Avaya: The Future of Work is All About AI, Mobility and other Emerging Tech
With all the disruptive technologies the communications space is seeing, it’s no surprise that there is an unprecedented number of startup companies leveraging new technologies to innovate. And while that’s creating many opportunities for new companies, those disruptive technologies are also allowing major vendors to also innovate and bring new capabilities to their customers as they move into a new world of business engagement – The Future of Work. Jon Alperin, Director of A.I.Connect, DevConnect, & DevConnect Marketplace for Avaya, will be speaking at The Future of Work Expo in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and was kind enough to share some of his thoughts on what the Future of Work looks like and, more importantly, what it means for businesses who are embracing modern, innovative technologies.
Please tell us a bit about the latest news at your company
This year, Avaya was named a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications, Worldwide and as an MQ Leader in Contact Center Infrastructure. We are one of only two companies named Leaders in both UC and CC.
A benefit of our iconic brand is that we have the largest install base of customers across the globe in unified communications and in the contact center. We are putting significant investment in our core UC and CC business, but even more in the cloud. We have experienced remarkable growth in cloud across all segments this past year, and growing our public cloud at rates that far exceed the industry. It is a clear indicator that our install base looks to us as their preferred choice when moving to cloud.
Secondly, we are investing in emerging technologies, like AI and Mobility. We’re leveraging AI in unique ways to improve customer experience for increased revenue and customer satisfaction, and workforce efficiency. On Mobility, over 70 percent of calls coming into contact centers are mobile, routed through fixed networks, subject to high toll fees and degraded quality. Avaya’s disruptive approach keeps calls in the mobile network and delivers them directly to the contact center without going through the fixed network, and adding caller context to improve customer experience and saving cost.
What pains are you taking away for customers?
Digital transformation isn’t optional; it’s the disruptive new normal, and it starts with transforming business communications. Avaya is addressing the pains organizations are feeling as they struggle with digital transformation. We do this by providing organizations with the latest communications technology that can change the way they interact with customers—and change their businesses. Our solutions get employees to embrace the right communication tools, and then connect customer touchpoints for a seamless journey that enhances customer experience. We make automation work by creating the right human connections needed for truly personalized customer service. We create a seamless experience with embedded communications in all processes and apps, to connect the back office with the front office to eliminate silos.
How is cloud acceptance changing how your customers or you company operates?
Nearly 80 percent of businesses are using public loud, making the cloud as ubiquitous as email. In 15 months, 80 percent of IT budgets will be committed to cloud solutions. Customers need a cloud solution that delivers flexible features, functions, and value—without any compromise. Whether you’re a smaller business, need enterprise scale, or you’re somewhere in the middle, with Avaya, you can seamlessly scale your operations and get to market faster with always-on resources available to meet your needs. And with cloud technology, you’ll never have to deal with technology obsolescence. You can focus on providing great customer experiences, improving productivity, and growing your business. Avaya is the leader in Unified Communications and Contact Center Solutions and we are refocused on providing these solutions to customers of all sizes, on premise or private, public or hybrid cloud.
What are the most important recent communications technology innovations in your industry?
Mobility and AI. We are a pioneer in leveraging new capabilities in these two areas for unified communications and contact center solutions.
How is mobile changing your business strategy?
In the U.S., more than 70 percent of calls coming to a contact centers are mobile. However, these calls are currently routed through the fixed telephone network and subject to high toll free (a.k.a. 800) numbers fees. Just in the U.S., the spend on 800 numbers is in the vicinity of $2B per year, and some large customers pay in excess of $50M per year to their 800 providers. Additionally, since there is a transition between the mobile and fixed networks, mobile information is lost, and quality degraded resulting in frustrated customers and less efficient businesses. With the world continuously becoming more mobile every day, vendors and service providers need technology that can help resolve these pain points while still providing a great experience for the caller.
Customers need a disruptive approach that will keep the call in the mobile network as well as deliver them directly to the contact center without going through the fixed network, adding caller context, and embracing mobile messaging, the mobile web and mobile applications to make the customer experience better. What if vendors and service providers could become a mobile network operator with the power to route and terminate mobile calls?
Avaya is doing this with its new Avaya Mobile Experience solution. This allows customers to reduce the cost of the 800 number and provide additional capabilities such as immediate deflection to text messaging or web become available, digitally transforming the customer experience. This disruptive approach allows for a new, relevant, profitable experience while opening the door to integrate additional technology innovations.
How can blockchain transform your industry?
One example is a blockchain implementation we demonstrated called the Avaya Happiness Index on Blockchain, which highlights how disruptive technologies, including blockchain, artificial intelligence and advanced data analytics, can be harnessed to transform customer experience. Happiness Index on Blockchain enables organizations to dynamically manage the customer journey to achieve greater satisfaction. Marrying enormous volumes of historical and real-time data to understand customer satisfaction is a huge challenge for our customers.
By applying blockchain, data analytics and artificial intelligence on different data profiles and sources, we have built a globally unique solution that allows large organizations to measure and manage sentiment for every single one of their customers, as it happens. The Avaya solution shows how companies and government organizations can leverage blockchain to securely collect and integrate data from multiple sources, such as different contact centers, emails, social media, web and chat platforms. By selectively filtering offline data and monitoring real-time data sources, organizations can dynamically measure customer satisfaction levels and transform experiences to meet their satisfaction level objectives.
What implications does AI have for your business and your customers?
It’s no secret that for businesses to succeed in the future, they must embrace digital transformation today to enhance customer experiences. Artificial intelligence, integrated with behavioral analytics and Robotic Process Automation (RPA), is a powerful technology for advancing transformation initiatives, but it’s not magic. Harnessing that power requires a deep understanding of what a great customer experience should feel like, applied against each stage of customer engagement and then use these technologies to layer on an even more enhanced experience. In addition, companies need to know how to understand the perception and tone of the experiences they create.
Teradata reported in the “State of Artificial Intelligence for the Enterprise,” that 62 percent of organizations are investing in AI to improve customer experience and engagement, with 46 percent already seeing an increase in revenue when AI is applied to customer service. The need for digitally transforming the contact center is pertinent in the integration of software systems—including CRM databases—with digital channels: email, SMS, text, social, messaging apps, plus Voice, as well as the integration of cloud (private, public, hybrid) for greater flexibility, scalability and improved speed to do business. With this enterprise wide integration completed, the conversation center can provide the real time context needed for an AI-backed chatbot to front end all customer engagements with an intelligent conversation. Once the digital transformation of business communications is complete those enterprises have the opportunity to have a digital conversation.
What is your perception of the The Future of Work and how new tech is changing the face of communications?
The workforce is constantly being challenged to be more productive and agile, disrupting the way we collaborate. It will be that workforce, as it responds to those challenges and drives change on its own, not necessarily under the direction of management, that achieves increased productivity by leveraging new collaboration, mobility and communication technologies, as well as determining what dies in the process.
The potential for unified communications, contacts centers and collaboration tools to come together to transform how we work and how we deliver better experiences for customers is massive for individuals and teams everywhere. Convergence is inevitable, with advancements in video conferencing, mobile workforce, messaging platforms and related disruptive technologies increasing. Progress in this space is bringing more intelligent collaboration and connectivity capabilities to the forefront of how companies operate. But all of the information we are sharing and creating is potentially overwhelming and will need a framework that is sustainable to intelligently connect and collaborate for meaningful outcomes. Tech companies that are focused on meaningful outcomes, and not just optimizing technology, will drive convergence that wins in the marketplace.
What is the greatest opportunity facing your industry?
2019 will be the year of Convergence. Organizations are constantly being challenged to be more productive and agile, disrupting the way we collaborate. And it will be the workforce, as it responds to those challenges, that achieves increased productivity by leveraging new collaboration, mobility and communication technologies, as well as determining what dies in the process.
The potential for disparate communication tools to converge and transform how we work and how we deliver better experiences for customers is massive. Convergence is inevitable, with advancements in video conferencing, mobile workforce, messaging platforms and related disruptive technologies increasing. We’re bringing more intelligent collaboration and connectivity to how companies operate. But all of the information we are sharing and creating is potentially overwhelming and will need a framework that is sustainable to intelligently connect and collaborate for meaningful outcomes. Partners that focus on meaningful outcomes, and not just optimizing technology, will drive convergence that wins in the marketplace.
What is the greatest challenge?
The market is evolving at an incredible pace leading to the need to become consultative experts to achieve the digital transformation strategies customers are looking for in their specific industries. Customers want to engage with experts that have a deep understanding of their industry and can provide a full technology solution addressing key business priorities.
Please make an interesting prediction about tech in 2019?
Front office and back office will dissolve, and instead you will see truly unified communications that enable organizations to embed communications into all processes and apps to connect and eliminate silos. This will improve their customer experience through an engaged and efficient workforce that has access to the right information at the right time from anywhere and can harness that to delight customers and improve business performance.Jon will be participating in a panel discussion on how AI is taking voice communication to a new level. The session, From VoIP to the New Voice, will be taking place at 3:00pm on Thursday, January 31, 2019. If you haven’t booked your ticket, take a moment today to register and join us in Florida to understand how to transition your business to the Future of Work.
Edited by Erik Linask