One of the most innovative business communications companies in the world, and perhaps one of the most talked-about brands in 2017, Avaya has seen a particularly disruptive and transformative year in 2017. Known for their focus on delivering top-of-the-line technology for business productivity, customer experience, and collaboration, Avaya focus on bringing people together with the right technologies at the right times.
We spoke with Avaya’s pre-sales director for the UK and Ireland, Richard Buckley, to learn more about where he feels the market is headed as we head into 2018, and get some insights for CIOs planning their future. Richard runs a team designed to deliver solutions to enterprise and mid-market customers, through the partner channel.
What Has Avaya Done to Help Customers and Partners Succeed?
The first thing I wanted to know, was how Avaya has been focusing on delivering better experiences for partners and customers through 2017 – despite the confusion of Chapter 11. Richard told me that he felt the primary driver for 2017 has been the cloud.
“We delivered much more of a “cloud your way” solution this year, with partners from all backgrounds building out new solutions that are flexible, competitive, and capable of really building the market.”
Richard also noted that Avaya has been growing the Sales Engineering team that delivers to partners in their network too, simplifying the process of digital transformation (DX) for the network by ensuring that channel partners have access to all the support they need.
“From a customer perspective, we’ve been building on deeper consultative experiences with customers. This year, we were more focused than ever on business outcomes for companies, and over the last 12 to 18 months, we found that it’s crucial to have a complete end-to-end customer journey with clients to ensure they feel confident going forward. It’s been imperative for Avaya to get broader in our conversations with customers to deliver a complete omni-channel experience.”
What Have Your Key Takeaways Been for 2017?
With so much disruption in the marketplace throughout 2017, this year has been an incredible opportunity for learning and growth in the UC space. According to Richard, the focus for Avaya has been putting “business outcomes” first in everything they do. “We had to hit the nail on the head very quickly for our customers, by being clear about our benefits and ROI.”
A combination of a complicated political landscape in the UK and the concerns around chapter 11 has made it more important than ever for Avaya to show their value to customers in 2017.
“At the same time, we’ve been concentrating on enabling digital communications for customer experience. With the rise of chatbots and the opportunity to pass the flow of communications between different channels, it’s about making sure every customer has the technology they need.”
Another lesson for Avaya in 2017, has been the rising importance of the cloud in digital transformation.
“We’ve got much better at the cloud in 2017, and in terms of digital transformation, we’ve noticed that a lot of companies have a plan in place. Interestingly, however, we’ve noted that the customers that are the most successful are those that have an end-to-end strategy – they haven’t just approached technology in isolation. This has been really interesting as it’s showed us an evolution in the way that people are adapting to digital transformation.”
Richard also noted that perhaps the biggest takeaway for him in 2017, has been around the loyalty that customers and partners have shown to Avaya throughout the year. “It’s been really humbling.”
What Challenges and Opportunities Do You Predict for 2018?
As we head into 2018, there are a lot of challenges potentially saturating the market, from the threat of GDPR to the rise of consolidation in the industry. I asked Richard what he believes will be significant in the year ahead.
“Starting with GDPR, I think it’s really important for companies to think about how they treat data properly. Of course, there are contradictory regulations out there too that dictate that we need to record all the data that we get – so it’s about walking the line between new regulations and old ones. We’re working really closely with our legal team to make sure we’re helping our customers and partners appropriately with GDPR. I think the thing to remember is that it’s an end-to-end issue, not just a technology concern.”
In terms of other challenges, Richard felt that larger organisations are still struggling to embrace the cloud opportunity and move away from legacy. However, he also noted that there was an opportunity there in figuring out how to use hybrid solutions to take advantage of new technology.
Richard also noted that big data and analytics have become more important in 2017, and as we move into 2018 too.
“However, I think it’s about more than just big data – but the more precise data sets too, like contextual real-time analytics that can deliver valuable information at the right time. You don’t necessarily need huge data sets to improve customer service – you just need the right data at the right time.”
What Should Be on a CIO’s Priority List for 2018?
When it comes to preparing for 2018, Richard believes that the enterprise will need to start thinking about how they can place enterprise communications into a microservice architecture
“Microservices are so important for CIOs who want to deliver quick and changeable solutions. However, it’s going to be tough to make sure that all of the right systems are in place to allow for this new framework.”
Richard also noted that companies will need to get better at using contextual analytics in real-time, and automating certain systems too.
“I don’t think that we should be removing humans from the equation, but getting rid of human bottlenecks. It’s about serving customers in the best possible way, whether it’s through automated robotic processes, chatbots, or any other technology. “
“That links quite well with the microservices element when it comes to figuring out how you distribute that data effectively with the right middleware.”
Richard went on to say that Avaya has noticed customers doing a lot of incredible things with new technologies because they have the right workflows in place.
“We’ve seen companies using the blockchain to securely share data, and organisations today are more capable of trying new things and new technologies. The difficulty is that it’s not traditional IT in the marketplace now, CIOs will need to be more flexible if they want to succeed in 2018.”
As our conversation came to an end, I asked Richard if he had any final tips to offer customers and partners moving into 2018.
“My top tips for partners are: remember that cloud deliver is critical for 2018 if you’re in the UC world. I think adopting the right hybrid cloud services to deliver the right solutions from various providers will be essential. It’s important to remember that companies don’t exist in isolation – we’re all thriving in a complex ecosystem. Partners need to make sure that they have the right middleware in place to hook all of the available systems up in the right way for their customers, without creating a huge and overwhelming architecture.”
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