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Avaya Adds Huddle Rooms to As-a-Service Packaging

Huddle rooms are a popular concept in business collaboration today, as we’ll surely be reminded of later this month at Enterprise Connect 2019, where industry experts will be addressing the topic as part of our conference program and vendors will be showcasing their solutions on the Expo floor. But are employees getting the most out of these spaces?


One longtime video conferencing system provider, Avaya, thinks not. Its customer research shows that many huddle room users default to audio calls in huddle spaces -- and larger conference rooms -- even when they have the option of video. For the uninitiated who are exposed to traditional video conferencing systems, video can be daunting. With audio, on the other hand, “they know it works every time, they know whoever they’re engaged with can also use it, and they don’t have to be afraid it’s not going to work,” as Steve Brock, director of Avaya IX devices marketing, shared in a No Jitter briefing earlier this week.


Avaya intends to remove the challenges and increase the use of video collaboration for larger numbers of employees with a handful of huddle room solutions announced earlier this week. These new solutions sit in the middle of Avaya’s video portfolio, which covers the gamut from desktop clients to telepresence room systems.


As it has across its video product range, Avaya is positioning its huddle room offerings as “just another component of the overall UC system,” Brock said. After all, he added, “video collaboration ought to be about moving ideas, not people.”


The new huddle room line comprises IX Huddle Cameras, for use with IX Room Systems or connected to a laptop for high-def video within smaller rooms; IX Workplace, a desktop app that supports calling, messaging, meetings, and team collaboration; and IX Collaboration Unit, an all-in-one, purpose-built system that sits on top of a video screen, allows wireless content sharing from mobile smart devices, provides seamless UC platform integration, and interoperates with existing video infrastructure.


Additionally, because simplicity is key in getting users over their fear of engaging via video, huddle room systems need to play to what employees are comfortable with, Brock said. Toward that end, users can access, run, use, and share their Android apps from the IX Collaboration Unit, since it’s an Android system, Brock said.


“This isn’t just a siloed system that’s separate from your UC platform. This isn’t a siloed system that’s separate from your existing video infrastructure, or that connects to the cloud just for call control,” Brock reiterated. “This brings all your apps into the huddle space. … You want to share your favorite music [or launch a UCaaS app]? You can. This unleashes the power of the ‘clouds,’ not just cloud.”


Beyond huddle room-oriented products, Avaya aims to entice companies to promote the use of video collaboration via a monthly subscription pricing model, Brock said. With a new “Huddle as a Service” package, businesses can buy the components they need to outfit huddle spaces on a monthly basis. They can pay a monthly subscription fee for the IX Collaboration Unit, and partners can offer combos of the IX Workplace software, delivered on prem or in the cloud, plus the room devices, for a monthly fee.


Huddle as a Service fees will range from $18 to $24 per month, depending on the terms of subscription plan. An enterprise that is looking to test out the feasibility of huddle spaces might sign on for a one-year subscription, for example. And if employees aren’t using the rooms to their fullest, it could then ship the devices back and end the service… or, conversely, up the terms of the subscription and bring in more devices.


“Our goal isn't just to introduce technology but true solutions that address the business economics,” Brock said. It’s all about engaging companies and helping them understand the value of video collaboration, he added. “Sometimes, we as an industry forget that we still need to remind businesses about the benefits of video collaboration and how much productivity it can increase.”