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Avaya Expands Its A.I.Connect Ecosystem
Following on a strong 2018 that saw Avaya rejoin the ranks of publicly traded companies, launch new cloud services and a marketplace, and hire some big-name people, Avaya today announced two new partners to its A.I.Connect program, bringing the total to 10 and reinforcing its messaging about the importance of artificial intelligence (AI) for unified communications and in the contact center.
- Knowmail uses AI to personalize and prioritize email, determining what is and what isn’t important to a worker based on usage. An obvious question is what the heck does email have to do with Avaya? After Knowmail does its AI magic, it can push urgent emails, meetings, and tasks to a desktop phone, computer, or messaging app. This is an ideal use case for Avaya’s Vantage phone, letting users triage their incoming mail and meeting schedules without having to ever go into their Inboxes. Alternatively, Knowmail can read the urgent emails to the user via a digital assistant, such as Avaya’s Ava.
- over.ai is an AI-enabled voice solution aimed at enabling businesses to get more value from their customer interactions. The product suite includes a personal digital assistant that can attend calls and then be initiated to take action with a keyword if needed, an AI voice response system that uses advanced natural language processing to allow the seamless transfer of customer interactions from human to machine, and a voice agent for conference calls. Avaya will use over.ai to streamline communications tasks on its platforms through listening, understanding, and learning from its own environment.
AI will undoubtedly determine the long-term winners in UC and the contact center, and that requires two things -- differentiated features and data for AI use. This is where Avaya’s massive customer base stands out; Avaya arguably has more data available to it than any other vendor. A.I.Connect gives it access to a large ecosystem of potential partners that can bring it practical solutions it can sell today, allowing it to get a jump on the competition.
Looking ahead, Avaya said it will focus on AI partners that can enable the following:
- Effortless Prioritization -- allowing workers to deal with massive amounts of content such as email, IM, messages, and calls by intelligently prioritizing and responding to the most pressing items first
- Smart Communications -- leveraging presence to prioritize choices and optimize channels for communicating with peers and among workgroups
- Streamlined Interactions -- offering timely suggestions and voice activation of communication services, significantly simplifying workflows compared to the manual or point-and-click interfaces required by various communications channel choices today
- Optimized decision making -- providing personalized visibility to complete, relevant datasets that are all too often lost from view or difficult to find
In other A.I.Connect news, Avaya has expanded the resale agreement with Verint, an existing A.I.Connect partner, to bolster its AI and cloud positioning in the contact center. Through the partnership, customers can procure AI-enabled solutions directly through Avaya or its authorized channel partners. Capabilities include finding actionable insights across text and speech channels as well as in online communities. Verint makes for an excellent partner as it is one of the pioneers in using AI to improve customer engagement and has more than 10,000 customers across the globe, including 80 of the Fortune 100.
A.I.Connect is run by Eric Rossman, who built out the DevConnect program. I’ve long felt that DevConnect provided significant differentiation for Avaya but was under-marketed. With Avaya’s brand relaunch in November 2018, the DevConnect and A.I.Connect have a prominent place on Avaya’s website and in its strategy. Given the role AI will play in the future of communications, it’s good to see the company being aggressive with A.I.Connect. The key is to find the right partners from a sea of thousands of possibilities and this is where Rossman’s experience with DevConnect will be critical.
In 2018 Avaya seemed to have regained its mojo as one of the major communication providers, and with this news it appears the momentum is continuing in 2019.