Unified Communications Featured Article

Alperin Details Avaya's AI Strategy


November 09, 2018

The Future of Work Expo is less than three months away.

In an effort to tempt you to register for this event, TMC is running interviews with some of our dynamic speakers for The Future of Work Expo, a new event focused on how artificial intelligence and machine learning are challenging and improving what’s possible in business communications and collaboration, customer service, marketing automation and personalization, and sales acceleration.

Avaya’s Jon Alperin is our latest Q&A subject for The Future of Work Expo, which will run Jan. 30 through Feb. 1 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

He’s director of partnerships and alliances for DevConnect and A.I.Connect at Avaya. And he’ll be a panelist on the “From VoIP to the New Voice” panel.

This is Part 1 of our two-part conversation. Here's the link to Part 2.

What Avaya products today employ AI? What does that allow them to do?
Alperin: Avaya has actually had AI-powered solutions for many, many years. Our Avaya IVR, Voice Portal and Experience Portal products have all utilized speech recognition capabilities to provide natural language processing and natural language understanding features that our customers leverage in their contact center. NLP/NLU and speech recognition are certainly part of the broad industry definition of AI.

Along the way, we made several acquisitions for speech analytics and automated chat solutions, and we’ve integrated those capabilities within the framework of our Avaya Breeze platform, allowing customers to build complex workflows and applications that can further exploit these capabilities within the enterprise contact center.

What’s new on this front?
Alperin: Currently, we’re focused on introducing three new AI-enabled solutions from Avaya. The Avaya solutions focus on next-generation self-service with a cloud-based AI solution for engaging customers using social media, chat and messaging channels; Avaya Conversational Intelligence, which optimizes human agent interactions with real-time automated conversational transcription and next-action guidance; and a data-guided decisioning service based on Avaya Business Rules Engine which provides recommendations to agents based on caller identity and a large range of real-time enterprise, Avaya-generated, and external data sources.

Of course, we further augment these Avaya offers with a broader range of joint solutions through our A.I.Connect partner initiative.

What is A.I.Connect?
Alperin: A.I.Connect is an initiative to highlight high-value partnerships from within our overall DevConnect partner ecosystem.

We launched this in November of 2017, bringing together an initial set of AI-enabled solutions aligned to our five key areas of AI focus in the contact center.

In 2019, I expect that we will again expand this effort, with both new partners and an increased depth of relationships. More information regarding A.I.Connect can be found at www.avaya.com/aiconnect.

Who’s using Avaya AI-powered solutions today?
Alperin: We have a wide range of customers using AI-powered solutions from Avaya and our A.I.Connect partners, from major telecommunications and health care providers, to financial institutions and consumer electronics manufacturers. Many of these companies consider the use of AI as a competitive advantage, offering more personalized and tailored customer services or obtaining insights in customer satisfaction and trends that align directly to their business strategies.  

In fact, we introduced an AI-powered automated customer chat capability within our own Avaya Support Portal almost 4 years ago. We’ve had tremendous success towards increasing self-service customer interactions with measurable improvement in customer sat and expense decrease for many routine support requests.

To do what kinds of things?
Alperin: Well… pretty much anything in the contact center.

We’ve identified five key areas of focus in the contact center – from initial customer contact through voice or digital channels; to the core interactions with agents or more automated self-service options; to the back-end management, operations, and reporting capabilities that enterprises use to manage and improve their overall operations. And we have solutions or partnerships for solutions in all these areas.

How does it work?
Alperin: We start with Smart Routing, which builds prediction and intelligence in to how and what sort of channel the customer is going to be best served by. This can include redirecting callers to self-service options or even shifting them from a voice channel to a SMS/text/chat one. Or it can mean using behavioral cues and insights to match callers with the most appropriate human agent to attain the desired outcome.

For those that are leveraging self-service options, our Enhanced Self-Service approach is intended to provide the most natural and intuitive interaction model, whether through voice or text/chat.

Next, we want to offer Agent Assist capabilities, providing human agents with information ‘at their fingertips’ based on analytics and predictions, as well as coaching and feedback mechanisms that help drive the right engagement and emotional connection with the caller.

Of course, some agents are better at this than others, and our Agent Experience solutions help contact center managers understand why that is and provide training and insight back across all their agents. It also offers the enterprise a level of assurance that specific policies, which can include legal compliance requirements, are being met across the board.

Finally, we help the enterprise leverage the wealth of real-time data and outcomes from customer interactions, both individual and collectively, to understand and make connections between and across their business teams, industry, or even regional and global environment. These Intelligent Insight capabilities into Voice of the Customer can lead to insightful predictions for future success.

Customers are using one or several solutions to reinvent how the serve their customers.

What is Avaya doing with AI relative to unified communications?
Alperin: We’ve introduced AI-enabled capabilities in our Avaya Vantage device portfolio to offer virtual assistant capabilities similar to those found on consumer smartphones. We’re working with companies like Knowmail for value-added applications that help predict and prioritize critical email communications that are directly applicable to the typical employee. And we’ve delivered proof-of-concept integrations that bring Google’s AI-based speech analytics, transcription and translation capabilities to Avaya Vantage users, allowing conversations to span language differences in an intuitive and natural way.




Edited by Maurice Nagle




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