Eric RossmanJuly 10, 2019

The Brave New World of Open Ecosystems: How Every Business Can Benefit

In February 2011, then Nokia CEO Stephen Elop wrote a candid and direct letter to the company’s 130K employees. In what has become known in business lore as “the burning platform email,” Elop likens Nokia’s current situation to a man waking up to a loud explosion while stationed on a now-burning oil platform in the middle of the North Sea. He explains that the man must make a choice: to either burn on the platform or jump 30 meters (100 feet) into freezing water. He decides to jump, surviving the fall and freezing water to eventually be rescued. The man’s behavior was extraordinary, yet as Elop explains, extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.

At the time of the letter, things were not ordinary at Nokia. The company’s smartphone market share was around 24% which, while seemingly good, had been at a high of 48% just a few years earlier in 2007 (the year Apple introduced the first iPhone). Nokia’s share would plummet to 3% in 2013 (not down 3%, total 3%). In the letter, Elop wrote, “Our competitors aren’t taking market share with devices; they are taking market share with an entire ecosystem.” He continued, “Apple disrupted the market by redefining the smartphone and attracting developers.”

Apple is just one of many market leaders embracing an ecosystem approach that harnesses the power of developers for growth and innovation. Google, for example, has over 2 million active applications and websitesleveraging its Google Maps API each week; an ecosystem that contributed to more than 300% growth of the service in just two years. Today, 70% of top performing companies strongly agree that the use of APIs is strategic and are investing in developer programs as a result. 

The power of an ecosystem is something that Avaya has long believed in, and established its DevConnect Program in the early 2000s. The mission of DevConnect is to create and support an unparalleled network of leading technology companies that build innovative third-party applications that extend the value of Avaya solutions. The program supports independent software vendors (ISVs), independent hardware vendors (IHVs), system integrators (SIs), service partners (SPs) and enterprise IT developers creating customer value through Avaya’s open and standards-based interfaces. 

Our customers benefit in being able to leverage the power of multiple innovators to quickly build custom applications. The program has grown to support over 100,000 developer partners and 350 DevConnect technology partners, many of which can be found in the DevConnect MarketPlace. Our customers ask for the ‘DevConnect Stamp,’ which represents tested solutions that we document with an application note that our customers and business partners know how to configure the solution. 

Avaya also has a related initiative called A.I.Connect, which brings together an ecosystem of vendors and developers that are taking an active part in building AI-driven solutions. Specifically, A.I.Connect aims to accelerate the adoption of AI solutions in the contact center and unified communications industries (research shows, for example, that 94% of organizations believe effective AI can transform the performance of their contact center).

A.I.Connect extends relationships we’ve had for more than a decade with our DevConnect partners, bringing a sharper focus to those companies that are already applying AI capabilities through products that interoperate and integrate with Avaya’s technology and product suites. We have solutions with Google, Salesforce, Afiniti, Nuance and Verint to name a few.

For example, Avaya’s partnership with Google blends Google’s Contact Center AI into our next-gen contact center technology to create an intelligent conversation experience between customer and agent. This integration effort can dramatically reshape the typical customer experience and have significant business implications for the future of customer engagement.

Eight years after Elop’s memo, his views on the importance of ecosystems are true now more than ever. In order for companies to succeed and compete, they must build strong ecosystems. Avaya continues to do this better than anyone in our industry.

Eric Rossman

Eric Rossman is the vice president of Strategic Alliances and Partnerships at Avaya. He has responsibility for the Avaya DevConnect Program, the DevConnect Marketplace and A.I.Connect. In addition, he is responsible for establishing and managing strategic alliances with companies such as Google, Salesforce, Microsoft and other key technology providers. Prior to joining Avaya, Mr. Rossman has held various sales, marketing, and technology-related positions at Kodak, Lucent Technologies and in the public sector. Mr. Rossman is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania's Penn Engineering and Wharton School with a Master's Degree in Technology Management.

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