Avaya and IAUG: Better Together at 2017’s Avaya ENGAGE Event

Victor Bohnert Victor Bohnert is the Executive Director of the International Avaya Users Group. He has nearly 20 years of experience in building and managing customer communities in the tech sector and has led several organizational turnarounds and mergers. Before joining IAUG, he was Executive Director of the International Nortel Networks Users Association, and helped guide three independent groups through the merger that resulted in IAUG.

 

The idea of collaboration is much more than a term used to describe the latest communication strategy. It describes the interdependencies of individuals or groups of individuals working together to achieve success … it means 1+1=3.

Collaboration is at the core of IAUG’s mission. We bring together our members in order to give them access to the collective knowledge and experience of the WHOLE Avaya ecosystem—customers, partners, and Avaya experts. This gives those that are active in our community a competitive advantage.

More than a mission, this is a strategy that permeates all that we do. To that end, I am excited about the recent alignment between IAUG’s flagship customer event, Avaya ENGAGEsm, and Avaya’s global corporate event strategy. IAUG has been working closely with Avaya over the past several months to increase the value of Avaya ENGAGE, but also extend the relevance of the event beyond just Avaya customers and partners.

Beginning in 2017, Avaya and IAUG will come together to host their first truly joint event. Avaya ENGAGE will still focus on driving value to Avaya customers and partners. But with other Avaya events coming together under the Avaya ENGAGE banner, customers, partners, analysts and other industry experts will have unparalleled access to industry knowledge and expertise—and of course more opportunities to network with each other.

Additionally, the event will be held in February, earlier in the year than past events—making Avaya ENGAGE 2017 not only one of the largest industry events, but one of the year’s first. Product releases and industry projections will help our members get a jump on the year.

This collaboration is more than an event. It signals the deepening relationship between IAUG and Avaya. Still separate organizations, but strategically aligned at all levels to ensure the greatest return.

Collaboration is just the process … Avaya ENGAGE is the outcome.

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Living In A Digital World

We live in a digital world. Just short of being pixelated or virtual ourselves, the things around us continue to get smarter, faster, more connected, and increasingly digital. Customer relationships are digital. Business channels are digital. Our competitors are digital. My refrigerator is digital!

Communications transmit across different channels and platforms in the marketplace. That includes human-to-human, human-to-AI, machine-to-machine, and also machine-to-AI. A lot of this is driven by digital transformation, the lifeblood for how business will operate and succeed at living and conducting business in a digital world. Mobility is a catalyst speeding this process up considerably, but it’s not the only driving force behind the evolution.

Among enterprise decision makers, 85% feel they a two-year timeframe to make significant digital transformation inroads before suffering financially and/or falling behind their competitors.

Machine learning, artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, and big data systems all contribute to what keeps the entire process of digital transformation moving forward and becoming more powerful. But how did we get here and where are we going? What are the current catalysts of a digital transformation and how can you become a part of the story? First we must start with the customer.

A Customer-in Approach

As we inch ever closer to 2020 and beyond, more innovation will be necessary to provide the kind of omni-experiences that facilitate an improved customer experience in the enterprise. Kick starting that innovation among your own teams is the key. But the question is How?

Steve Jobs said it best. “You’ve got to start with the customer/citizen experience and work backwards to the technology.” In other words, customizing and personalizing the user experience based on intelligence and insight varied touchpoints is the key to your success. This is called a customer-in approach, which prioritizes the customer journey, and focuses on improving engagement. Of course, the top three digital transformation drivers—which you likely are familiar with—include an optimized customer experience, speed or timeline of innovation, and time to market.

And by 2018, 80% of all B2C companies will have developed immersive, authentic omni-experiences for their customers, partners, and employees—60% of B2B companies will have done the same.

A customer-in approach to engagement focuses on the customer journey throughout the buying cycle to ultimately identify what technology or processes your organization needs to be agile, deliver contextually relevant experiences, and be successful. Over the next few years the following technologies will drive the next wave of change for customer-in strategies and overall engagement initiatives.

Artificial Intelligence

AI is a broad term representing many technology components that forward-thinking businesses must become more familiar with. Some of the major areas associated with AI are: Machine Learning (ML), Natural Language Processing (NLP), speech support, robotics, and vision. AI shares results in real time with other machines, so they are continually learning as compared to static or human-entry database systems.

AI and ML are expected to grow from a $6 billion industry to $36 billion by 2025. Which explain why Forrester predicted a 300% increase in investment in AI for 2017. AI, ML, and MR systems are transforming how we communicate, how we learn, and how we become more operationally effective. More importantly, automation can be used to improve the speed and quality of delivery for organizations that want to implement these technologies within their existing processes.

When you think about your customers’ interactions with your company, AI will help predict and prescribe occurrences or next steps based on previous experiences. Informed decisions cannot happen without the necessary information, data, and predictive analytics being routed through smart, connected machines and then back to your teams.

Internet of Things

IoT devices can collect data, exchange information, and with the help of analytics execute actions, automatically to trigger desired outcomes. IoT and connected devices play into a data-driven culture that is fast-paced, scalable, and optimized for driving efficient business outcomes. AI and IoT then combine to appropriately calculate, calibrate, and connect shared information that is needed to become smarter and faster.

The IDC estimates 200 billion devices will be connected by 2020, punctuating the impact IoT already has and will have in the digital universe. Now is the time to think about and strategize long-term implications that go beyond just mobility for this new landscape.

With the rise of IoT in our homes, our workplaces, and everywhere in between, organizations need an omni-device go-forward strategy to interact with customers and successfully optimize the customer experience from a product and services perspective.

Blockchain

Blockchain and cryptocurrency are game changers for gatekeepers and governments alike. C-suite companies need to have blockchain on their radar screens as they look to transform and provide a secure, customer experience. IBM alone has invested over $200 million in blockchain-powered IoT technology.

To know how and why blockchain matters in terms of digitization, you must understand what roles it plays in the current market.

  • The blockchain model can and will transform how business is conducted, or more specifically how transactions play out.
  • Blockchain has the capacity to scale and enhance modern digital security, especially for financial-related data.
  • Blockchain can serve as the foundation of next-gen identities or digital IDs, and integrates well with advanced forms of authentication.
  • It is not regulated, maintained, or owned by a single party.

That last point is arguably one of the most important aspects of blockchain. The nature of the technology means individual companies don’t own customer data—at least not all of it. It also means they have to securely connect to the blockchain in order to read, access or share it. The core data cannot be altered, even by the owner, as a blockchain is only meant to keep information updated and synced in essence.

But it’s not just customer data that brands would have access to through a blockchain. It can also be many other forms of data including product and transaction history. In this way, blockchain affords more visibility into the supply chain of a business or campaign, and how it influences the market as a whole.

You can see the true potential in the growing adoption of the technology, across many industries from finance to supply and fulfillment. Unsurprisingly, the Worldwide Blockchain Technology Market is expected to see a CAGR of 58.7% between 2016 and 2024.

Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity requires a holistic approach with technical and non-technical solutions to protect integrity, authentication, and confidentiality of customer’s data. These digital transformation initiatives are reinventing the way companies operate and manage customer, team, and employee experiences across the organization.

As identified, digital transformation leads to a proliferation of connected devices and connected environments that support these human-to-machine, machine-to-machine, and machine-to-human protocols. Living in a digital world means in addition to securing network perimeters, we also need to safeguard the data that is spreading across these connected devices, the cloud, and other systems that harness and transmit more and more each day.

Cybercrime damages will cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021. Progressive companies enacting digital transformation initiatives need to mitigate cybersecurity risks that could potentially and fatally damage customer experience, customer trust, and their bottom lines. It’s important for organizations to remain relevant and embrace digital models, but safety and security must both be important factors in that transformation.

Doing Business in A Digital World

When we consider living and conducting business in a digital world and providing advanced customer experiences, there’s a fine line between the major and minor technologies and experiences you have to deliver to your users.

The digital transformation or modern customer experience process relies on more advanced tools and systems to provide a holistic and reliable experience. In other words, if you’re looking to make a shift to digital—like coming up with a mobile customer journey—you need to be acutely aware of how these technologies are connected and what roles they play in the bigger picture.

Digital transformation is a mindset, but it’s also a long, difficult journey that requires plenty of innovation, business unit alignment, and top-rated services, all backed by transformative technology. Still, it’s not something you can ignore. It must be honored, lest you fall behind the competition. By the end of 2017, two-thirds of all CEOs from Global 2000 companies will have digital transformation anchored at the center of their corporate strategies.

We will be exploring these themes and more at the annual Avaya Engage® 2018 as we lead with digital transformation into the new year. We invite you to join us in person at Avaya ENGAGE 2018 January 28-31 in New Orleans. We are partnering with the International Avaya Users Group (IAUG) to connect more than 3,000 customers, partners, industry analysts, and executives from around the globe. We are focused on getting you the most out of your Avaya solutions, providing you with effective use cases to make better business decisions, and informing you on the latest future trends in digital experience.

A Note of Thanks for Your Support of #AvayaENGAGE Mexico

There’s an old saying, “Challenging times reveal your true friends.” In the months following our debt restructuring, customers and partners have never wavered in their confidence in Avaya, most recently when 3,000 joined us in Mexico City for #AvayaENGAGE Mexico (formerly Avaya Evolutions). This incredible show of support validates what our competitors don’t want you to believe: Avaya has friends in all the right places, and they’re only growing in numbers!

We have a wonderful video reel and photos that highlight experiences from #AvayaENGAGE, from our CEO Kevin Kennedy’s opening keynote address, which was streamed live over Facebook, to presentations from our own Gary Barnett and Laurent Philonenko, including an exclusive CIO forum lunch with more than 100 regional CIOs. This moment proved to be the perfect opportunity to drive conversations around innovation and transformation on a panel with our Avaya leadership team and Uri Levine, founder of Waze. In addition, guest speakers Dr. Jaime Serra Puche, former secretary of treasury and public credit economist at Yale University; and Alondra de la Parra, Mexican founder and artistic director of the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas, kept audiences engaged until early evening.

Believe me, ask anyone who was with us in Mexico and they’ll tell you … the energy was contagious. As Maiara Munhoz from Frost and Sullivan put it, “It’s great what I’ve seen here at #AvayaENGAGE. Many companies speak about their greatness but Avaya is showing they are taking the digital transformation seriously. I love its transparency … a thing that many companies don’t have.”

Feedback like this is gratifying … motivating … inspiring.

#AvayaENGAGE Mexico delivered on so many levels thanks to the people who make the work we do every day worthwhile: our customers, our partners, and our employees. I couldn’t be more proud to work for a company that revels in working together—side by side—all of us rolling up our sleeves and becoming immersed and invested in solving today’s challenges and goals.

It is because of all of you that Avaya continues to create fresh, innovative engagement solutions on the hottest technologies, in the cloud or on premises.

It is because of you and your confidence in us that we’re able to continue to show our #AvayaStrength in the market.

And it is for you that we remain committed to becoming an even stronger Avaya in the future.

Thank you for being with us on our journey. Get ready now for #AvayaENGAGE 2018 because I promise you this: “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”

Avaya and IAUG: Coming Together for a Better User Group Experience

Marilyn ShuckMarilyn Shuck serves as a Director on the IAUG Board, president of the Puget Sound Avaya Users Group, and as a UC Engineer at the University of Washington.

 

 

The combination of the Avaya Technology Forum (ATF) and the International Avaya Users Group (IAUG) flagship event, Avaya ENGAGE, is generating a lot of buzz. As IAUG members, it’s exciting for us because we’ll be there as Avaya is announcing new products and have better access to Avaya. We’re also looking forward to bringing in more technical expertise, session choice, and potential new members to IAUG.

In the past, ATF was held in February or March, and Avaya ENGAGE was in June. By the time we assembled for Avaya ENGAGE, new product lines would have been out for several months. Now, we’ll get to hear the latest announcements. Since we’re partnering with Avaya, we’ll have much more access to them, getting our questions answered, getting trained, and seeing the new products in action.

We’re also able to offer so many more sessions, some with more technical expertise. ATF has historically been a technical conference, and our IAUG attendees will have a choice of breakout sessions that will add a new dimension to the education they’ll already be receiving.

It also makes sense to hold both of these events under one umbrella. There’s some overlap between ATF attendees and Avaya ENGAGE attendees, and in organizations where travel budgets are tight or where the same person is a technical support specialist and a user, you no longer have to choose which event to attend.

Additionally, we’re excited about the possibility of introducing new members to IAUG. Some ATF attendees may not have known about our existence, but now not only will they have the chance to learn more about us but they can network with us. We can continue to share learning opportunities and even bring a whole new quality of technical users to IAUG.

Make no mistake, the foundation of the event has not changed. This is still planned with the Avaya customer in mind. However, it signals our deepening relationship by aligning all customer events.

This is going to be one of those cases where what happens in Las Vegas won’t stay in Vegas. Avaya and IAUG are aligning, and it’s going to provide valuable education and opportunities for customers, IAUG members, partners, and Avaya. The benefits of attending will resonate throughout your organization, so plan to join us in February to learn, network, and return full of ways to make the most of your Avaya implementations. You can learn more at http://engage.iaug.org.