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Avaya/Nortel Contact Center Integration Evolution

Just as there have been a series of significant changes in Avaya corporate leadership of late, so too have there been shifts in the company's contact center business. Let's start by reviewing the roadmap presented in January 2010, which I wrote about here on No Jitter at the time. (The text in the yellow boxes is my addition to the original Avaya slide.)

The interpretation of the slide by many was that the only surviving contact center platform would be the next iteration of Nortel Contact Center, shown here as NGCC and later branded Avaya Aura Contact Center (AACC). It didn't take competitors (one in particular) long to jump on a bandwagon of "Avaya is killing Elite." Their message was that instead of choosing a forklift upgrade, Elite customers should explore their options.

Avaya was quick to insist that there was never a plan to kill Elite; in fact, looking at the chart, it clearly says there will be upgrades and extensions. But that NGCC box under 18-30 months was, in hindsight, not the right message to send. Avaya quickly messaged that there was no expiration date on Elite and in 2011 announced it could be integrated with AACC to provide multichannel capabilities.

At this week's International Avaya User Group meeting in Boston, SVP for Applications and Emerging Technologies Brett Shockley gave the first hint that Avaya Interaction Center too was now being treated as a thriving piece of the portfolio. From the keynote stage he talked about plans to increase the scalability of Avaya Interaction Center, a solution acquired from Quintus in 2001. There was a gasp from the audience. OK, the gasp was from me in the second row, but it was pretty audible.

Later in the day, at a session for industry analysts, Shockley's VP of Marketing Jorge Blanco presented the slide below. It articulates Avaya Interaction Center's current role in the portfolio--for customers with a requirement for a highly customizable, multi-channel queue capability. The implication is that these requirements go beyond the capabilities available today by adding AACC to Elite.

Note that the slide positions this portfolio "marketecture" as "Today." There were two more iterations discussed, for Next and Future, which I will leave to the Avaya account teams and channel partners to explain to customers where appropriate. Suffice it to say that Elite, AACC and Avaya Interaction Center survive in all three versions, and an enhancing element of intelligent, contextual routing is added that can deliver value across all three.

This new telling of the Avaya contact center portfolio story came full circle for me over dinner, when I had the opportunity to discuss it with VP of Contact Center Product Management Christine Viera. Viera spent four years in a similar role at Oracle, as VP for CRM Product Management from 2006-2010. You may recall that in those years Oracle had an array of CRM solutions--Oracle's own e-Business, Siebel and PeopleSoft to name a few.

Viera inferred that today's approach with Avaya contact center applications is similar to the approach taken at Oracle at the time: There is no reason to "kill" a viable solution with a sizable customer base. Instead the strategy at Oracle, and the one being adopted for Avaya contact center, is to build new features in modules that can be used by any of the existing solutions to add new functionality. Already several solutions fit that model--e.g., Avaya Aura Experience Portal (self-service) and Avaya Proactive Contact will work with any of the three routing solutions.

Taking a nap? Not at all.