Experience the Future of Customer Experience at Call Center Week

The stage is set for Avaya customers and channel partners to see the future of customer experience (CX) at Call Center Week held at the Mirage Resort in Las Vegas, June 28-29. (You don’t want to gamble with customer engagement strategies—save your bets for after hours at the black jack table.) The show features two full days of live demonstrations and interactive theater presentations. Plus there will be numerous opportunities to meet subject matter experts in the invitation-only, relaxed-social-setting Avaya Innovation Lounge. Have an Avaya waiter serve you your favorite drink as you learn how to serve your customers well with our latest solutions.

Visiting an Avaya booth at any tradeshow is a unique experience for many reasons. And Call Center Week will be no different:

  • See live demos of world class customer engagement software and services. See Avaya’s latest customer engagement solutions available for on-premises, cloud, private cloud, or hybrid implementations. Meet the experts who can help you evaluate new ways for serving customers in the digital transformation era. Just don’t use your digital device at the poker table.
  • Explore your customer experience. Learn how you can design, build and run omnichannel contact center solutions with our flagship Avaya Oceana™ Solution for customer engagement. Plus, you can meet Avaya and salesforce team members as they demonstrate the handling of simultaneous customer transactions over all channels.
  • See how well you know your customers. With Avaya Oceananalytics™ insights you can see beyond traditional metrics to real-time and historical reporting solutions for contact centers. Learn how to analyze customer transactional data to identify new ways to leverage all customer interactions.
  • Imagine applications you can create in a day. Learn how to develop applications in just minutes using the Avaya Breeze™ platform and Zang™ cloud services. Design, build and use applications in less than a day.
  • See the future of IoT. Learn how IoT devices are playing in increasing role in the overall customer experience with the communication enablement of digital devices. Learn how contact centers play an increasingly important role in an organization’s IoT strategy.
  • Explore Avaya Oceana software for any business, anywhere. See Avaya Oceana demonstrations for any vendor’s on-premises, cloud, or hybrid contact center solution. Learn how Avaya Oceana will complement the investments you already have in your global customer engagement strategy.

What’s a trip to Las Vegas without going to a live show? After you see Terry Fator’s entertaining comedy show at the Mirage, we would love for you to spend time in the Avaya Innovation Lounge Theater. Join us for several interactive presentations on a variety of topics suitable for customers using any contact center solution. Here’s a taste of what you can catch in our Innovation Lounge Theater:

  • What’s Your Customer Experience?
    How does the contact center play an imperative role in the overall customer experience? Learn from the experts as they outline best practices for defining the customer experience.
  • Avaya and Salesforce Global Partnership
    Learn how Avaya plus Salesforce equals one integrated solution for customer engagement. Meet Salesforce and Avaya experts as they outline our global partnership for customers.
  • Avaya and DXC Global Cloud Customer Experience
    Learn how DXC (the business formation of HP and CSC) is leveraging Avaya innovations for their CX on Demand cloud services. Meet the experts as they outline our global partnership.
  • Internet of Everything – IoT and the Customer Experience
    The Internet of Things is changing the way customers interact with businesses. From voice assistants, to communication enabled appliances, learn how IoT is impacting the experience.
  • Agent Attribute-Based Routing with Customer Journey Mapping – Leveraging Every Customer Interaction
    Learn how agents can have a 360 degree view of all customer transactions, including email, chat, voice and SMS, so agents don’t have to ask questions they should already know. Meet the experts as they outline strategies for enabling agents to serve customers over all channels.
  • Gaining Deeper Insight into Customer Behavior with Business Intelligence
    Look beyond the traditional contact center real-time and historical reports and learn how Avaya Oceananalytics provides a deeper view into customer interactions. See how you can identify new ways to leverage customer transactions to identify new ways to serve them in the future.
  • Cloud Communication Applications Built in an Hour
    What communications applications can you build in an hour? Learn how any customer can leverage cloud-based application development services and add new capabilities to existing contact center operations, serving customers in new ways.
  • Avaya’s Cloud Applications Strategy – Have It Your Way
    Learn how Avaya solutions are available via the cloud, private cloud, on-premises or via hybrid configurations. Meet Avaya cloud experts as they outline flexible options for any customer engagement deployment strategy.
  • Avaya and Plantronics Partnership in the Cloud – Sounds Clear for Everyone

Hear why the advantages of cloud solutions from Avaya and Plantronics working together are crystal clear for contact center operators. Meet Avaya and Plantronics experts as they outline how the partnership continues to evolve, resulting in new unique services for serving customers.

Before you sit down at the blackjack table, spend some time with our contact center experts. Meeting the Professional Services team and industry analysts is always a safe bet. Join us for scheduled meetings with the teams involved in some of the most sophisticated customer engagement deployments in the world. You’ll have an opportunity to hold interactive discussions and pick up ideas about effective contact center strategies that will work for your business.

We hope to see you at Call Center Week in the Avaya Innovation Lounge. If you can’t make it to a show, an Avaya associate or partner can demo our solutions in person or online. To schedule a demonstration at Call Center Week or at another time, please email me at blgutnick@avaya.com.

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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.