer service was designed around the company’s needs not the consumer’s. Things like auto attendants, long hold times, and constantly repeating yourself are too common. Using Artificial Intelligence and our experienced consultants, we help businesses change both the technology and the business processes to create more magical experiences for consumers.
     

    For example, booking a cruise online can be super frustrating, especially if you get a discount code that doesn’t seem to work. The last thing you want to do is call customer service. But what if when you call, the auto attendant knows who you are and greets you by name. Instead of telling you what it can do, it knows you’re calling because of the trouble you had on the website. When you’re connected with an agent, they not only know why you’ve called but they already know how to fix the problem. Instead of wasting time trying to talk you through which fields to change, they ask to share your screen so they can show you how to use the discount. Avaya eliminates the frustration and replaces it with a near magical experience … all by improving the connection between you and the cruise ship company.

Simply put, Avaya solutions make the world a better place because we make connecting with the people you need easier, faster, more secure, and even slightly more magical than ever before.

Avaya IP Office Can Speed Your Journey to Communications in the Cloud

Let’s talk cloud—or, should I say, let’s talk in the cloud. Research shows that by 2020, 78% of small and midsize businesses will be fully adapted to the cloud—almost double that of 2014. One of the main drivers in this growth is the way we share and communicate. By bringing disparate communication channels together onto a common platform, companies stand to gain tremendous productivity and efficiency increases. But, for all the benefits, there’s no denying that moving to communications in the cloud can be challenging. Working with a trusted partner is critical to avoiding some of the common issues that can arise.

The Many Challenges That Can Cloud Your Journey

Like many SMBs, you may be facing limited IT budgets and capital, so cost-efficiency is paramount, which means no room for error in mapping out a cloud strategy.

Moving to communications in the cloud can also mean an increase in complex application environments, and the need for more scalability in line with application usage. You need to find a balance between purchasing and maintaining IT tools, vs. coping with legacy systems and aging infrastructure. Making this all the more complex is limited IT resources and the increasing cost of attracting/training/retaining IT staff.

That said, the benefits of making the move are considerable and well-documented, and approached correctly it’s a sound commercial decision, giving you:

  • A predictable expense model with subscription-based payment options—you only pay for what you use
  • Access to the latest technology with real-time monitoring, with management and analytics included in many solutions
  • More time for your IT staff to focus on more strategic initiatives
  • The ability to scale up or down as needed, on demand in response to your business peaks and troughs

So Where Do You Start?

The Avaya IP Office™ platform gets you to the hybrid cloud quickly, easily and cost-effectively. A powerful unified collaboration solution, IP Office has a simple migration capability that takes you from hardware, virtualisation, and cloud deployments, to a hybrid cloud. It unites all of your communication and collaboration solutions onto a universal platform.

Why Migrate to Avaya IP Office in the Cloud?

  • Common code base—no retraining of staff
  • Worldwide partner expertise
  • Investment protection
  • Reuse IP, digital, cordless and analog devices
  • Repurpose IP Office 500v2 as a gateway and failover
  • Cloud critical features: built-in, always on security and centralised management
  • Unique hybrid resilience—whether cloud-to-premise, or premise-to-cloud

Envision Your Migration With Avaya

Get in touch to discuss your own requirements, and together we can map out how IP Office can help transform your IT operations and put your communications in the cloud.

If Getting Work Done Takes Too Much Work—Take the Team to Zang Spaces

Fast Company recently published a survey finding that the average tech CEO works 300 days a year, 14 hours a day. One third of that time is spent managing email, while another third is spent in meetings. Two thirds of a tech CEO’s time is spent communicating and collaborating, and this issue touches everyone in an enterprise, even Bob in Accounts Payable. It turns out getting work done just takes too much work, primarily due to the number of redundant tools users are given to accomplish tasks. Our application Zang Spaces™ addresses the enterprise communication problem in a big way.

What We Have Today

Desk phones and cell phones are great for communicating, but you can hold only one voice conversation at a time, which is nowhere near enough in our multi-tasking world. Digital transformation may seems like a new trend but enterprises digitally transformed communications years ago with tools like email, instant messaging, and web conferencing. While it’s ubiquitous, email is a horrible tool for collaboration. IM lets you participate in multiple conversations at the same time, but everyone has to be logged in at the same time to communicate, which is just dumb. Online meeting tools bridge the challenges of distance, but once a session is complete it’s usually gone forever. Newer collaboration tools such as on-line storage lockers are great for working on documents, but they’re “unitaskers” which only add to the tool overload.

How to Make Work, Well, Less Work

Cloud-based Zang Spaces doesn’t require anything to be installed in your data centers, or on your PC. You can use Zang Spaces to communicate, collaborate, and manage tasks in a single, easy application.

From One to Many

Zang Spaces can be used to communicate and collaborate with individual users via audio, video, and messaging. Since anyone can use Zang Spaces, you can invite resources from outside of your organization to collaborate. Zang Spaces can also be used to communicate and collaborate with groups of people. Simply create a virtual meeting room, called a “Space,” and invite the members of the team to participate by entering their email address.

Smart Messaging

When you first enter a Space, you see the group’s chat stream. Unlike IM, which requires users to be online to receive messages, Zang Spaces uses Smart Messaging. Unlike plain ol’ IM, you can catch up to the conversation that has happened while you were away, and then add your comments for others to read. The chat stream is synchronized across all of your devices, so you can add quick responses from your phone, and then elaborate when you’re back in front of a PC.

Order from Chaos

One of biggest problems with group chat is multiple conversations happening in one thread. Users lose track of what they’re trying to discuss, and it becomes a mess. Zang Spaces delivers order from this chaos with a tool called Posts. On a single form, your team can have topi- based, threaded discussions, which makes it super easy to stay focused. With Posts, you can even upload files that are relevant to the discussion.

Stay on Task

When you have a team working together, many times there are multiple tasks that must be managed to deliver results. Instead of adding another unitasker to your users’ crowded toolboxes, they can manage multiple tasks in Zang Spaces. Users can create tasks in a Space and assign them to one or more team members. Team members can discuss the task, update progress, and upload files relevant to the task on a single form that makes it a breeze to reference later.

Real Time, Not Real Complicated

When you need to get the team together in real time, thanks to the magic of WebRTC, with a single click in your browser, you’ve created an audio/video conference with team members. No plugins to download or software to install, simply share your desktop with team members, and even offer a dial-in phone number for audio-only access.

Start Now

Zang Spaces is absolutely free to use! Simply visit zang.io, sign up for an account, and you’re set. You can send and receive as many messages as you’d like, you can hold audio and video calls with individual users, create as many Spaces as you need, and even host five-party audio conferences … at no cost. If you need additional capacities, Zang Spaces Plus and Zang Spaces Pro offer huge capacities for a great price.

Want to learn more? Get your free account and then send me a message in Zang Spaces at forcum@avaya.com.