Zang Goes Global With Support of International Numbers

I’m excited to announce the addition of 57 new countries where the Zang platform is now available. With this expansion, Zang is now available to millions of new organizations and billions of new users from around the world who can add voice and SMS capabilities to their business processes, mobile and web applications as well as their services.

Hundreds of Zang-developed applications are in use today with dozens developed since Zang’s official launch in March. And with 71% of enterprises creating their own mobile apps, many businesses—small and large—are finding the extreme ease of use and utility of Zang a “must have” part of their application development strategies.

Since our official launch this spring, we’ve seen very creative applications and services built using the Zang platform, and that number is just going to grow with global availability. Some of the latest Zang-developed apps available in the Apple App Store today include:

We are thrilled to extend the Zang platform globally and work with organizations that desire to build and deploy communications apps for an endless number of potential use cases. For more information about Zang, visit www.zang.io

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Building Text Notification Apps with Zang

Here is something you need to know about me. I hate voicemail. I don’t like leaving them and more importantly, I don’t like listening to them. In fact, if you were to leave one for me, the odds are that I wouldn’t even listen to it. Instead, I will text, email, or call (in that preferred order) asking, “What do you want to talk to me about?” I don’t do this to be rude. I simply find that listening to a voicemail usually forces me to text, email, or call anyway. So, why not cut to the chase and save everyone a lot of time?

Therefore, when I was tasked to build a notification system for the recent Avaya ENGAGE conference, voice and voice messages were the last things on my mind. I also wasn’t all that interested in using email. I expect that I am pretty typical in that a great deal of the emails I receive are either never read or wind up unseen in my junk folder. And who knows how many are stopped by a network spam filter before they even reach me?

This, of course, leaves me with text. While I have no problem ignoring the message waiting light on my desk telephone (I honestly can’t remember when it hasn’t been glowing red), I feel compelled to look at my iPhone within seconds of receiving a text message. Why? Because I know that text messages are never long, typically get right to the point, and can be responded to with a minimal amount of effort on my part—win, win, win.

So, when I eventually sat down to create my ENGAGE notification system, I turned to text. More specifically, I turned to the Zang Workflow Designer and within minutes, I had a working prototype up and running. A few hours later, I finalized my design and that prototype quickly evolved into a production-quality application. With my Zang workflow, ENGAGE attendees could register with the service to receive periodic text messages throughout the conference about upcoming breakout sessions and other tidbits of information I felt were worth sharing.

I loved the simplicity of the system and the users liked the timeliness of the information.

A Good Idea Takes on a Life of its Own

Once word of my ENGAGE application got out, I was inundated with inquiries about how text notification could be applied to other uses. Right off the bat, I was asked if my IT department could use it to send messages about system failures and recoveries. My answer was an unqualified “yes.”

Think about it. When an email system goes down, what good is sending an email to the affected users? Absolutely none whatsoever.

My next request came while I was vacationing with my wife on Sanibel Island. Every year, my company, Arrow Systems Integration, hosts a golf tournament and the organizers wanted to use text messaging as a way for golfers to communicate with their team captains and for the team captains to send important messages to the golfers. Despite the fact that I was on vacation, I was intrigued enough with the idea to sit down at my PC and create an application that enabled the following:

  • Golfers could register with the notification system by texting the word “Golf” to the application. The application would then store the golfers’ cell phone numbers in a database.
  • During the tournament, golfers could send in mulligan requests by texting their request to the application. The request would be relayed to the team captains. Each team was assigned a limited number of mulligans and the captains could text back if the mulligan was granted or denied.
  • The golfers could also text other information to the team captains. For instance, they could send texts informing their captains of birdies and eagles. Of course, the chances are greater that they would be asking for the beer cart to be sent their way.
  • Besides managing mulligan requests, the team captains could use the application to broadcast text messages to the golfers. For example, the captain of the Blue team could inform his or her golfers of how they were doing and provide any necessary pep talks. More importantly, they could also text back the whereabouts of the previously requested beer cart.

Even with the extra features, I had this application up and running almost as quickly as the ENGAGE version. I scratched out my design on a piece of paper, and before my wife was out of bed asking why I was working on my PC, I turned that design into a functioning Zang workflow. Over the next couple of days, I tested it until I was happy that it was going to do exactly what I wanted it to do.

Mischief Managed

I don’t expect the requests for variations of these two applications to stop anytime soon. Like me, people recognize the power, immediacy, and simplicity of text notifications. They also realize that the use cases are nearly endless. Today it might be golf, but tomorrow it’s team notification, building closures, meeting reminders, and who knows what else? All I am sure of is that the requests will most likely wind up on my desk and my platform of choice will be Zang.

Andrew Prokop is the Director of Emerging Technologies at Arrow Systems Integration. Andrew is an active blogger and his widely-read blog, SIP Adventures, discusses every imaginable topic in the world of unified communications. Follow Andrew on Twitter at @ajprokop, and read his blog, SIP Adventures.

Your Avaya Developer Journey Starts Here

STEM. Hackathons. Hour of Code. Oh, my…

I’ve been in the developer and ecosystem space pretty much my entire career, and I can’t recall a time when there was a greater focus on strengthening and expanding skills in software development with new audiences. I’m excited to see Avaya making such efforts across our Team and Customer Engagement portfolios with new and expanded APIs, toolkits, and supporting educational materials for Avaya Breeze, Avaya Oceana, and Avaya Vantage.

Start Your Own Journey—It’s Free!

Many of our customers are aware of the value of the DevConnect “Compliance Tested” designation used by our DevConnect Technology Partners to indicate the proven interoperability of their products. But you may not realize that DevConnect isn’t just a testing and partner program. It’s a full-fledged and open developer program for all types of developers looking to leverage Avaya technology. You can freely browse all our developer content and it takes just a few seconds to register when you want to download a specific SDK. And it doesn’t cost you anything to do this.

For example, we’ve added online developer documentation and code samples like integrating Desk Phone Services into custom applications using Avaya Breeze™ Client SDK, which applies to Android-based mobile devices. And to go alongside that, we’ve expanded our Forum Boards to include discussions on developing custom clients for the Avaya Vantage™ Device, as well as made available a full set of source code for a basic Vantage client using the Breeze Client SDK.

But Wait… There’s More!

With the introduction of the Avaya Breeze™ Platform and the Avaya Oceana™ Solution, Avaya’s made available even more resources for developers to leverage in the form of Avaya Collaboratory and the Avaya Snapp Store.

Avaya Collaboratory provides cloud-based, fully configured developer environments to support jump-starting your projects and evaluating the powerful capabilities of Avaya Breeze and the Avaya Breeze Client SDK. Whether building snap-ins using the Java SDK for Avaya Breeze, or learning to create complex workflows in Avaya Engagement Designer, a Collaboratory environment gives you a full Avaya Aura and Breeze software stack to play around with.

And if you’re looking for additional pre-build snap-ins or workflows, there’s the Avaya Snapp Store. Similar to the DevConnect Marketplace, the Snapp Store highlights a range of Avaya-build and third-party snap-ins for Avaya Breeze or Avaya Oceana environments. Some snap-ins can even be purchased directly from the Snapp Store itself, so you can drop them into your own Collaboratory or Breeze environment in a matter of minutes.

And There’s Even More Coming

We’ve been running some very successful hackathon events around Avaya Breeze, Vantage, and Zang in the past few months, so keep your eyes open for more opportunities to get hands on with new Avaya offers. Note that Avaya Learning has introduced a variety of training courses specifically aimed at Breeze. There are also courses for Avaya Breeze Client SDK developers—on Android and Windows and on iOS and macOS, so Avaya developers can continue to build skills on these new and powerful products.

Keep watching the Avaya Developer blog for deeper insights from key technical leads for many of these products, as well as insight into how our customers and partners are leveraging these new technologies through their own application development efforts.

And even if you aren’t yet ready for the latest and greatest of what Avaya has to offer, visit the DevConnect portal—you may be surprised by what you’ll find for the Avaya products you’re currently using.

Five magical facts about the NORAD Tracks Santa Program

Illustrating the true magic of Christmas, this will be the 61st consecutive year that eager and anxious little boys and girls call the NORAD hotline (1- 877-HI-NORAD) to pepper operators with vital questions covering everything from Santa’s arrival time, to the speed of his sleigh, to the amount of cookie weight he gains throughout the night.  

Last year, the NORAD Tracks Santa Program received a record number of calls, more than 141,000 over a 23-hour period, and the 1,500+ volunteers who will be manning the phones this Christmas Eve are expecting even more this holiday season.

While most of us have heard of this whimsical program by now, we know very little else other than the fact it makes us smile ear to ear. Therefore, in celebration of the NORAD Tracks Santa Program, here are five little-known facts about the initiative that has become a big holiday tradition for parents and children around the world:

1. It all started by accident!

NORAD Tracks Santa began more than 60 years ago with a simple typo. A Sears department store ad promoting a December 24th Santa hotline mistakenly listed the number of a top-secret phone line inside Continental Air Defense Command, a department in Colorado in charge of tracking airborne objects worldwide. Colonel Harry Shoup was on duty that night. Instead of telling the kids that they dialed the wrong number Shoup had his team “check the radar,” find Santa’s location and share the information with every child who called. Since then, thousands of volunteers and corporate contributors have helped NORAD keep the magic alive – turning the program into an enduring and beloved annual tradition. 

2. Secret files on Santa?

Ever wonder how Santa can travel the world in 24 hours? What goes into his cutting-edge sleigh? How does he get down chimneys? Curious kids sure do, and lucky for them, all the answers are posted on NORADSanta.org. According to the website, while Santa’s flying over the United States, American NORAD fighter pilots in the F-15s, F16s or F-22s get the thrill of flying with the bearded big man and his famous reindeer. While Santa of course flies faster than any jet fighter, NORAD confirms he slows down and waves during the escort.

3. Military-grade technology supports the Santa tracking

As you may or may not know, NORAD stands for North American Aerospace Defense Command, a military operation run jointly by the United States and Canada that conducts aerospace warning, aerospace control and maritime warning in defense of the continent. Yeah, so serious stuff! But here’s the real amazing part – volunteers use Avaya Customer Engagement technology to respond to the thousands of kids calling the hotline. That’s the same technology used to support the important mission of the NORAD Operations Center at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo., and other U.S. government agencies serving the American people. As a result, it has been extensively tested by the Department of Defense Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC) and is certified to be Santa-ready.

4. Volunteers hardly have time to catch their breath!

Volunteers working 157 contact center seats handled nearly 141,000 calls from 234 countries worldwide in 2015—which works out to about 40 calls per person, per hour. Volunteers typically sign up for two-hour shifts, and in the past First Lady Michelle Obama actually volunteered to take calls on (877) HI-NORAD. The phone lines open at 6 a.m. Eastern on Dec. 24, and will run through the early morning hours of Dec. 25.

5. Set up a call from Santa Claus

If tracking his location isn’t enough for your little one/s, this year you can actually use our free Zang Forget Me Not- Santa Edition service to send your child a pre-recorded voice message from Santa. While it’s not a part of the NORAD Tracks Santa Program, parents (or grandparents!) can use the service to set-up a message in less than five minutes with only a browser and a phone. From www.zang.io/northpole simply enter your telephone phone number, enter the recipient’s telephone number and pick the time you would like the recording to be delivered. When your child answers the phone, the pre-recorded greeting from Santa will automatically play. And if your family is busy and you happen to miss the call, the greeting will be directed to voicemail to listen to at a later time.

Happy holidays to you and your loved ones!