Avaya Takes Home Top Gartner Recognition in Networking

What do smartphones, pollution monitors, traffic lights and door locks have in common?  They’re all now “connected” –among the more than 25 billion “things” that will connect to the Internet by 2020.

For hospitals, IoT devices might be Internet-connected heart rate monitors and medical sensors. For schools, IoT devices might be mobile devices that students bring into the classroom or surveillance cameras. For company, IoT devices might be “smart” ventilation systems, structural integrity monitors and lighting systems. Nearly every industry today relies on Internet-connected devices — and will rely on them even more in the future.

Are you ready for the Internet of Things? Or more accurately, is your network ready?

The honest answer, for most companies, is no. Legacy networks struggle with today’s demands, and the needs of tomorrow haven’t even emerged yet!

Too many traditional networks are plagued by complexity. They take a long time to provision, manage and troubleshoot. New applications take weeks, if not months, to roll out. The impact of IoT is most likely going to cripple them.

So what can businesses do to prepare their networks for current and future demands?

A good place to start is the recently published 2015 Gartner Critical Capabilities for Wired and Wireless LAN Access Infrastructure report. Gartner defines “critical capabilities” as attributes that differentiate products and services in a class, in terms of their quality and performance.

Gartner analysts scored Avaya in the top quartile for five out of six use cases, and ranked the company No. 3 out of 14 vendors in the Enterprise Unified Wired and WLAN Access and SMB and/or Mall or Remote Branch Office Use Case categories.

What sets Avaya apart?

Avaya technology drives a streamlined, automated network that eliminates complexity by allowing “things” to easily, automatically and securely connect at the network edge.

The strength of our Unified Access solution was critical to the improved Gartner ranking. As referenced in the report, the Unified Access solution enables management, policy enforcement, guest management and security across multivendor networks. It’s supported by our Fabric architecture to provide automated network and device provisioning at remote and branch offices.

The solution tightly integrates our wired switches and management and control solutions with wireless hardware and technology, delivering a solution that can significantly ease Wi-Fi deployment and accelerate time-to-service for applications.

Gartner believes organizations can benefit from unified Wired/WLAN access layer solutions as they result in improved provisioning, orchestration and management, reduced OPEX, faster onboarding and consistent policy enforcement. And given the number of wired and wireless “things” making their way onto our networks, Unified Access solutions will become imperative moving forward.

The coming IoT world holds great promise. Now is the time to ask yourselves whether your current solution can meet your future needs. For more information, read the Gartner report.

Related Articles:

Five Things You Must Do to Shift Customer Experience in 2018

We all know that to drive competitiveness, you must shift customer experience—and that this is now more important than ever. But shift to what? How? When? I hear these questions all the time when meeting with customers in our Executive Briefing Centers, and at tradeshows and conferences. The industry is rallying around terms like “omnichannel,” “cloud,” and “analytics,” but the contact center is not a one-size-fits-all entity. You can’t instantly accomplish a great shift for your business simply by buying omnichannel for your contact center. Rather, it’s a delicate process that requires you to refresh and integrate systems together.

How to Shift Customer Experience

As executives and leaders in customer experience, we must be ready to make changes that can shift a contact center to deliver a better customer experience. Here are five things that Avaya recommends you do in 2018. These may seem obvious, but collectively they can yield true lifetime value results from customers:

  1. Understand Your Customer Journeys
    Rather than looking at countless different, individual interactions, choose to put your customer on a journey, one that rarely starts and stops with just one contact. Take an outside-in view by identifying several important customer journeys and customer preferences. Or, consider low CX scores that can be improved either through self-service assistance or by linking channels together with context (this helps to understand where the customer has been before).
  2. Listen to Your Feet on the Street
    While your customers’ feedback is essential, it is your frontline staff who will give you direct pointers. These individuals understand the necessary tools and training for reaching new levels of customer experience. Consider, for example, that 84% of global contact centers are adapting to meet the needs of next-gen millennial workers. Give your agents a sense of ownership and they will tell you where they can personalize and engage with customers on a greater level. Your agents could potentially sell more when they’re able to make customers feel great about their overall experience. The key is to arm agents with the right information on their desktops.
  3. Support Advanced Automation and Analytics
    According to Gartner, more than 50% of CIOs will have artificial intelligence as one of their top five investment priorities by 2020. AI will assist greatly in understanding the customer journey: augmented reality and bots can automate more processes over human-to-human interactions. Keep in mind, however, that humans are still needed. It’s just that advanced automation and analytics, when put in the right place, can lead to richer and more effective experiences between customers and representatives.
  4. Break Internal Silos
    Creating an orchestrated experience requires executives to look as a team at organizational processes. Take charge as the person who identifies and leads change across your entire organization. Departments working in silos—sales, marketing, service—all stop short when processes are not stitched together. Also keep in mind that your CRM systems and contact center processes must complement one another. They need to come together to drive better customer and business outcomes.
  5. Bridge The Gaps
    Now comes the fun stuff: ownership, budget and getting a project underway. This can be done either by way of proof of concept, or segmenting a certain group of interactions to begin changing processes. Take note of the before and after, and check-in with your customers on improvements (consider surveys or one-to-one outreach). Assess if there are new roles or skillsets needed to keep up with the change. Take it one step at a time and prove a return on investment against identified use cases before moving on.

You need to make a shift happen in 2018 to continually innovate customer experience and improve lifetime value. It will require some research and a few bold moves. I promise it will be a rewarding process if it is inclusive of input and bridges critical gaps.

So, where do you start? I encourage you to talk to Avaya about an assessment or visit one of our Executive Briefing Center sites. From initial strategizing to execution, Avaya can help you develop a solid customer experience plan that yields true lifetime value—we can even model a potential ROI or CLV based on your own estimates. Contact Avaya to learn more.

Avaya: Strong Now, Stronger in the Future

This article also appeared in the Khaleej Times on October 9, 2017.

As a long-time leader in unified communication and contact center applications, Avaya is completing the final stages of its chapter 11 restructuring with a new CEO, a sharpened vision, and a renewed plan for growth. Making his public debut at GITEX Technology Week in Dubai, we speak to the man in the hot seat, Jim Chirico, about his plans for Avaya —in the region and beyond.  

First, I’d like to welcome you to Dubai and to GITEX. This is your first public event since becoming CEO. Why GITEX, and what does the event mean to Avaya?

We have developed fantastic relationships here, and I’m looking forward to meeting our people, our partners, and our customers while sharing Avaya’s exciting new plans with them.

Dubai is a very inspirational city to begin with, one that has witnessed phenomenal growth in the last decade. In many ways, GITEX has developed alongside the city, both in size and in global importance. This reflects the fact that Dubai has become a crossroads for the global technology industry, both geographically and as a city that values and encourages innovation. Here at GITEX, established global firms such as Avaya can meet the emerging tech pioneers from the region and other fast-growing parts of the world. There is simply no other show like it.

In such a competitive technology landscape, where does Avaya see itself providing value to businesses and governments in the region?

Customers come to us because they trust our expertise and heritage as specialists in discovering new ways to improve the customer and citizen experience. We have a unique approach in which we work collaboratively with partners and customers to understand their real business requirements and identify their pain points—something our competitors seldom do. We then take ownership and commit to delivering a solution for their organization, not just a new tech product.

Moreover, the solutions we design are in high demand in this region. For example, nations across the region are investing significantly in Smart Government solutions. Dubai and the UAE are especially advanced in this regards. But it’s not just governments that are looking for digital solutions that transform the services and experiences they deliver. We’re seeing strong demand in the private sector as well. In fact, this week we’re presenting real-world use cases of how we’ve helped companies all over the globe meet and exceed customer expectations in today’s fast-moving digital world. This includes exhibitions devoted to vertical industries such as banking, healthcare, hospitality, public safety, and more. It’s in these applications that Avaya really excels.  

Transformation seems to be a constant in the technology field. How do you stay one step ahead of emerging tech trends when designing solutions for the marketplace?

This week you’ll hear us talking a lot about solutions that go beyond the digital experience. This reflects our belief that the conversation is no longer just about technology; it’s about what we do with technology. After all, technology is an enabler, not an end in itself—a tool to transform the way we live, work and experience the world around us. Our goal is to use technology to help organizations create superior customer and team engagement, experiences and relationships—all of which are crucial to the business success of our customers.

In terms of staying one step ahead, Avaya has a technical vision unmatched by anyone in our industry. In contrast to our competitors, who continue to offer complicated schemes and siloed structures, our systems are based on open approaches. This makes it easier for our customers to adopt emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, IoT and blockchain while protecting the innovations and investments they have already made. These open structures also enable our customers to do business with greater speed, agility and innovation.

With so much emphasis being placed on technology and automation these days, is the ‘human’ element being lost in the shuffle?

I think when we concentrate solely on the technology we lose sight of some of the most important pillars in driving successful businesses. Here I’m really talking about people’s commitment and passion. Customers, employees and partners are at the heart of everything we do. If we don’t get those relationships right, the technology is meaningless.

Let me give you an example. A study by the industry analyst firm Gartner found that 89% of organizations expect to compete primarily on customer experience. Think about that for a minute. They didn’t say they expect to compete on products, or services or the quality of their supply chain. They recognize what many organizations are discovering—that to survive they need to deliver truly differentiated experiences to their customers and their workers.

To really thrive though, companies need to inspire passion in the people who work for them and do business with them. Technology plays a role, but the reality is that passion stems from effective relationships based on trust and respect.

This is where Avaya has the edge. Even during our latest financial restructuring, our relationships remained strong. Our customers and our partners in this region stood by us, and I think that’s as much a testament to the strong relationships we’ve forged as it is to the innovative solutions we’ve delivered to our customers. I wouldn’t trade our large and loyal customer base for anything.

You’ve just taken on the role of CEO following a major transformation period for Avaya. What’s your plan for the company moving forward?

The whole purpose of our chapter 11 restructuring process in the U.S. was to reduce our burdensome debt and enable Avaya to emerge as a stronger, more competitive company. Our business operations have remained strong throughout this process, and we continued to win customers and recruit new partners.

This reflected the fact that we never lost sight of our customers. We put them at the heart of our transformation. We listen to and understand our customers in order to create better customer and citizen experiences—and better business outcomes. We have also re-engineered our business model so we can invest, make acquisitions and take advantage of new efficiencies to drive profitability and growth.

While Avaya has been working through the chapter 11 process in the U.S., I would add that our business in this region has progressed strongly. We see enormous opportunity and will continue to help companies create superior customer experiences and drive business success in today’s digital world.

The world’s top 10 airlines and top 10 banks are running Avaya, and we service more than 90% of Fortune 100 companies. Our value to the business community has never been more visible, and we look forward to providing even great value to our customers and partners in the years ahead.

The Power of Change

Change is bound to happen whether you enable it or not, whether you are ready for it or not. It will just happen. The question is: When change happens, are you making the most of the opportunities that result?

Consider the customer engagement or contact center industry as it’s commonly known. What’s driving tremendous change is digital transformation. It’s rare when two words can make such an impact in every company, worldwide, invoking an equal level of heightened fear and extreme optimism. This is a point in time for our industry that historians will look back on and point to as a revolution. For the contact center industry, it’s doubly impactful because not only do contact center companies need to transform themselves, they need to be innovating to enable all their customers and partners to transform as well.

As fate would have it, the biggest driver of enterprise-wide digital transformation is the need to transform how customers, companies and employees communicate. To meet a need of this magnitude takes vision coupled with the experience and expertise to execute the vision, to change the conversation.

At Avaya, we have that vision, experience and expertise. Since the beginning of the contact center industry we have been and are innovating communications tools and applications that enable business to get done at the speed of thought—true transformational change that meets the expectations of consumers and employees head on. The foundation of doing business at the speed of thought requires utilizing cloud, automation, and pervasive analytics to optimize communications: employee-to-employee, customer-to-company, machine-to-machine, machine-to-people, etc. requires the ability to change.

Recently a different type of change prompted a fresh conversation. Gartner published its Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure Worldwide. For the first time in 16 consecutive years, Gartner has decided that Avaya didn’t qualify to be in the leader’s quadrant due to its chapter 11 filing. Gartner has stated that this change has nothing to do with our solution capability, nothing to do with the Avaya’s operations.

Avaya remains the global market leader in contact center with 34% share, which is 14.5 points ahead of the No. 2 contact center company. Avaya is also still the leader, No.1, in all regions of the world.

We have signed more than 1,100 customer contracts since the chapter 11 filing through March 31, 2017. Furthermore, Gartner acknowledged that due to our innovation and investment in the Avaya Oceana™ Solution with its Avaya Breeze™ development platform, our vision is improved. With our continued Avaya Oceana and Avaya Breeze customer win announcements we are also demonstrating solid sales momentum of our omnichannel offering.

IDC recently observed that 2017 will be a landmark year for digital transformation. Companies are done kicking the tires. It’s time to take action now. They predict that this year we will see transformation happening more quickly than ever before, which is being demonstrated in the momentum we are seeing with Avaya Oceana. As an omnichannel contact center built on a development platform (which also becomes available to users to create their own personalized, highly scalable, cloud applications in just hours to days) Avaya Oceana is well positioned to become the transformation tool of choice.

There is no doubt that the industry is changing and digital transformation is the motivator. At Avaya, our CEO has a talk he gave to our sales teams at the beginning of the year called “From the Basement to the Boardroom.” He observes that due to the impact of digital transformation and the spotlight now on the importance of the contact center’s role in enterprise-wide transformation, no longer are contact center decisions relegated to the basement where all the hardware and data center gear traditionally resides.

Contact center decisions have now caught the attention of the c-suite: from the basement to the boardroom. The Chief Marketing Officer, Chief People Officer, Customer Experience Officer, Chief Product Officer, Chief Revenue Officer, etc. all have a vested interest in needing to transform how the company is communicating and collaborating in order to meet their individual and common business priorities. With the sophistication and complexity of how a contact center is designed to operate coupled with the detailed historical and real-time information that flows in and out of it, the level of importance of the contact center has raised significantly.

As a result, the contact center is quickly becoming the showcase for how to transform an entire organization. The importance of attribute routing to ensure the best person or team is engaged, the value of communicating across multiple channels, the benefit of maintaining real-time, historical, predictive and actionable analytics about each customer experience—these are just a few contact center capabilities that can be applied to other areas of the business to drive transformative efficiencies. The value of the information generated and maintained as a result of utilizing these capabilities, beyond the contact center, can change how an entire global organization is functioning for the better.  

When change happens are you making the most of the opportunities that result? For Avaya, I am proud to say that the answer has always been and will continue to be a resounding YES! Change is how we move forward. Having the foresight and the vision to see past today, past this week, past this month and see the bigger picture is how a leader embraces and affects change. Together with our customers, we are making the digital opportunity happen, and will continue.