The Datalink Networks team is pleased to announce that we have added products and services from Avaya to our Unified Communications portfolio. We are especially excited about the telecom giant’s new cloud offerings. Last month, we had the opportunity to interview the company's SMB products and services with Jonathan Buckle, Area Channel Leader - US West at Avaya. In Part 1, Jonathan talked about how emerging from Chapter 11 has left Avaya with a renewed sense of energy. Here we discussed the company's wide portfolio of SMB products and services.
UCC Solutions for Organizations of Every Size
Datalink Networks: Tell us about Avaya IP in the Cloud. How does this product differ from other cloud-based UCC and UCaaS offerings?
Jonathan Buckle: All the development that Avaya’s ever done in all our products, and our heritage goes a long way back? You can trace the roots back a long, long, time - but it’s all available within the cloud.
We do have multiple products. We’ve always offered our customers choices. And some people say you have too many choices, because your portfolio’s too wide. But we are maintaining for all sizes of businesses, from the small to the very large, I would say some of the best solutions in the industry. And that’s whether you want to operate in a pure cloud model or perhaps a hybrid model, or actually even an on-premises model. Because the solutions are exactly the same in whatever environment you choose to operate? So we’re giving our customers choices, we do have a huge customer base that has to go on a journey to get to Avaya’s cloudand that’s not an overnight project to do that.
And so - to start with the very small, we have a business unit called Zang and so with Zang I can go online, I can sign up and 15 minutes later I have telephony and advanced collaboration features. And this is so quick to provision that as the hurricanes came through the US earlier in the year, we used this to provision our customers for disaster recovery. So if a customer came to us and said they were getting back into the workplace a few days later that they’d lost service through flooding or whatever, we would provision a Zang solution very quickly to get those guys back up and running.
We also have an IP office solution that’s focused on the mid-market, that currently today has about 600,000 implementations on a worldwide basis. We can deploy that in the cloud as well, and that’s very customizable to individual customer needs, and has advanced calling features. One of the benefits of deploying that solution is we’ve found a lot of our customers haveunique things they want to do. They don’t just want to sign up and get a standard set of features. There’s always customization that we have to do and the IP Office Cloud is very flexible for our mid-market customers to do that.
Part of the reason why we’ve been really quite successful with that cloud product line at the moment is that the partners do deliver it, they have local presence and they still deliver the local service to our customers. There’s no calling a call center miles away - you can still call the engineer you’ve always called or the company you’ve worked with for many years and get the same support and customer experience that you expect, but with the benefits of a cloud solution.
And then, the last area is for our largest customers, because our Enterprise solutions scale to huge amounts of users and really deal with complex requirements. As an example, in October while we were still in the Chapter 11 situation, we actually announced a global deal with Bosch, you may have heard of them, they’re a German-based global enterprise. The cloud solution we’re delivering for Bosch is for 160,000 users in a cloud model.
So from the very small if you need a few users, to a company the size of Bosch, we can deliver an end-to-end solution. And still deal with a lot of the complexities that legacy brings, because we don’t live in a greenfield world - there are a lot of businesses that aren’t starting from scratch and need help with any migration. We do have the largest customer base in the industry, and not everybody’s ready to move straight away. So we’re really finding that that sort of hybrid approach for our customers is working out really well, as well as offering to our new customers that completely pure cloud play that a lot of them are really looking for.
Near and Real Time Communication is Essential
Datalink Networks: Tell us: from the viewpoint of an end user, what would you say is the most important piece of technology for a business?
Jonathan: I’m not sure there’s just one piece of technology - apart from of course the Avaya equipment our customers have - I have to say that, don’t I? I think we’ve seen a trend from businesses buying products to looking more towards solutions and capabilities, and understanding what the business’ use are and how do you solve and fix issues and problems. Rather than any product X that does Y. Because we don’t sort of live in that world these days? We live in a 21st century world where personally you consume services that helps you live your life and do your job.
But I would say from my perspective, my personal perspective - the most important aspect that technology can help businesses is with - I call it real and near-real time communications. Because I think long before any technology was invented, it was communications and language which have underpinned any development. And I’m trying not to get too philosophical, but that’s caused the development of us as humans to a certain extent. And these days, we’ve come a long way? These experiences can be amplified I’d say with things like artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things and technologies like blockchain. And that really helps foster creativity and innovation, better productivity and efficiency. But the the real time communications is critical and we do see at times it gets ignored, it sort of gets a little bit taken for granted. And I think at Avaya we are real masters of that real time and near time communication experience, let me say that.
I’ll give you an example from yesterday: My daughter is 11, so she’s growing up pretty fast. And we’d ordered her some Christmas presents from a company we’d never done business with before. The order hasn’t arrived and I’ve had a a partial refund back on my card, so I’m like, I hope these presents are coming, but which ones, I have no idea? So I went on to their website and I hit the Contact Us button and guess what? I can’t call them. I can send them an email, so I sent them an email. And I get a response that says we’ll respond within 48 hours. I still haven’t got a responseand Christmas is coming. There was no capability to communicate in real time or near real time to resolve an issue and keep me a happy customer. I’m just giving you an example of something that happened to me yesterday but think about life or death situations or critical situations, a 48 hour response times is just not good enough.
I mean, this is where - you can’t take the communications experience for granted, that’s the most important thing in my opinion for a good customer and business experience, to fail there probably loses you a customer. That’s what we’re good at and we’re really good at helping customers understand how good an experience it can be. And really what not to do, as well as what does work really, really, really well.
Datalink Networks: What excites you most about the technology?
Jonathan Buckle: Let me say two things: Every day is different, it’s never dull. The pace of change and innovation means that you’re always learning and you’re challenged to understand the impact of newer technologies. You know, we are doing a lot of work with things like artificial intelligence and blockchain now and how to connect these millions of connected devices out there. I suppose what we do today was sort of the stuff of movies a few years ago, but now it’s reality. And I must admit I am sort of a little bit geeky. I really like to understand how technology works. I think that’s one of the things - the change and the challenge - I really enjoy that.
I think secondly and more importantly, the impact it has not only on the way we work, but the impact this technology has on the customer and you could say citizen when you’re talking about government experience. And that does provide me with huge satisfaction doing the job because there’s nothing better for me than when we’ve completed a project and you get to stand back and see how the technology perhaps has made the school safer and the educational experience a little bit more rewarding. You do get a lot of job satisfaction when you see and you hear what our customers say about some of the things we’ve delivered. I’ve been involved in some big call center projects, and when you can transform the experience that a customer has, from my really bad example I gave you to one that fosters that desire from a customer to do repeat business, then those things are why I enjoy the job. I’m passionate about the job. It’s the constant challenge, it’s never been dull, and it’s the opportunity to really see great transformational projects that deliver proper impact.
Datalink Networks: Anything we didn’t cover you’d like to add?
Jonathan Buckle: I think we covered everything. Thank you.
With a cloud-based unified communications system that’s “future proof,” you’ll be able to prepare for tomorrow’s technology while building better team and customer engagement experiences that will cement loyalty for years. Download the EBook and learn why it's time to move your Unified Communications to the Cloud.