Avaya sees social, mobility transforming networks

A cross-platform, social media-driven revolution is taking place around the world, Avaya Canada Corp. executives told guests at a one-day conference in Toronto.

During Avaya Evolutions, the company’s Canadian president Ross Pellizzari spoke of some of the changes his company is making to adapt its traditional lines of business – networking and video conferencing – to a more mobile, collaborative workplace.

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“The modern office is virtualized,” Pellizzari said. “The days of the monolith office where everyone travels in, or relocates to, to communicate – that’s over.”

Jean Turgeon, Avaya’s vice-president of technical solutions marketing, said the company’s products are increasingly emphasizing collaboration between employees and will provide better “context” for customer service. For example, he said, Avaya Aura Contact Centre software brings customer activity (in the form of e-mails, blogs, or tweets) to the attention of client-facing personnel.

Traditionally, he added, these were treated as separate business processes. “You go and you do tweets, then you go and do blogs, then you go and do video, then you go to your contact centre. What we’re trying to do now is bring all of this stuff together.”

Pellizari said the success of his company’s strategy will depended heavily on its network of more than 10,000 partners, many of whom were in attendance. “We desperately need the support, the integration capabilities, the skills, the feet on the street, that our valued business partners bring to us,” he said.

Meanwhile, Amir Hameed, the company’s vice-president for technical sales in the Americas, talked about how collaborative technology is being shaped by mobility. Avaya is developing tools to allow voice, video and e-mail to be shared in a single, accessible place, he said.

Here again, context is important, he added: Within an organization, employees need to be aware of previous discussions relevant to any current conversation they’re having, regardless of the medium they use.

“Our aim is to get out applications out to the user, out to the individual themselves,” Hameed said, “irrespective of what device or where they may be working.”

Mobile technology will define the contact centre of the future, he added, citing the recent example of Hurricane Sandy, when employees fielding calls were able to work remotely during the disaster.

“We’re already seeing the shift – we’ve been seeing it for some time – away from the traditional bricks and mortar where agents go into the office environment, Now it doesn’t matter where you are, as long as you’re connected.”

Today, people are talking less about calling and more about collaborating, Hameed said. “And how are we going to collaborate? Well, it’s not going to be phone calls anymore. It’s going to be sessions.”

“Session-based communications” will constitute the core of communication networks in the future, he predicted.

Another speaker at the event, David Senf, program vice-president for IDC Canada’s infrastructure solutions group, outlined the top four trends the analyst firm sees the future of IT: big data, mobile, social and cloud, in that order.

Mobile traffic on networks is set to outpace “fixed traffic” by next year, Senf said. This is the product of the new era we’re living in, which IDC calls “the third platform” (preceded by the client-server era, and before that, the mainframe era). Our world is “much more decentralized,” now, he said.

Good cross-platform development will therefore be vital, he added. If the architecture on one platform can be transferred successfully onto other platforms, then by extension, a failure to do so will hurt companies across the board, Senf said.

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