Avaya Users: From Contingencies to Strategic Planning

As covered on No Jitter and elsewhere recently, since mid-December 2017, Avaya has installed new corporate leadership, exited bankruptcy, reduced its debt and interest expenses, gone public, and is busy planning a number of major product announcements for next week at Avaya Engage, the annual user and partner conference it co-hosts with the International Avaya Users Group. This is all positive news, but still we're left asking, "What's next for the Avaya customer base, and what does the company offer new prospects?"

A Great Moment in Time...

From my vantage point, this is an excellent moment in time, now that Avaya has exited from Chapter 11, to look at your current UC and contact center environments with an eye on where you might be able to take advantage of Avaya's new lease on life. If you're nearing end of support for an Avaya or competitive UC product from vendors such as Cisco, Genesys, Microsoft, Mitel, NEC, Unify -- or even have legacy Centrex at end of support -- now is time to take advantage. There are several reasons for this:

  1. Avaya is planning on making major announcements at Avaya Engage, introducing new technologies. Post show will be a good time to evaluate how these offerings can benefit your organization.
  2. I believe Avaya will offer strong incentives to stay with the company and upgrade within the product family, so checking into what it might be offering would be worth your while.
  3. You can anticipate that competitors will offer similar programs, as they have for the last 12 months; expect this to continue for the foreseeable future.
  4. Expect Avaya to be aggressive in trying to win new enterprise business from its competitors now that it's out from the shadow of its bankruptcy.

Availability of Newer Applications

As UC continues to evolve, newer technologies have extended its reach in the commercial and consumer markets. Some of these technologies include:

  • Communications platform as a service -- CPaaS enables integration of real-time applications into UC and contact center platforms, creating a powerful set of tools for delivering enhanced customer experience
  • Artificial intelligence -- AI use will increase exponentially with integration to UC and contact center applications for enhancing the customer experience; among these applications are self-service/chat bots, smart routing, contact center agent augmentation, enhanced workforce optimization, and tracking of contextual customer data
  • Internet of Things -- IoT data can be integrated with UC and contact center applications for real-time trouble reporting and device awareness; expect IoT integrations to proliferate
  • Workstream communications -- Workstream communications, or team collaboration, has entered the fold with offerings from Unify (Circuit), Cisco (Spark), Microsoft (Teams), and Slack among others, facilitating an integrated approach to collaboration
  • Biometrics -- Real-time facial recognition sensors can add to concierge services, enhanced security access, and integration to UC applications for chat, video, and more
  • Software-defined WAN -- SD-WAN delivers a next-gen level of WAN for any enterprise, at 20 to 50% cost less than a traditional WAN. Using both private and public access, security, and load balancing between circuits, SD-WAN promises more bandwidth and real-time access across multiple sites at nominal cost
  • Big data -- Big data will add a new dimension to customer engagement through advanced analytics and visualizations that help deliver actionable customer insight in real time

Together these areas will add up to in excess of $296 billion between 2020 to 2025 (depending on the category) without IoT, and another $6.2 trillion for IoT by 2025, according to multiple sources.

Technologies Now Mainstream

  • Unified communications -- Many enterprises have begun to embrace the full UC suite, starting with easy areas such as LDAP directories and unified messaging, then expanding to audioconferencing, collaboration, presence, ad-hoc videoconferencing, IM/chat, and integration with third-party APIs.
  • Multichannel contact centers -- We're now in the "Age of Customer Experience," as shown in a recent Gartner survey in which 89% of those surveyed said their organizations are focused on customer experience. This new era is driving the need for better contact center SLAs and better multichannel tools, including Web chat, email, video, collaboration appointment reminders, social media, chat bots, and CPaaS integration, among others.
  • Videoconferencing going mainstream -- Video is going viral, with the market expected to reach $7.8 billion by 2023, according to Transparency Market Research. This includes videoconferencing rooms, cloud-based videoconferencing, video streaming, video training and recording, and multichannel video in the contact center. New legislation specific to health care is helping facilitate the use of videoconferencing, for example. Health care kiosks at drugstores and entries to hospitals are now going mainstream, and video telemedicine appointments are now available, reimbursable to physicians and health care providers by insurance companies and Medicare/Medicaid.
  • The UC cloud -- Some enterprises simply don't want to manage complex UC and contact center infrastructure any longer, and are beginning to accept UC and contact center cloud services as real alternatives to premises deployments. In my experience, cloud costs are anywhere from 40% to 100% more than an equivalent premises solution, and security and privacy are concerns, too, especially in health care and financials service sectors.
  • Mobility -- Mobile devices have been around forever, but the acceptance of twinning to the desktop and full UC suite on a smart device have now gone mainstream. Specific to health care, mobile device applications now include the full UC suite with extensions for real-time prescriptions, access to patient monitoring, scoring the patient experience, and IM/presence chat functions connecting physicians.

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