Recently I had a chance to have an in-depth conversation with Avaya about the trends they see for 2012 in the communications space. In particular I spoke with George Humphrey a Director and Line of Business Owner at Avaya and Diane Royer, Senior Marketing Services Manager.
The trends below are at times augmented or enhanced with my thoughts.
1) Mobility raises the expectation of availability
Voice is morphing in the enterprise and becoming more consumer-driven and as a result everyone is connected at all times and moreover everyone wants immediate action. Consumers want to know right away if that widget on the website is compatible with European power or if the red color of the lamp online is closer to burgundy, beet or pomegranate.
Consumers are walking around with smartphones today that are the computing equivalent of supercomputers of a few decades back. This means we not only can do anything anywhere from a voice and data perspective, we will need to in order to maintain our customers and jobs. This is certainly not a new trend – a huge jump in being able to work around the clock took place in the nineties when voicemail allowed executives, salespeople and others to check messages without being in the office. BlackBerrys continued this trend and the web and e-mail turbocharged it and today’s powerful devices, WiFi and 3G/4G networks have supercharged the trend.
2) Contact centers test the value of voice
More companies will calculate where voice communications fit into their value stream, from pure cost to revenue generation. This is straight from Avaya - I didn’t get into this one as I thought some of the other bullets were more interesting.
3) Contextual data spans the last mile of personal productivity
For those of you were around during the 1980s in the call center space, you may recall the call centers who could invest millions of dollars were able to connect their Rockwell ACDs to their IBM mainframes to allow a database dip when the phone call information appeared via ANI and this in turn allowed a screen pop on the agents desk when they answered a phone call. What could be “popped” depended upon what was in the database but the idea here is we can do “screen pops squared” today because a call can come in and we can leverage CRM repositories, enterprise search tools, social networks, blogs, wikis and you name it. It is really just a matter of organizing it all. The idea is the more information agents have, the better they can serve their customers and in turn the more loyal the customers will be, resulting in higher ARPU and stickiness to borrow some terms from the wireless space.
4) Businesses advance from social media to social business
The idea here is we are about to cross the chasm of social adoption in companies – the social company or social enterprise is around the corner which in tech adoption turns will likely take 5-10 years. Interestingly at a recent conference I attended one vendor told me about a financial company which installed a state-of-the-art social platform for their company to use. Problem was the majority of the company was made up stock brokers who were – let me put this delicately, closer to retirement than college. Basically the old folks couldn’t figure out the newfangled pokes, circles and the like. Who says I have to be diplomatic all the time? :-)
Point being once again, this will be a journey, not a destination we reach in the next few years. Are we there yet? No. Quit your whining and be patient. :-)
5) Social media and customer care enter into an arranged marriage
My family came to this country from one in which arranged marriages were the norm. Let’s just say you didn’t necessarily fall in love you were I suppose “told” to love. Keep that in mind when you integrate your contact center and social strategies as customers have to feel like the two are seamless and agents need to be able to navigate the Venus of the Contact center and the Mars of social with aplomb. Just keep in mind, you really need to get it right the first time as there is no prenup I am aware of.
The rest of these are straight from Avaya – stay tuned for more comments from me after number 12:
6) The SIP is raised again
early adopters have completed implementation of, and captured initial ROI from, SIP-enabled infrastructure; now they’ll begin deploying SIP-enabled applications to gain the next level of value.
7) Social interactions expose customer care’s flaws
Businesses can’t fake who they are in a “social” setting, because social interactions ultimately expose “the real you.” Some businesses will discover they aren’t portraying an image they prefer, so they’ll be compelled to reinvent what customer centricity is all about.
8) IT support staffs converge, part two
In many companies, voice and data support teams converged with the advent of Internet Protocol (IP) telephony; with the deployment of unified communications applications, more companies will blend their applications teams as well.
9) Continuous connectivity drives communications support services
Communications support services increasingly will involve proactive problem resolution via secure access links and live interaction when necessary via innovative Web environments.
10) “True” UC apps proliferate
IT departments will be compelled by business units and enterprise users to adopt more user-centric applications and devices.
11) UC managed services/outsourcing facilitates alignment between IT and business units
As business unit demands increase at an even faster clip, more IT departments will adopt managed services/outsourcing business models to keep pace. IT groups that resist will continue to struggle.
12) Clients take control of managed services
As IT departments better understand industry best practices around infrastructure management, they will become more discriminating about the services they purchase, their expectations for transparency into those services, and how they hold service providers accountable.
A few important points - on number eight, the company believes there also needs to be an evolution in IT meaning the director of infotech for the call center needs to understand data, UC, UC apps and be more savvy about MSP-based solutions. And on number ten, the concept here isn’t CEBP or Communications Enabled Business Processes it is more about BYOD – so think mobility.
I also asked the company how these trends are or aren’t manifesting themselves into sales and the response was more clients are seeing true value in UC and app-centric communications. Moreover, they are looking to more creative ways to procure solutions meaning the manufacturer becomes the systems integrator and moreover they are looking for more MSP-based delivery models.
I also asked about Avaya’s Flare collaboration environment which the company rolled out a short while back and they said it is available on the iPad – I downloaded it and it is pretty slick. In the future we can expect it to become video-enabled on this platform and Flare for Android and PC are coming in the spring of 2012.
I also asked about the company’s A175 tablet and didn’t get the sense this device is lighting the world on fire. Let’s put it this way – I knew it was tough to compete with the iPad at $500 when the A175 costs about $2,000. Now there is an Amazon Kindle Fire priced at $200. Believe me there is no comparison between the capabilities of the A175 and these other devices as it is multimedia-enabled and is really a super-powerful device for road warriors. It’s just that Avaya doesn’t have the appeal or consumer electronics name of an Apple or Amazon and this presents a challenge.
Another interesting point is that customers have seen cloud advertised so often they are interested in these types of solutions but they don’t necessarily need their system to be in the cloud. In other words it can be a solution which is MSP-based and OPEX oriented. In other words Avaya is trying to listen to customer needs and cut through the catchy cloud computing and cloud communications buzzwords to determine how they can solve their customer’s needs.
You can also see Avaya’s original thoughts on these trends if you are interested in seeing them without my added perspective.
You can see Avaya live as part of TMC’s ITEXPO where they have consistently been running their Technology on Tap events. It will take place Tuesday, January 31, 2012 from 5-10 pm EST in Miami Florida at the Miami Beach Convention Center (not the typical hotel setting you may be used to). Moreover the keynote will be given by the Author of Cloud Computing for Dummies, Judith Hurwitz. The company kindly requests you register in advance, thank you.