Avaya Engage came out an interesting time, following the company's departure from their Chapter 11 Bankruptcy declaration. If there's one major theme circulating around the conference, its that not only is Avaya still around, they never actually went away. They took some time to restructure, move some capital around, and emerge a stronger company than they were about a year ago.
There has been one major motto that Avaya keep repeating throughout Engage, and that is "Think Avaya, Think Cloud." No longer does Avaya want to be seen as a hardware or legacy on-premise provider, instead they want to be recognized as a new, agile, cloud capable provider that's in the full midst of a digital transformation -- while also offering other companies the necessary tools and capabilities to full fill a digital transformation as well.
GetVoIP had a chance to sit in on keynote presentations, as well as press meetings with Avaya's executive team, shining light on what the provider is looking to do in the coming year, and the strategy Avaya is using to not only recover from Chapter 11, but to also transition into an entirely new provider.
The New Avaya
Not only following the company's restructuring after Chapter 11, Avaya has just recently went public, listing on the New York Stock Exchange. Overall, the company is building on top of its leading Contact Center and Unified Communications positioning, but also increasing investments in technologies, like the recent Equinox Meetings Online, to meet the new demands of companies in their digital transformations, as well as driving growth for Avaya and its partners.
“Avaya Engage 2018 comes at the beginning of a new journey for Avaya,” said Jim Chirico president and CEO of Avaya. “We’re stronger than ever and making the investments necessary to harness powerful technologies like cloud, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things that can change the game for our customers. At the same time, we are renewing our focus on customer and partner collaboration to lead our industry’s digital transformation. We will do this by shaping connections and delivering the experiences our customers expect.”
We already took a closer look at Avaya's new leadership and structuring before Engage, but at the conference the provider went into further details on the company's future outlook. Avaya has directly transitioned from a hardware company into a software provider, with roughly 80% of revenue coming from services, according to Avaya CEO Jim Chirico.
Jim also expressed that the company had no qualms or fears over transitioning into a public company, as they once were in the past. He explained that the year of 2018 will be about achieving stability for Avaya, while 2019 will be the true year of growth. As long as Avaya can continue to do what they say, and deliver what they promise, Jim has no worries about reporting to public share holders over private investors, especially when coming out of bankruptcy so recently.
"When someone knocks you down, its how you get up and how you carry yourself that matters. You need to learn from the experience to fight another day," Jim said in the opening keynote. "Its how you position yourself to succeed in the next fight that matters. I'm extremely proud the way Avaya got up off the mat, it was amazing how we stayed focused."
Three Areas of Focus
Just as Avaya has shifted from a hardware to a software company, the provider is now looking to transition directly into a Cloud focused provider. And with shifting their focus into delivering not only cloud products, but new technologies to provide their customers and partners with a leverage over competition, Avaya has identified three major areas of focus for the company as the product roadmap moves forward.
During the second day's keynote, Yogen Patel, the Vice President & General Manager of Solutions & Technology, outlined three major areas of focus for Avaya's future roadmap. Automation and Artificial intelligence were wrapped together in one, Accelerating open modular and cloud first architecture is the second, and Adoptable Innovation is Avaya's third area of focus.
1. Automation and Artificial Intelligence
One clear example of Avaya's push into AI and Automation was their recent acquisition of Spoken. This new platform enables Avaya to deliver both automation and powerful AI tools to contact center customers, directly through the cloud. AI is a major area of focus for a vast number of businesses, so its no surprise to see Avaya looking to stay in the game with the competition.
Overall, the provider wants to evolve their solutions to simplify implementation, but also to modernize customer engagement and utilize both AI and automation to drive loyalty and customer satisfaction.
2. Accelerating Open, Modular, Cloud First Architecture
This one almost feels like a no brainer. Cloud is absolutely where the industry is heading, if it hasn't already. Yogen explained that Avaya has begun utilizing containers to deliver their products, enabling a more rapid and stable deployment of their technologies and services.
But beyond accelerating delivery, Avaya is also looking to offer open solutions utilizing both APIs, an incredibly important acronym, and Client SDK's to enable open, modular applications. Avaya has an open architecture full system vision, and is looking to deliver a seamless experience across all tools and applications, while still remaining accessible and customizable using APIs, SDKs or workflows, and integration into an external ecosystem.
3. Adoptable Innovation
Now, of course, none of this would matter if the new technologies and innovation are not easily adoptable by partners and customers. Avaya wants to make it as simple as possible to adopt the latest innovation along side existing tools and technologies, not necessarily forcing clients to replace their existing technologies and services.
So you don't have to abandon or sacrifice existing capabilities just for your business to be able to embrace the latest innovations. For example, Avaya has developed their Aura platform to work with existing legacy, IP and even SIP phones, enabling a business to utilizing existing technologies with a newer platform. Embrace and absorb innovation at your own pace.
So, What Does This All Really Mean?
On the surface, this means Avaya is moving forward into the future. The provider has not only managed to climb out of bankruptcy, but (at least according to themselves) has managed to rise up even stronger than they once were. With 2018 as the year of stabilization, this is now the time for Avaya to prove to their customers that everything will continue as promised, and innovation is on the way. According to CEO Jim Chirico, just a glance at Avaya's last quarter's results help paint a picture of a stabilizing ship. What will be curious to see is how Gartner ranks this new Avaya after they took a hit in last year's UC Magic Quadrant.
However, we keep hearing constantly that Avaya is moving to the cloud, Avaya is promising to deliver innovation, and Avaya is stronger than ever. The old saying holds true, this is absolutely easier said than done. Jim also said that Avaya is now focused on making sure they drive profit, increase their top line, and deliver on customer satisfaction -- but we need to see real world evidence of this happening before we can declare this to be the case.
Now, I'm not saying Avaya is all talk -- they are delivering new products, acquiring new technologies and innovations, and are looking to push forward. Engage is a clear example of the provider continuing to stand on its own two feet and show the market that they are still here, and still a strong option. However, only time will truly tell if Avaya can deliver on their promises.
As Jim said, "if we do what we say we are going to do, we will be fine."