The Top 3 Things to Expect at Enterprise Connect 2016 in Orlando

Customers want more from you today than they did yesterday – they want information anytime, anywhere and on any device.  Even better, they want you to know what they want before they do. In just a few days, we’re heading to Enterprise Connect in Orlando to learn and share information about the latest innovations that will help businesses successfully complete the digital transformation necessary to engage customers on the level they want. We’re expecting some great panel discussions and keynotes. And we will be back with the return of the Avaya Innovation Lounge – and a big announcement.

As I wrote last year, customer expectations for service are high. These expectations have created a new battleground to win customer loyalty in the digital world, where the customer is always first and the customer is always right. Being able to make the digital transformation work, where customers are engaged on their terms, requires being able to respond to consumers and create differentiation in the process by moving at the speed of customers. Here are the three big things I’m confident will create a lot of buzz at Enterprise Connect:

#1: Panel discussions and sessions on easing the digital transformation

Enterprise Connect is the forum where companies get the tools to transform how they do business, and we’re sending some of our best minds to help companies approach and successfully conduct their own transformations. Expect our in-house experts to participate in critical panel discussions on topics ranging from using WebRTC for customer engagement to how analytics is changing customer service and how to manage the customer journey. Additionally, Avaya’s customers will be sharing their experiences on managing communications in a changing environment.

#2: An exciting new announcement from Avaya

The big news will be unveiled during Gary E. Barnett’s keynote on Wednesday. As the Senior Vice President & General Manager of Engagement Solutions, he’s best equipped to announce our latest offering, which will help simplify and secure organizations’ business communications solutions.

Our latest solution will ultimately provide what businesses need to take the leap to smart customer journey management, customer-centric engagement, and a way to stay competitive in a fickle market. It’s going to help our customers engage their customers and fuel business growth, all while enhancing capabilities without disrupting their businesses.

#3: The popular Avaya Innovations Lounge

Expect some old favorites to reappear at Enterprise Connect. Aside from our booth, where we’ll be demonstrating a selection of our major offerings, the Avaya Innovations Lounge, back by popular demand for the seventh straight year, will be open on Tuesday and Wednesday. We’re the only company to invite its customers backstage to get a preview of new projects and engage in direct conversations with experts. In the Innovations Lounge, you help influence the direction of future Avaya offers. If you have questions about your own digital transformation or how to serve today’s consumer, come chat with one of our experts in the Innovations Lounge Consulting Studio. We’re booking slots now.

If you’ll be in the area but don’t have your expo pass yet, you can get a discount on your registration when you register here, using the code “BASSETT” in the appropriate field. The expo, keynotes, and sessions are free if you register in advance.

We hope to see you there. Tell me, what do you expect to get out of Enterprise Connect?

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Watch out Enterprise Connect … We’re Baaaaaack!

I must admit, it felt strange when Avaya decided to skip Enterprise Connect last year. To me, Enterprise Connect is like the annual Academy Awards. You need to be seen on the red carpet, and when Hollywood stars that return year after year suddenly don’t appear, people wonder what is going on. We had reason and now that’s all behind us. So we are back at Enterprise Connect with a new facelift and the new Avaya will be more bold, fully present and armed with exciting news and innovations!

2018 kicked off with a bang for us, and the last eight weeks have been a whirlwind of exciting activities and news:

Avaya has completed a six-year technology refresh cycle to evolve our architecture and suite of applications to be modern, open, and API-driven for today’s needs. This allows us and our customers and partners to quickly respond to the need for speed of innovation, mobility, simplification, and cloud for UC and Contact Center solutions.

The new Avaya has made the pursuit of digitization relevant. With automation and self-service technologies now playing a critical role to benefit both employee and customer experiences, we are in the perfect position to help accelerate digital transformations, reduce costs, increase efficiencies, and enhance experiences for the new connected world.

Our go-forward offers make the speed of integration and innovation unique. Our assets—including CPaaS, Snap-ins, connectors and other intellectual property—bring out-of-the-box transformations to life. At the same time, we are providing customers with a simple path to evolve to the future and build on what they have in on-premises, hybrid, and cloud deployment models.

So what can you expect from Avaya, a diamond sponsor, at Enterprise Connect on March 12-15 in Orlando, Florida?

Not to disappoint, we are returning with our exclusive Avaya Innovation Lounge in the Orange Blossom Ballroom for our partners, customers, analysts and press to speak openly to experts and executives. By invitation only, attendees can test drive our latest innovations and upcoming offers including powerful uses for AI and predictive “next best action” decisions and analytics, as well as creative ways to bring forward IoT applications and devices.

We will be at the Expo on Booth 1918. There we will provide an array of exciting use case and vertical-specific demonstrations and real-world customer examples to show how technologies such as mobile experience, block chain, AI, and machine learning are changing the world of communications and the contact center. We will be showcasing our modern applications including the Avaya Equinox™ Experience, a mobile-first client and collaboration solution, and the Avaya Oceana™ Solution, a next-gen omnichannel solution for customer experience and our new lines of modern Endpoints and Devices.

On Wednesday March 14, at 9:40 am in the Osceola C, Laurent Philonenko, Avaya’s Senior Vice President and General Manager of Solutions & Technology, will deliver an industry vision address. He will discuss how Avaya is embracing industry disruption and is best positioned to respond to Unified Communications & Collaboration and Contact Center challenges in this era of mobility, automation, machine learning and cloud. We will also be participating in other panels and breakout sessions during Enterprise Connect.

It’s an exciting time at Avaya and us winning the best performance award in the industry is well underway.

Winning on the Customer Service Battleground

Think back to the last time you had a truly magical customer service experience. For me, it was a recent trip to an airport car rental desk. Two dozen people stood in line as three agents behind the desk worked as quickly as they could to get people into cars. I was convinced I’d be standing in that line for at least the next 30 minutes, when someone encouraged me to try a freestanding video kiosk off to the side.

Within 30 seconds, I was face-to-face with an agent working in a video-enabled contact center. She went over my options, displaying available car models on the screen. She scanned my driver’s license and had me sign the rental agreement electronically. In less than 5 minutes, I was heading to my rental car.

Customer expectations have never been higher, and for good reason—we carry powerful computers in our pockets that allow us to share photos and video, individually- or group-text our friends and colleagues, check email, book reservations, buy tickets, compare prices, read crowdsourced reviews and connect instantly in ways unimaginable 10 years ago.

The companies winning today lead with great customer service., Costco, Nordstrom, Netflix and Apple are well-known for their obsession with personalized, seamless customer service, while certain retailers and cable companies, which will remain unnamed, are known for impersonal, slow, frustrating or high-pressure customer experiences.

It’s no surprise that 89 percent of companies plan to compete primarily on customer service by 2016. Avaya is uniquely positioned to help businesses tackle this challenge—the company has led the Gartner Magic Quadrant for contact center infrastructure for the last 15 years in a row, and its customer engagement software solutions are currently in use by more than 5 million customer service agents worldwide. Avaya solutions are found inside 95 percent of the Fortune 500, inside the world’s 10 largest airlines and 9 out of 10 of the world’s largest banks.

At Enterprise Connect this week, Avaya will unveil its latest set of solutions to help companies compete more effectively on the customer service battleground.

Notably, the Avaya’s two flagship enterprise communications products—Avaya Aura 7 and Avaya Contact Center Elite 7—are now available in a completely virtual, software-only option. Now, deploying the industry’s best communications infrastructure is easier than ever, particularly if your company is migrating to the public, private or hybrid cloud.

Avaya Breeze (formerly known as the Avaya Engagement Development Platform) is an open technology platform that simplifies development of mobile-first, multi-platform communication applications. For some companies, that means it’ll be easier than ever to pull customer context out of existing information silos for greater personalization. For others, that will mean embedding communication capabilities into existing mobile apps, websites or internal workflows. Unlike competing platforms, Avaya Breeze apps can be built in hours or days, rather than weeks or months.

The company today is launching the Avaya Snapp Store, the first ecommerce marketplace for business communications applications.

Customers, partners and developers can find, purchase and download Snap-Ins—easily consumed, pre-built connectors, purpose-built application or  code—made on Avaya Breeze. Third party developers can quickly create, upload and sell their own Snap-Ins from the store. A number of Snap-ins, from Avaya and third-party developers, will be free while others will be offered on a monthly subscription or perpetual use basis.

“Now, Avaya delivers on the promise of open, mobile engagement with a platform that allows companies to easily design and embed applications into workflows via a powerful, simplified, software-defined architecture and infrastructure for communications,” said Gary E. Barnett, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Engagement Solutions at Avaya. “This game-changing technology is built for digital business where companies need the flexibility, speed and the freedom to easily create unique value for their customers. Avaya Breeze liberates them from the confines of monolithic, vendor-locked platforms.”

Thousands of developers, partners and customers have already attended early Avaya Breeze bootcamps, to learn how to design, build and test Avaya Snap-ins. These bootcamps have regularly been oversubscribed. Recent examples of Snap-ins include:

  • A cloud-based knowledge management platform is using Avaya Breeze to push relevant content to a customer’s smartphone to help solve an issue or speed a transaction.
  • An SMS messaging platform is using Avaya Breeze to more easily add messaging to Avaya-powered contact centers.
  • A collaboration-focused startup is using Avaya Breeze to help companies keep track of the increasingly multi-platform customer journey. Contact center agents use the startup’s platform to easily pick up the conversation exactly where they left off.
  • A voice security startup is using Avaya Breeze to help authenticate customers on voice calls in a fluid and unobtrusive way.

Finally, Avaya PodFx (formerly known as Avaya Collaboration Pod) places the company’s most powerful products—business communications, video conferencing and customer service—into a single rack that can be rolled into a cloud services provider, or into a company’s individual, on-premises data center. Avaya PodFx was designed with remote management and troubleshooting capabilities at its core.

In the past, companies used to think of digital transformation as a choice—a set of internal initiatives to modernize their communications infrastructure or invest in mobile, for example. Digital transformation is no longer a choice—it’s a reality being driven by the market. Customers want better experiences with their favorite brands.

Some 90 percent of customers say they regularly switch devices during a transaction journey—often starting with online self-service before trying online chat, voice, text, email, mobile app, video or social media. Ideally, every customer wants a nearly instant, personalized solution.

Seven out of 10 customers expect to be able to engage with companies over mobile—either inside the company’s app, through a mobile-optimized website or text messaging. More than half of customers say a bad mobile experience means they’d be less likely to engage with a company again.

“The competitive battleground has shifted, requiring a new type of solution and means to respond to digital customer behavior,” Barnett said. Customer expectations today will not wait for old contact center technology to get its act together. Speed is the new currency for business transformation – businesses need to understand, predict and respond to customer needs … Avaya is the only company that can rapidly elevate the customer end game without the disruption typical of massive technical change.”

IP Office Takes Top Scores at Enterprise Connect

Selecting a team engagement solution in the era of mobility, cloud-based solutions and industry consolidation is no easy task. As new trends disrupt the industry, finding the best solution for your company’s specific needs becomes more complex.

As solutions scale in size and capabilities, platforms once targeting smaller companies may be able to serve larger businesses with enterprise features while offering a lower TCO.

Such is the case of Avaya IP Office, which this week received the highest overall marks at Enterprise Connect’s RFP Workshop, a competition that evaluated enterprise IP telephony and UC premise-based, hybrid and cloud-based solutions from leading industry vendors and system integrators.

How does this RFP work?

Every year, as part of the Enterprise Connect agenda, consultants (David Stein for the past 2 years) put out a comprehensive RFP that companies are asked to build proposals against. Proposals are evaluated and rated in the categories of architecture, feature/functionality and total cost of ownership (TCO).

The proposals are presented in detail during a 3-hour session at the conference. The final score: 25 percent for architecture, 50 percent for features/functionality and 25 percent for TCO.

The purpose of the RFP workshop is to help companies understand the way experienced consultants evaluate their various solution options, as well as expose them to a sample of how vendors respond to the requirements of a potential customer.

This year’s RFP was for a new IP telephony and UC system for 2,000 users, distributed in 3 sites: headquarters with 1,750 users, large branch with 200 users and small branch with 50 users. The solution had to allow for 100 percent growth (to 4,000 users in the future) without replacing the initially-deployed hardware.

The designs had to be resilient and address a wide range of security requirements, as well as provide for IM and presence, audio, Web, video collaboration and voicemail.

Integration with popular business productivity applications was also considered. To meet the video conferencing requirement of up to 25 participants in a single conference, we were able to offer AvayaLive Video, the new cloud-based Scopia solution.

The marriage of IP Office Select and AvayaLive Video offers a compelling value proposition for midmarket and small companies.

Traditionally, we have presented an Avaya Aura solution and our competitors consistently propose their large enterprise solutions.

Although the RFP called for an enterprise-grade solution, we decided to take a calculated risk by proposing Avaya IP Office Select Release 9.1. This new, comprehensive solution has the capacity and features to deliver an engaging experience for basic stations to power collaborators, with mobility on virtually any device for up to 2,500 users, at a TCO level our competitors could not touch.

Here is a diagram of the proposed solution:

IP Office Select Release 9.1 Diagram

Avaya’s solution received the best overall score in the competition and was a clear winner in the TCO sub-category, which analyzes the total cost of ownership over 5 years.

For those of you who think IP Office is a solution designed exclusively for small businesses, it’s time to think again.

Matt Dodd, Avaya

This article was a guest post from Matt Dodd, Director of Strategic Architecture and Consulting at Avaya. As a member of Avaya’s Office of the CTO, Matt drives strategic architecture initiatives through consultative engagements with customers, marketing and R&D teams, with a special focus on market intelligence.

Matt has 24 years of experience in the networking, unified communications and collaboration disciplines, spanning across roles in services, technical sales, channel enablement and management. He holds a BS degree in Electronic Engineering technology.