Customer Contact Week (renamed from Call Center Week), one of the world’s biggest contact centre conferences and expos is a fantastic place to learn about the latest innovations in the customer contact and experience sector. This year, the event ran at the end of June, in the heart of Las Vegas, bringing together thousands of contact centre customers, experts, and vendors on the search for the best communications solution the evolving marketplace has to offer.
I was lucky enough to attend this year, and during my time there I met up with Karen Hardy, the VP of Product Marketing and Solutions for Avaya. Coincidentally, Karen was born in the very same hospital as me in West London, but she now lives in North America, after moving to pursue her career in the communications industry.
Tell Us About Yourself and Avaya
At this point, Avaya has evolved into a communications company that practically needs no introduction. A global leader in the digital communications software space, and an innovator in services and devices that allow businesses of all sizes to connect, Avaya is constantly breaking the mould with new call centre solutions, real-time communication applications, and customisable services for the UC environment.
Karen Hardy is the woman behind the senior product and solutions marketing team for Avaya. She’s responsible for the messaging, positioning and go-to-market strategy of the Avaya unified communication and collaboration products, as well as the contact centre portfolio – making her a fantastic person to speak with at CCW.
What’s Your Opinion of CCW This Year?
CCW or “Call Centre Week” has been running ever since 1999. It emerged as way to help around 80 or so call centre managers to discuss the latest best practices in everything from call centre technology, to agent training and cost reduction. Now, almost 20 years later, renamed as “Customer Contact Week”, there are more than 3,000 attendees turning up to CCW each year. I asked Karen how she had found the 2018 event:
“It’s been very exciting. Day one was amazing, and this is a great event for customers and prospects to hear our latest updates in an industry that is rapidly changing. We’ve got a prominent expo to show for Avaya too. We’re showing all our innovations and helping customers to explore the options they have with digital transformation. It’s interesting to note as well, Avaya just commissioned some research with IDC and a study of nearly 800 enterprise companies that found more than two-thirds of companies rate digital transformation efforts as less than extremely successful in achieving their goals, with only 19% driving true innovation. As customers are starting to understand how they can evolve the deployments they have today to cloud and hybrid models, and insert disruptive technologies like AI and IoT into the mix, we’re trying to offer assistance at every touch point. Every forty minutes, we’ve had talks and provided real-world examples and best-practice conversations to help audiences make good use of our unique technology to deliver superior customer experiences.”
How Do You Feel Avaya Stands Out At These Events?
Personally, I’ve attended several events either hosted by Avaya, or conferences that Avaya has been an important part of. During my time at these events, I’ve noticed that Avaya is incredibly good at creating stands and showing customers how they can make the most out of the technology available to them.
According to Karen, one thing that Avaya excels at is showing off use cases and examples for event attendees.
“When we put these demonstrations together – the ones we’re using at CCW- we actually work with a number of innovative customers to develop and showcase examples that solve unmet needs. As the leader in this industry, these are more than just ideas, we more clearly understand what users are challenged with today, and step up above the competition to showcase what customers need to see and hear from us in a venue like this.”
By creating use case examples that new clients and prospects can really resonate with, Avaya offer customers a great insight into the possibilities of their technology at events like CCW – whether you’re looking at digital transformation, increasing productivity with customer journey mapping, or you’re trying to reduce the costs of 1800 numbers with unique personalized services that leverage the power of mobile devices.
What’s New for Avaya Lately?
Since CCW is a great environment for vendors to come and share the latest updates in their portfolio, I was keen to find out what was new in the Avaya stack as of late. One of the most recent solutions Avaya has introduced just in time for CCW is their workforce optimization suite.
“We’ve announced some key enhancements in our workforce optimization suite that really make it a leading solution – one of which being timely support for GDPR. As companies continue to look at regulations, the ability to encrypt information, tag data and more, it’s important for companies to know how to be compliant. We can talk about customer journeys and giving agents better insights into the customers they interact with, but these new regulations give customers much more control over the information businesses can have and store. With this new release, we make sure our software is compliant.”
Avaya was also in the midst of some new releases at Avaya Engage during the same week as CCW. Karen told me that the company had recently announced a new “Master Sales Agent” program and an enhancement to their web store to help suppliers access UC more efficiently.
How Does It Feel to be in the Gartner Leaders Quadrant?
It feels like a lifetime has passed since Avaya were dealing with the stress of Chapter 11. Since they came out of Chapter 11 and now a public company, they’re back in the game, bigger and better than ever. In fact, Karen told me that they’re once again a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant associated with Contact Centre Infrastructure. This is the 17th time that Avaya has been in that leadership position.
As a company clearly well positioned for the contact centre of tomorrow, Avaya has proven to Gartner and their customers that they’re ready to offer next-level services for a digital age. Karen told me that Avaya’s Gartner position is “yet another proof point” of maintaining its leadership in this industry, and she shares CEO Jim Chirico‘s feelings that their leadership position comes from their ability to help companies manage customer experience and digital transformation.