Summer at Avaya through the Eyes of Interns

Summer in the U.S. is winding down. In stores, aisles of beach accessories are quickly being replaced with school supplies and pumpkin-scented candles. We say goodbye to vacations, neighborhood barbecues and, at Avaya, we bid a fond farewell to the interns who have worked by our sides throughout the summer months.

Avaya’s internship program aims to hire the brightest university candidates and set them up to do meaningful work. We do our best to expose our interns to a full range of corporate scenarios and opportunities, resulting in hands-on work experience within a global enterprise.

This summer, interns around the globe have graced our Avaya offices. They’ve contributed to projects that have created revenue, solutions and products. Whether working independently or with colleagues, they’ve left their mark in our Avaya world. Before they pack up and head back to school, we asked three interns at our Santa Clara headquarters to share details about their Avaya experiences. Here they’ve shared their thoughts on Avaya technology, corporate work life and our culture.

Natasha Cougoule is a rising junior at University of California, Berkeley pursuing a B.A. in economics and a minor in Portuguese. While at Avaya, she interned under the marketing operations budget team.

Avaya Summer Interns, NatashaNatasha volunteered to work at Avaya Stadium, home of the San Jose Earthquakes.

My internship experience started before I even stepped in the office when I had my first interview using Avaya Scopia®, our video conferencing solution. The use of Avaya technology became a defining theme of my work in the company. While I spent my summer at our headquarters in Santa Clara, my supervisor worked remotely from Indiana. We regularly met “face-to-face” via Scopia and utilized the service’s presentational capacities to collaborate on projects.

This level of interaction with the technologies offered by Avaya, for both internal and external use, bolstered my experience as an intern on the marketing operations team. Although I didn’t personally have anything to do with building our newest products or presenting them to the market, I was able to follow their development and marketing through the budgets I helped manage.

Beyond the specific responsibilities of my internship, Avaya’s friendly, energetic corporate culture allowed me to engage personally with our Chief Marketing Office Morag Lucey and Chief Financial Officer Dave Vellequette (a fellow Golden Bear!), as well as many of other inspiring coworkers. Even though I gained valuable work experience—more than I could have ever anticipated—what I’ll cherish and remember most are the relationships that Avaya encouraged me to form with my coworkers. I’m so grateful to have spent my summer here at Avaya.

 

Josh Vellequette is entering his senior year at The Ohio State University studying marketing with a minor in music, media and enterprise. During his time at Avaya, Josh worked under the head of digital marketing.

Avaya Summer Interns, Josh and KielyJosh and fellow co-worker, Kiely, work the Zang Meet up table welcoming guests.

Avaya gave me an experience that will greatly benefit my future in the marketing industry, not only because of what I learned but because it was the perfect time to join the Avaya team. Avaya is a known leader in telecommunication solutions. Being at Avaya for the past few months allowed me to observe the adaptability of the company and the immense effort every single employee gave to position themselves as a hub for technological innovation. I was also able to assist with Zang, a newly launched cloud communications platform service, and learn how to build brand excitement by organizing a meet-up for potential customers.

I loved how I was able to take subjects I learned in the classroom and see their real-life application in the office. Topics discussed in my classes at Ohio State, such as market research and campaign planning, came to life while working under Avaya’s head of digital marketing. Those ideas and definitions that are taught in the classroom aren’t entirely useful unless you learn how to execute them, and Avaya provided the hands-on approach that’s necessary for this industry. Not only do I feel more confident in my marketing knowledge, but now I understand what it takes to be a part of a productive team. I will always be grateful for everything Avaya has taught me.

 

Mitchell Shapero is finishing his last semester at San Jose State University with a major in business administration management. During his experience, he interned under the marketing communications director.

Four Avaya Summer InternsFrom left to right—Mitch Shapero, Marissa Ohye, Kiely Pieper, Natasha Cougoule

Throughout the internship process at Avaya, I met many awesome people, learned a variety of new things and had fun experiences in the process. From demos to briefings, seeing first-hand Avaya technology at work and being a part of these experiences has been an unforgettable way to begin my professional career. I loved being a part of the corporate culture and seeing exactly how a large business operates. As a diverse and global company, I had the opportunity to meet many new people from different backgrounds. This real-world interaction is something you can’t replicate in a classroom. I want to thank all of the people with whom I worked for an unforgettable summer!

 

While it’s easy to list the benefits an internship affords a student, we rarely look at the positive impacts it has on the company. The fresh, new perspectives we gain by opening our doors to eager learners is impossible to replicate. Their openness to branch outside their comfort zones and take on any task that’s thrown their way is an inspiring way to work–truly a jack-of-all-trades attitude that we just love at Avaya. I’ve found that their spirits are contagious, uplifting myself and our fellow colleagues.

Natasha, Josh, Mitchell and all of our Avaya interns have excelled in their positions and have raised the bar for future classes. Goodbyes are never easy, and while we’re sad to see them go, we wish all these bright, rising stars the best of luck in their education and future endeavors.

 

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Kari’s Law: An Emotional Journey Leads to a Bittersweet Ending

Our long journey leading up to the presidential signing of Kari’s Law began well before the precious life of Kari Hunt tragically ended on Dec. 1, 2013. (Learn about Kari’s story.)

For me, it actually began in the spring of 2013 when I noticed a sign on my hotel door, which read: “In case of an emergency, dial 0 for the operator.” I remember thinking, “The operator isn’t trained to handle an emergency. I should be able to dial 9-1-1 from my room phone.”

Sadly, this occurrence wasn’t an anomaly. I found it to be a common bad practice adopted by too many hotels across the United States.

There’s no doubt their intentions were good. Hotels were looking to be proactive, and they wanted to expedite not delay emergency response times. To make matters worse, direct access to 9-1-1 from Multi Line Telephone System (MLTS) was flawed because guests couldn’t dial 9-1-1 directly. They needed to dial an extra 9 just to get an outside line. That proved to be a fatal flaw in Kari’s case because her 9-year-old daughter couldn’t get through to 9-1-1. MLTS legislation also didn’t exist or, if it did, it was limited to a handful of states, and much of that dealt with the reporting location. It didn’t address the issue of access and notification.

Throughout the year, I used social media to increase awareness and drive meaningful change. I spoke at conferences and even began a podcast series dedicated to this very topic.

Then one day in December 2013, everything changed. My Google Alerts for 9-1-1 came up with a Change.org petition that was raised by Hank Hunt after his daughter Kari was brutally murdered in her hotel room.

I reached out to Hank on Facebook and offered to help him in his cause. Having an innovative tech leader like Avaya backing me increased Hank’s confidence in my ability to help him bring about the changes he sought.

My previous experience immediately proved useful, and we were able to go straight to the top at the FCC. (I had served on the Emergency Access Advisory Committee under Chairman Julius Genechowski, who had just turned the agency over to Chairman Tom Wheeler. Talk about timing!)

Following a number of tweets and letters, including an Open Letter to the FCC Chairman Wheeler, we received a call from Commissioner Ajit Pai’s office and a meeting was scheduled for Jan. 10, 2014. That meeting turned into a 45-minute discussion on the issues, the fix, and the challenges we faced.

Over the next several months, Hank and I garnered the interest of legislators in cities and states across the country: Suffolk County in Long Island, the state of Illinois, Maryland, et al.

In Texas, Avaya participated in hearings, and offered our unique expertise. We introduced the idea of a “Waiver Clause,” which stated that a business could obtain an exemption if they showed financial hardship. With the exemption was the requirement to register the make and model number of the system. This uncovered many systems that were actually capable of being compliant, and eased the adoption of the new law.

More states followed embraced the legislation—it was a full-on domino effect—except at the federal level where every attempt to bring a bill to life stalled. But then in 2018, that changed too.

After an all-night session ending on Feb. 9 on what would have been Kari’s 36th birthday, the House of Representatives passed the Senate amendment of H.R. 582, and it was officially on the way to the president of the U.S. for signature.

We quietly celebrated, knowing Kari’s murder would not be in vain.

The cherry on the cake was being invited by Hank, Kari’s father, to witness the president sign the bill into law on Feb. 16, 2018. I was both humbled and honored, and invited my former colleague Avaya Sales Engineer Dan Wilson to enjoy the moment with us. Dan had worked tirelessly on this legislation, clocking 12 miles of walking in the Maryland House and Senate.

The West Wing is everything you’d imagine: intimidating, wonderful and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It was a pleasure to not only stand beside Hank and witness the signing, but to also be in the company of people who supported our endeavor since day one: Ajit Pai, my good friend and now Chairman of the FCC, Congressman Louie Gohmert who introduced the bill, as well as other Congressional reps with interest in public safety. After reading a prepared statement, President Trump uncapped the ceremonial pen and placed it on the paper. As it started to move, we were overcome with emotion. To think, 50 years to the day, and quite nearly the minute, following the first ever 9-1-1 call, Kari’s Law had become the “Law of the Land.”

Transforming Online Meetings for Team Collaboration

I find it interesting how companies choose to measure team collaboration. Most use surveys, some productivity data, and others standard review processes. Yet team collaboration is about so much more than all of this. If you ask us, it’s about putting people first.

We mean this quite literally. It’s important to provide employees with a suite of face-to-face collaboration capabilities that enable dynamic, real-time team collaboration. Communication staples like voice and chat are surely important, along with the endless other tools teams use to connect and share information. Meeting via video, however, is arguably the best way to collaborate, build relationships, create momentum and build morale. Face-to-face collaboration may not always be needed, but companies will want to make sure they have the best tools in place for when it is.

When done right, online meetings enhance team collaboration in several ways. Consider the most basic of them all: a good part of communication is non-verbal. Being able to observe team members’ body language can help prevent miscommunication and connect across languages and cultures. The technology has also evolved to the point where teams can flexibly share data, documents and other project details via screen sharing or virtual whiteboards. All the while, there’s the opportunity to initiate private chat sessions between team members to discuss simultaneously.

The bottom line: online meetings enable authentic human interaction that delivers real value, time and cost savings, and better business outcomes.

Now, imagine being able to quickly implement an easy-to-use, cost-effective service that skips the capital investment and technical hassle of a traditional video solution. This is exactly what Avaya Equinox Meetings Online offers: a cloud-delivered application that allows users—both employees and outside contacts—to connect with their browsers (no plug-ins required) or mobile apps to effortlessly initiate and/or participate in online meetings. The service places priority back on people, which is where it belongs. Simple as that.

Don’t believe us? Read Nemertes Q4 2017 Enterprise Business Value Matrix for Unified Communications and Collaboration to see what they had to say. If you like what you see, or if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to our team for more information via our webchat.

The Easy Button for IoT

I am sure that I don’t have to tell you how the Internet of Things (IoT) is revolutionizing our world. Stop by any electronics retailer and you will find smart TVs, smart lights, smart refrigerators, and smart thermostats. Open up the brochure for a new car and you will find more space dedicated to intelligent sensors than horsepower. Tour a modern manufacturing plant and you will quickly discover that nearly every machine used in production has been equipped with an IP address. From the consumer to the enterprise, IoT is the driving force of innovation.

Of course, there is a dark side to this revolutionary technology: It’s not all that easy. As a consumer, it’s not a big deal to have one smart dryer that sends a text message when your clothes are dry. It’s also pretty simple to have your refrigerator email you a photo of its contents. In these cases, it’s just you and your machine.

However, what if you had a thousand dryers and ten thousand refrigerators. Let’s take it further. What if you were American Airlines and your fleet of airplanes had five hundred thousand different sensors reporting information every second. Now, imagine that some devices reported data using Bluetooth while others used Zigbee, WiMAX, LTE, WiFi, and NFC. Want to make it even more challenging? These different sensors report data reading using SOAP, REST, WebSockets, and a myriad of proprietary protocols. It quickly becomes an engineering nightmare to collect, store, and take the appropriate actions on this constant stream of data.

One Bite at a Time

Question. How do you eat an elephant? Answer. One bite at a time.

As with an elephant, the best way to conquer the IoT problem is to break it down into bite-sized pieces. Instead of trying to directly deal with all those different sensors and their unique forms of communication, have those sensors talk to gateways that understand multiple IoT dialects. Those gateways could then normalize the data before sending it off to a central cloud repository. Next, wrap the IoT cloud with web services that allow for a consistent and uniform way to access IoT data. Finally, use those web services to create a suite of applications for data visualization, event processing, analytics, etc.

Now, instead of being inundated with terabytes of data that may or may not be important, you only see what you need to see and only when you need to see it. You also have a scalable platform that allows you to add new sensors without having to constantly redesign and redeploy your business applications.

At Arrow Systems Integration (ASI), an Avaya A.I.Connect partner, we call this distributed architecture of sensors, gateways, and cloud services Arrow Connect™.

Arrow Connect

Arrow Connect is a software architecture that connects any device over any protocol to any cloud. Designed and developed by Arrow with security, scale, flexibility, device management, multi-tenancy, hierarchy, open APIs, and extensibility as its core principles, Arrow Connect is helping customers across multiple industries bring their products to market faster.

The Arrow Connect software development kit (SDK) helps enterprises leverage the full capabilities of any device while an extensible software gateway allows developers to add support for protocols and sensors not currently supported by Arrow Connect.

The Arrow Connect cloud platform enables secure provisioning and management of all its devices. It runs on multiple public cloud platforms and seamlessly integrates with Microsoft Azure, IBM Watson Bluemix/Softlayer, Amazon Web Services, and private data center solutions.

Breeze and Zang Workflows

While support for RESTful web services is essential to being an open and secure cloud solution, this comes with a price and that price is complexity. Despite being an open standard understood by most software developers, the fact that you must be a developer to use web services confines them to a very select group of people.

In our quest to find every possible way to simplify IoT, ASI has partnered with Avaya to add support for Arrow Connect IoT devices, sensors, and gateways into Avaya Breeze and the Zang Workflow Designer. With both of these platforms, access to IoT data and Arrow Connect services becomes as simple as drag and drop and non-developers can create powerful IoT solutions in a matter of minutes. Better still, this simplification does not come at the cost of accuracy, reliability, speed, security, or scalability. The visual tasks embedded in these workflow tools employ the same Arrow Connect web services a skilled software developer would use. The difference is that there is no need to learn Java, .Net, Python, or any other programming language.

 

The Easy Button for IoT

With integrated workflow technology, you can quickly turn an idea on a whiteboard into a fully functional and easily deployable solution.

Next Steps

McKinsey recently said that “Any business that fails to invest heavily in the IoT in the next 10 years is unlikely to be able to remain competitive.” While these may seem like strong words, industry after industry has taken them to heart and the IoT revolution is everywhere. As I stated at the beginning of this article, IoT is becoming pervasive for both consumers and businesses.

The simplification, scalability, and security of IoT offered by Avaya and Arrow Systems Integration helps an enterprise to create the solutions it needs to enhance its business, grow its customer base, and stay competitive.

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.