At the end of 2018, Avaya announced changes to innovate, transform, and enable channel partners to grow in value and relevance in 2019.
The changes came as part of an effort to shift channel partners away from operating a traditional reseller model to providing full unified communications (UC) and contact communications (CC) solutions.
Then, International President of Avaya, Nidal Abou-Ltaif, said Avaya’s range of cloud-based UCaaS and CCaaS services would continue to expand in the year ahead, becoming available to any Avaya partner throughout the globe. This meant that the focus for 2019 was around giving channel partners of all sizes the freedom and flexibility to deliver cloud-based products to customers.
Avaya’s channel partner ecosystem on the cloud has grown at a rate of 50% year-over-year.
Aiming to build further on this, in January the company launched introduced Avaya OneCloud ReadyNow private cloud, a new private cloud delivery model of its Avaya OneCloud solutions for Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) and Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS).
This solution was to provide enterprise organizations with a fast, convenient and automated path to the benefits of cloud communications.
One key trend Avaya is well poised to take advantage of in 2019 is that of Contact Center environments becoming platforms for technological innovation as people realize that artificial intelligence relies completely on data sources and nowhere provides better sources of data that contact centers, especially those based in the cloud.
Traditionally these data hubs might have been concealed internally but now they can be leveraged in the cloud their data mines can open doors to previously unconsidered potential.
And Nidal added, the introduction of Cloud, changes the way businesses deal with customers. But there has been a progression in customer adoption from Public Clouds to Private to Hybrid Clouds and new solutions like machine learning (ML) and automation are changing the way businesses are dealing with technology.
Savio Tovar Dias, Senior Director - Sales Engineering at Avaya International said it was important to work with the right partner when moving into the Cloud or looking to undertake any form of digital transformation.
Digital transformation is an overused term,” Dias said, “It can mean many different things to different people. Those who look at it as a single, one-off project will fail when compared to those who view if as a journey. But ultimately it is about driving innovation.”
And innovation Dias said, was what would enable businesses to remain relevant.
On the CC side, Dias said he wasn’t aware of any product that’s remotely capable of providing the features needed to serve even 100 customers through a contact center – let alone thousands. Any customer looking to deploy a Contact Center would need to employ the services of a company that can build the solution out for you.
And with Avaya OneCloud, UC and CC solutions are provided through a network of data centers in the United States, Germany and Singapore for availability in 34 countries. The company will also be expanding its network of global data centers in the coming months to meet the growing needs of customers worldwide.
In a recent article, Irwin Lazar, an analyst at Nemertes Research said, "[Avaya's] plan is to do what everybody else is doing and harmonize on-premise and cloud, so you create an easy migration opportunity for on-premise customers to be able to take advantage of cloud features.”
Saying Thanks to Partners
At the Avaya Partner Summit 2019, held in Bangkok, Avaya recognized their 10 leading channel partners from Australia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Hong Kong and China at a star-studded gala dinner.
These partners were recognized for creating new ideas to inspire in their quests to revolutionize the way that businesses build customer and employee experiences.
“In an increasingly digitized business environment, it is more important than ever for technology companies to collaborate in designing holistic solutions for their customers’ business needs. Today we recognize organizations that share this vision and which are using Avaya’s open communications platforms to innovate, to grow and to deliver additional value to the market,” said Fadi Moubarak, Vice President – Channels, Avaya International.
Australia-based Telstra was honored for its continued ability to develop the latest, customer-centric innovations on the Avaya Oceana and Equinox platforms. Marubeni Information Systems Co., based in Japan, was awarded for developing its own artificial intelligence (AI) solution enabling voice-based recognition, frequently asked questions and interactive voice response (IVR). Meanwhile, the Korea-based TAK Information Systems Inc. was named Innovation Partner of the Year after deploying an advanced omni-channel call center – the first of its kind in the country.
Challenging the ‘free-to air’ market
While paid solutions offer customers ease of mind with support and capacity growth options, free UC solutions do offer an alternative. But Avaya isn’t too concerned with these competitors as Dias explained.
“The first observation to be made on the free products available on the market is that, for the vast majority of organizations, they aren’t really free. Generally, these products come with an extremely limited set of features, and a similarly limited number of free licenses,” Dias said, “You may get basic calling or video chat for free for up to, say, 10 users. But if your business is any bigger than that, and if you have any additional requirements – like the ability to present over video-conferencing, for example – nine times out of ten you’ll be asked to upgrade to a ‘Pro’ version of whatever ‘Free’ product you’re using.”
The second thing to note is that, he added was because of the limited features that these products offer, they aren’t really ‘solutions’, either – not in the sense that we understand the word. “They’ll generally provide one facet of the functionalities that our solution sets offer, but they can’t be integrated into an over-arching technology strategy that helps the company to drive value,” he said.
So while these free products are generally more attractive to start-ups and small businesses Dias said that once an organization gets to a certain size, it would need something more fully formed and integrated into a company’s existing workflows to enhance productivity.
To get ahead, and deliver the experiences that their customers demand, organizations need a seamless transition of communications between customer-facing employees and internal teams. According to Avaya, the idea is to enable every employee to impact the customer experience.
“Employees require powerful tools that enable them to collaborate seamlessly, irrespective of their location, device, and communication channels,” Dias said, “And so far, organizations are missing this opportunity – according to our research, 94% of Singaporean workers claim that communication and collaboration could be improved in their workplaces.”
According to Dias Avaya is one of the few communications vendors fully committed to open ecosystems and the API economy. “We’ve opened up our core UC and CC platforms so that customers, channel partners, and other vendors, can integrate with them and innovate on top of them. This is helping to create incredible, vertical-specific solutions that are tailor-made for the businesses that employ them, and it’s driving real ROI,” he added.
For example, in Taiwan, O-Bank used Avaya solutions to become the country’s first all-digital, online-only bank, realizing huge savings. And in Australia, the Department of Defense is using Avaya contact center solutions to enable operators to resolve issues at first point of contact.
Dealing with the last C in UC&C
But, after so long, is the Collaboration portion of UC&C still relevant for enterprises these days?
Dias said that despite the shake-ups happening in the UC world, large organizations have, for many years, been aware of the benefits of collaboration – and have been willing to invest in those benefits.
“What’s interesting to us is that, actually, a lot of smaller organizations – say, with 1,000 employees or fewer – are also finding they need high-quality collaboration services. Their requirements might be slightly different to those of large enterprises, and their ability to pay enterprise prices is certainly different, but the need to collaborate with colleagues from any location, using any device, is certainly there,” Dias said, “That’s especially true of organizations with a lot of customer-facing employees trying to deliver an amazing customer experience. This is a competitive segment of the market, and so these companies live and die on their reputations for customer service. As a result, agents need fast access to back-office employees. They need to be able pull up relevant information for customers at a moment’s notice. And they need to be able to escalate enquiries so that more advanced support can be provided if needed. None of that is possible without the kinds of collaboration tools that we’re talking about.”
Looking to the arrival of 5G
Dias said that he genuinely believed that the widespread adoption of 5G would change everything, but Avaya would have time to adapt as it would take well into the 2020s before 5G becomes the new standard.
He acknowledged that numerous sectors would be affected by 5G and we will begin to see applications built on AR, VR, telepresence and AI, which will benefit from the massive data pipes and ultra-low latency. HD video will be the standard mode of communication, streaming will become commonplace – and it’ll all be available on the go he said.