Cloud Computing & Web Services f Matt Grech hJanuary 30, 2018

Avaya Engage Brings New Product Updates and AI Initiatives

As Avaya Engage soldiers on, so does the latest news and product announcements from the cloud provider. And, in the theme of delivering cloud focused solutions and integrating new technologies into their product portfolio, Avaya has not only introduced new products, but the provider has also expanded existing offerings to include the latest tech, specifically Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Natural Language Processing.

We wanted to highlight the most important product announcements in one location, offering a close look at how the provider is deliver on its new core principals and focus.

Where Is Avaya's Head At?

For those that haven't taken a look at our overview of Avaya's digital transformation, the provider is looking to shift gears. We heard the same sentiment echoed throughout the presentations at Engage, "Think Avaya, Think Cloud."

To help deliver this new cloud first architecture, Avaya is looking to focus on three main aspects:

  1. Automation and Artificial Intelligence
  2. Accelerating Open, Modular, Cloud First Architecture
  3. Adoptable Innovation

Avaya recognizes AI as a major trend that isn't going anywhere. In fact, the provider already has a strong initiative delivering AI to businesses through their A.I.Connect platform. In fact, one of the announcements to come out of Engage is the expansion of A.I.Connect to include three new partners -- but we'll get to that in a little bit.

What's more important is to recognize how Avaya is positioning their new products and innovations. But its one thing to talk, its another thing entirely to deliver, as I previously said. While Avaya CEO Jim Chirico has labeled 2018 as the year of stabilization for the provider, that doesn't mean we won't be seeing any new products and developments; rather the exact opposite.

The Latest From Avaya

It really is no surprise Avaya is announcing three major product updates at Engage. Jim said the company is looking to focus on stabilization, but that specifically refers to revenue loss, and Jim specifically pointed to the previous quarter as evidence of this stability. But at the same time, Avaya will continue to produce and deliver new offerings.

During a meeting with analysts, Jim explained that "there is an appetite for [Avaya] to grow this business," and that is definitely clear in the announcements we saw just today. Overall, there were four major launches I want to highlight to offer insight into how Avaya is not only stabilizing, but also growing their portfolio.

1. Avaya Ava

To start off with an interesting one, Ava is Avaya's latest foray into both Artificial Intelligence and automation, the first pillar of focus for the provider. This new solution can be summed up as a cloud based messaging-agnostic solution that offers AI capabilities for social messaging integration.

Now, that's the stuffy definition. In layman's, Ava is an artificial intelligence platform for customers to interact with through both social media and messaging applications. What's really interesting is that Avaya almost followed in Amazon's footsteps slightly. Ava was actually an internal tool, providing assistance to Avaya customers, delivering service and support without requiring a human interaction.

But now Ava is being offered as a product to other businesses, utilizing AI to transform their customer experience. Essentially Ava is a smart chat bot, engaging with customers through social media and messaging apps, as I said. But what's really cool is that Ava is actually available in 34 different languages, and can be integrated with Facebook, Twitter, WeChat, and LINE.

Of course, Avaya is also taking an open API approach, part of their second pillar of focus, enabling your business to integrate this tool with many other existing solutions.

2. New Collaboration and Desktop Offerings

This announcement mostly focuses on Avaya's existing Equinox solution, the provider's video conferencing platform. To fall in line with Avaya's new pillars of focus, Equinox has been "enhanced" to include extra features, specifically for the desktop application. First off, Equinox "now delivers a fully integrated user experience that is connected and consistent across the Avaya portfolio and all deployments: on-premises, hybrid and cloud," according to Avaya's announcement.

So, what does that even mean? Well, Avaya has now built-in new features like WebRTC for seamless video conferencing across multiple browsers and applications. For those that don't know, WebRTC enables video conferencing without the need to download any plug-ins or extra tools. But beyond that, Avaya has even taken a page out of Cisco's handbook, adding in digital whiteboarding capabilities to Equinox. Avaya also added what they call "true application sharing," for even more powerful collaboration.

But they didn't stop just there. Equinox also gains a new Attendant, a PC-based app that allows attendants or receptionists to manage inbound calls, as well as what Avaya calls "look ahead tools" with presence functions, quick access to common destinations or features, suggested call routing, and even contextual information to help provide a more personalized experience to callers.

3. New Phones and Endpoints

Despite now being a software company, both according to CEO Jim Chirico and also their revenue statistics (according to Jim, roughly 80% of revenue is now from software or services), Avaya went ahead and refreshed their endpoint product line.

While they are shifting focus to software and services, Jim explained that Avaya is still well known for their endpoints and deskphones, and expressed that it made sense for the provider to continue offering these endpoints since the demand is there. Its not draining revenue, so no reason to abandon just yet.

To break it down, Avaya is now offering a few new product lines of endpoints, according to Avaya themselves:

4. Avaya A.I.Connect Evolves

So I already briefly mentioned this update, but I want to dig a bit deeper into exactly what Avaya is doing with their A.I.Connect offering. To sum up A.I.Connect for those that are unfamiliar, Avaya is enabling businesses to leverage Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (yes, they are two different things) to generate new insights, process unstructured information and data from both CRM and ERP systems, and utilize these insights to improve user experiences within self-service applications.

Now that's a mouthful. Put simply, A.I.Connect enables businesses to provide the best experience possible leveraging Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. While the list of partners is already impressive, Avaya has announced that the list has grown to now include three new partners:

Overall, A.I.Connect allows a business to offer effortless self-service, smart routing, agent augmentation, insights into every interaction, and even enhanced workforce optimization. Each one of these new partners helps deliver on that promise.

Salesforce Einstein automatically discovers relevant insights into customer interactions, can predict future behaviors, and even recommends the best next actions for agents, while also automating tasks. eGain powers digital enables businesses to deliver high-quality customer service by empowering agents with AI guidance and knowledge, as well as guiding agents to the best support option. Sabio also delivers AI-enabled customer service solutions (surprise), enabling Avaya customers to deliver the best customer experiences possible.

The Bottom Line

Talk is easy, and talk is cheap. It's one thing to go up on stage and promise that your company is doing better than ever, and is focused on an entirely new paradigm. But delivering is the hard part, and that is where I was originally skeptical; can Avaya deliver on their promise?

Now I won't just officially declare they have delivered on this promise just yet, after all these are simply announcements. However, if these announcements are anything to go by, it shows that Avaya is looking in the right direction.

Again, I will be very curious to see how Avaya continues in the near future. I'm curious to see how these products preform, and if Avaya can truly deliver on their promise of a cloud focused digital transformation.

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