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Avaya and Its Users

I recently sat down with Victor Bohnert, executive director of the International Avaya Users Group (IAUG) at the conclusion of its Converge2015 event, the annual international gathering of the world's largest independent customer advocacy organization. IAUG has its roots in 35 years of history, with 5,200 members and nearly 50 chapters worldwide. The exclusive mission of IAUG is to act as the voice for the Avaya customer.

"The energy of this year's event is palpable," Bohnert told me. "You can really feel the difference even over last year, which we felt had set a new bar. We are really looking to move our members into more competitive advantage." To achieve this mission requires not just painting a picture of the future but laying out the roadmap.

Success of the user group requires alignment with Avaya, partners, consultants and others in what Bohnert referred to as the "Avaya ecosystem." The end result is that people can really get a lot out of the experience, he said.

There are many pieces that must come together to assemble the agenda for the conference, Bohnert said. The process includes solicitation of educational session proposals from IAUG members, Avaya associates, and potential sponsors of the event. With the participation of Avaya associates, committees made up of IAUG members review the submissions based on an overall agenda structure. Final selection takes into account any feedback collected during surveys from previous events. This helps to ensure that the educational tracks are aligned with organizational goals and member needs.

Bohnert talked about how the independence of IAUG constitutes a major strength. Echoing his general session opening remarks, he said that there are two key things that have sustained the organization's strength over the last 35 years. "Number one is that we are customer led. That means that the board is led by Avaya customers. Our exclusive mission is to act as the voice for the Avaya customer. "

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Second, he said, "is that we stay aligned with Avaya ... We stay engrained in the Avaya culture. We understand and we support where Avaya's going as a company." Staying aligned with Avaya corporate strategies results not only in a successful organization, but enables IAUG to become a competitive differentiator for Avaya and its customers, he said.

The international reach of IAUG was extended recently in the largest chapter launch ever that took place in Dubai. The event established a strong foothold for IAUG in a region that is growing very quickly. The Dubai opening also allowed the chance for Avaya to highlight some of its leading-edge solutions, Bohnert added.

Communications solutions are becoming critical to business success, and as a result IAUG membership is changing, Bohnert said. "We will be attracting more line-of-business attendees at subsequent events to come and talk about the actual business drivers they can expect for deploying the Avaya solutions," he continued. Telling the stories about the tangible, measurable impacts on the business are the compelling stories of the future, he concluded.

In between yearly IAUG events, the ongoing interactions between IAUG members, Avaya and the partner community continues in the form of online forums, member advocacy, council meetings and regional chapter events. You can learn more about IAUG's mission, heritage and future on the group's website, and be sure catch the full interview with Bohnert.

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