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Avaya Collaboration Environment: Blurring the Lines between UC and Contact Center

While Avaya telephony, unified communications and contact center applications all use Avaya Aura as a core platform, it has not always been easy to for either Avaya or third parties to build applications that cut across the silos of individual solutions. Avaya Collaboration Environment, announced this week at the International Avaya User Group meeting, creates a new middleware platform that promises to do just that.

In an earlier No Jitter post, Zeus Kerravala discussed the attributes of the platform and what it does for developers. I will address another aspect of Avaya Collaboration Environment (CE)--its broader implications for Avaya's overall collaboration portfolio: allowing tighter integration of the unified communications and contact center applications.

In April 2013, Gary Barnett assumed the title of SVP and General Manager of Collaboration. This put telephony platforms, unified communications and contact center applications product strategy and delivery under one executive with broad expertise in each area.

As former CEO of Aspect Communications, Barnett was deeply involved in building the premier contact center solution of its time. At Aspect Software, Barnett worked to tightly integrate the company's contact center solution with Microsoft Lync, giving him invaluable insight into the possibilities and challenges of doing so.

When I spoke with Barnett here at IAUG, he outlined that from a contact center perspective, Collaboration Environment can be thought of as enabling the latest of three evolutionary phases:

1. 1990s: No unification of applications: ACD, IVR, dialer, etc. only loosely couple together.

2. 2000s: Unified Contact Center: ACD, IVR, dialer tightly integrated with common design tools and reporting.

3. Today: Unified Communications and Contact Center: all contact center applications as well as unified communications delivered on a common platform.

As seen in the graphic, not only UC and contact center applications share a platform that has access to the media and session management services of Avaya Aura. Third-party applications will be able to access and integrate real-time communications into a process flow as well.

User Events, Inc. has been working with Avaya Collaboration Environment as an early trial developer through the DevConnect program. The integration of their application, CxEngage, with Aura CE was demonstrated by Avaya at Enterprise Connect in the Avaya Innovations Lounge in March 2013, and this week at IAUG. They demonstrated an ability to correlate enterprise application events from web, mobile and with Aura CE events like SIP calls. Monitoring all of these feeds, CxEngage looks for a pattern of events of interest, i.e., a customer journey through possibly multiple touch points; it can then initiate an engagement strategy like intercepting a call, sending an email or SMS back through Aura.

Under NDA, Karen Hardy, Director of Product Management for Collaboration Platforms at Avaya, shared an impressive list of key customers and technology partners already working with Aura CE during the Developer Preview phase. Look for a fall launch for Aura CE, which both Barnett and Hardy promise will be "game changing."

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