This afternoon, Avaya’s vice president of developer relations and technology alliances, Eric Rossman welcomed a packed room to Avaya Developer day at this year’s Communications Developer Conference.
Rossman previewed a packed agenda that included a keynote presentation from renowned author and analyst Nick Lippis, and laid out the roadmap for the rest of the day’s sessions including an overview of the Avaya DevConnect Program as well as platform specific observations on the following topics:
- Avaya APIs and Web Services
- Avaya & Ubiquity – SIP Development Opportunities
- Developing Speech Enabled Self Service Applications
- Developing IP Phone Applications
Rossman finished his introduction and left the developer with this thought:
“Real estate in San Jose and Basking Ridge is expensive. But ask yourselves this: “How expensive is the real estate on the CIO or CEOs desk?” That’s the development opportunity.
With that Rossman introduced Nick Lippis, who launched into his presentation titled “Communications Enabled Business Processes — A Status Report”
“The Communications space couldn’t be any more exciting than it is right now,” he began.
Lippis laid out his agenda, which included new opportunities for developers and his key theme, Communications Enabled Business Opportunities or CEBP for short.
The three main takeaways of his speech were:
- The maturing of IP telephony;
- Current application integration difficulties; and
- The new world of Unified Communications (UC) and CEBP
We’re in the midst of a transition from TDM to IP telephony,” Lippis said. He cited three distinct phases of IP telephony and he believes we find ourselves in the latter stages of Phase 2.
Phase 1: Experimentation Lippis referred the audience back to the 1995-96 timeframe and noted the strategic acquisitions by Cisco and others of early VoIP visionaries. This early phase was characterized by using VoIP for transport; proprietary signaling; and a very small scale product/solution set.
Phase 2: Replacement phase: Lippis believes this is where we as an industry find ourselves today, in a market displaying the following characteristics:
- Linux Based,
- Open Protocols (SIP)
He said that economics are starting to play a major role here as well, as customers are focused on things like acquisition cost, lower TCO (total cost of ownership) and other such questions.
Phase 3: And lastly, Lippis believe we are headed towards a ‘Strategic Value’ phase, where communications will increasingly be linked into a company’s business processes. The IT and communications arenas are converging at application layer, he said, and this integration will be enabled by advances in SIP, UC, Web Services and SOA. The IT departments are now taking control over communications.
The reasons are many Lippis explained, but companies are looking for competitive differentiators and advantages beyond their back end applications. They are looking to link the front and back ends like never before in order to increase their employees’ productivity, with an eye towards providing increased levels of customer service with the hope of generating customer loyalty. These are the differentiators that a customer facing organization needs to embrace, and C-level executives are finding themselves asking the following question: “Are all the systems in my company working together to deliver value to the customer?”
As we enter Phase 3, Lippis implored the crowd, “much work needs to be done. There is a tremendous opportunity for developers.”
CEBP is a change agent, Lippis said, and he illustrated a whole series of changes that are taking place today.
IP telephony providers are becoming application delivery platforms.
Hardware-based value is shifting to business value based on software and services.
Specialized communications software is moving to general purpose IT applications.
Legacy, communications-specific programming interfaces (i.e., TAPI, TSAPI, etc…) are yielding to general purpose web services programming interfaces.
And, siloed communications applications are turning into unified communications applications acting as a portal into CEBP.
Lippis went on to talk about how our industry has no organizing principle for communications application development. Not yet. He also reiterated that there is a huge wall in between communications and back office business applications.
The solution lies in CEBP. New approaches are injecting communications into business processes; wrapping communications around business processes to increase profit/revenue. And of course, these new solutions promise to reduce human and system delay in workflow, and lead us into a new more agile economy that will have the following distinct characteristics:
1.) improved knowledge worker productivity;
2.) business communications activity monitoring;
3.) businesses will have the ability to respond in near real-time to situations; and
4.) situational context and event triggering will equal a dynamic/adaptive enterprise.
Lippis gave an example of how Communication Enabled Business Processes might work in a healthcare scenario, and to prove his point, he cited John Halamka MD, CIO Harvard Medical School.
“Every year,” Lippis quoted Halamka, “98,000 patients die due to preventable medical errors in the business process of care. That’s like a 747 crashing every day. If hospitals were airlines, would you fly?”
The point is that even a minor improvement in business process communications can be meaningful in critical scenarios. Just a 10 percent improvement in Hamalka’s health care example would yield a savings of nearly 10,000 lives. That’s a huge impact.
Of course we still face myriad challenges, but the development opportunity is definitely there. Developers will see an ever-increasing role in maintaining strategic relationships with customers. They will have a massive opportunity to link front-end (communications) and backend (business processes) systems.
Lippis closed by pointing out some of the vertical markets or industry sectors that might be considered low-hanging fruit, such as financial services, healthcare and even transportation and education.
“Decoding which processes to integrate first will be a challenge,” he said, “but in the end, integration will rule the day.”