In late 2021, Avaya launched its Experience Builders community, which brings together partners, customers, developers, and any other constituent that leverages its platform to create unique experiences. In the past, Avaya's DevConnect developer program would handle creating these experiences, but now, it has solutions beyond just APIs. For example, end users can leverage Avaya’s low-code/no-code interface to create an experience that’s unique to their needs instead of having to modify their workflows around a stock interface.
As the world shifts to hybrid work and we learn, work, and entertain ourselves through digital tools, the ability to build unique experiences becomes increasingly important. At the recent Avaya Engage event, the company hosted a panel moderated by Laura Faughtenberry, senior solutions marketing manager for CPaaS at Avaya. Panelists also included:
- Simon Harrison, chief marketing officer, Avaya
- David James Clarke, chief product officer, Toolwire
- Dr. Alex Feltus, professor at Clemson University
- Brett Shockley, CEO and co-founder, Journey.ai
- David Lover, VP of strategy and technology, ConvergeOne
- Tim Gogal, senior director, US Experience Builders, Avaya
During his introduction, Harrison did a nice job of setting the stage, explaining that “composing” experiences today requires a different approach than just focusing on developers. Experience building isn’t about the traditional, canned app, consultancy, project management, implementation process. Instead, the goal is to create a fusion of teams across channels, technology partners, customers, Avaya employees, and others to create combinatorial innovations.
Toolwire and Clemson University provided a good example of this with their joint work on building a digital learning platform. For those not familiar with Toolwire, the company built an asynchronous learning product where educators could post pre-recorded sessions and other content. Toolwire then integrated its platform with Avaya Spaces to add synchronous learning for real-time collaboration. The AI engine shows the product's value; it curates and finds interesting content, learns what content is effective, increases content engagement through micro-rewards, scales digital assessments, automates the instructor experience, and more. Hammering home the point that AI doesn’t replace people, Clarke said, “AI is there to serve the student and the teacher and not take the place of them.”
Prior to the pandemic, Feltus was exploring ways to create more experiential learning through digital tools. For the past 12 years, he taught a genetics course at Clemson University, and he wanted to expand how he taught it with the use of hands-on digital labs. He worked with Toolwire to create a customized experience that enabled him to, as he described, “No longer be a boring teacher in front of the classroom and make learning more exciting through the digital labs.”
By working together, Clemson University and Toolwire created that combinatorial effect that Harrison previously mentioned. Clarke added how the coming together of the virtual platform with the classroom experience created a “1+1 = 5” effect. “It’s (digital learning) not trying to re-create the classroom but rather make it better through things like gamification, dashboards and insights to change the way students learn,” Harrison said. Feltus echoed this and said that the students love the platform and have been getting great jobs, and he has been getting the best evaluations he has ever received.
Lover moved the discussion to the importance from re-inventing education to other industries, as contact centers and customer experience teams are going through tremendous churn because of the current Great Resignation that is underway. “Companies have to hire contact center agents quickly, and they don’t have six months to train them. Businesses need to move fast and get them ready as quickly as possible, so this concept of online learning actually impacts everyone,” he explained.
Shockley described how the Experience Builder program helped Journey.ai collaborate with Toolwire. He first met Clarke at the electronic tradeshow GITEX in Dubai, where he was in the Avaya booth demonstrating identity, which he admitted isn’t the most exciting topic — although trusted identity underpins almost everything we do. “Simplifying trusted identity is a key to delivering amazing customer experiences. Managing security while getting rid of the fraud and protecting data can transform the customer’s experience,” he noted.
He gave the example of a person showing their driver’s license at a bar to prove they can legally drink. In addition to getting information on when the patron was born, the bartender now has access to information that they don’t need like the person’s name or address. Similarly, in a contact center, the agent will see information that they don’t need when all they might be required to know is if the customer made a payment. Journey.ai provides only the required amount of trusted identity for that session.
After meeting Toolwire, Shockley recognized the obvious synergies between the two companies and set out to collaborate. For instance, contact centers need to know who is getting trained, if the person logging on virtually was the individual the company hired, are they engaged in the content or are they clicking to the next step too quickly, etc. Also, how does the data get handled and protected, so it doesn’t wind up in the wrong hands. “The composable experiences enables us to glue things together almost overnight,” he added, highlighting the speeds at which businesses need to move today. Before GITEX, one of Toolwire’s customers was having a challenge in validating employees and their authenticity, Clarke explained. Adding Journey.ai allowed Toolwire to solve that specific trust issue without being intrusive.
Gogal, who runs Experience Builders, discussed the importance of stitching together components of customer experience that will make the interaction memorable. “Every member of Experience Builders has the opportunity to re-invent their experience by layering on the various components to create a differentiated experience,” Gogal said.
This concept of composability and rapid experience building is the future of communications. Several years ago, Jeff Lawson, CEO of Twilio, wrote a book called “As Your Developer,” which was appropriate at the time, as developers were integral in creating differentiated experiences. Today, I look at that as old-school thinking, as businesses no longer have the time to sit around and wait for developers to build apps. Instead, the future is the phrase, “ask your composer,” or more accurately composers (plural), as it’s the best way to leverage the power of an entire community to build custom experiences that matter to everyone.