Joe O'Halloran

Avaya assures future-proof global communications with Enterprise Cloud

Comms tech provider kicks off user group conference proclaiming company is back, and unveils tech for firms to pursue hybrid cloud models by hosting parts of comms infrastructure in dedicated cloud instance

Opening Engage 2023, Avaya president and CEO Alan Masarek (pictured above) welcomed delegates with news that the company was firmly back as a player in the enterprise comms market. He proclaimed customer experience as key, explaining they need Avaya to produce and deliver the products that help bring them forward via technology innovation without disruption, leading to the launch of Avaya Enterprise Cloud.

In the new customer experience world, he stressed that in enterprise communications, firms need to implement the latest technologies, such as those based on artificial intelligence (AI), throughout their businesses, and that Avaya’s customers needed to trust the firm to provide that innovation. However, at the same time, they must avoid the disruption that comes from having to rip out existing systems and processes.

And this, Masarek said, brought challenges, as brands in the internet economy struggle to differentiate based on product, price and availability in a customer experience technology world expected to be worth about $40bn by the end of the decade, with a compound annual growth rate somewhere between 15% and 20%.

He added that if Avaya could play its poker hand better, it could be hugely successful. “You can find a very, very similar product somewhere in the world,” said Masarek. “You can do price discovery immediately via the internet, and you can get it delivered tomorrow. So it’s ever more challenging to differentiate yourself based upon the traditional elements around product price and availability. It’s about customer experience.”

To make this real, he said it was clear that when he arrived at the company it had to transform in two ways: financial restructuring and business restructuring. The company, said Masarek, has eliminated the vast majority of its debt, recapitalising and right-sizing its cost structure so that it was a cash generator.

“I feel that sense of enthusiasm, which is a culture that is turning around,” he said. “Now, if we think about what we’ve done on product strategy, we’ve reset our north star towards what we now call the experience platform, the Avaya experience platform, because it’s the belief fundamentally that the world is increasingly going to the cloud. But going back to our customer base and the theme of strategy innovation without disruption, everyone doesn’t go into cloud in the same rate.

“Many customers go very slowly, if at all, because … they come often from sensitive or highly regulated industries … where it’s very important from a reliability or control perspective to have on-premise-based solutions,” said Masarek. “So while we set our north star unequivocally on developing the platform on the Avaya experience platform, it doesn’t mean we’re walking away from on-premise at all … on top of voice [and] contact centre, you want to bring in chat and social and digital, and some of the AI technologies, but you don’t want to rip out the stuff underneath because it’s not just change management. It’s not just some aggravation. It’s fundamental business risks that folks want to avoid.”

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Fitting into this model, Avaya Enterprise Cloud is designed to provide a dedicated software instance hosted on Microsoft Azure for contact centre and unified communications functionality. The offering is claimed to allow organisations to pursue hybrid cloud models by hosting parts of their communications infrastructure in a dedicated cloud instance, while integrating “seamlessly” with premise-based technology, a capability Avaya says is in high demand from large enterprises everywhere.

“Most large contact centres have premise-based call routing systems that are both complex and highly bespoke,” said Avaya’s global vice-president of product management, Tim Sherwood. “These systems have very long lifespans, and customers have little appetite for enduring the disruption, and fundamental business risk, that replacing them entails.

“But every business is somewhere on the journey to the cloud – whether that’s to consume more advanced functionalities, to rationalise parts of the infrastructure, or simply to reduce the need to manage premise-based architectures. That’s where Avaya Enterprise Cloud comes in; the solution helps organisations enhance their communications solutions at a measured pace. And because many of the largest enterprise customers have standardised on both Microsoft and Avaya solutions, having Avaya Enterprise Cloud hosted on Azure provides an additional opportunity to benefit from their investments while connecting them with new, cloud-based capabilities.”

Avaya Enterprise Cloud also delivers personalised configurations, migration and architecture options, and a flexible and scalable pricing model. Building on an expanding technology alliance between Avaya and Microsoft, Avaya Enterprise Cloud follows the technical direction set by Avaya Experience Platform, Avaya’s contact-centre-as-a-service offering.

“Hybrid deployments give organisations the flexibility to take advantage of the known benefits of the cloud, while preserving their existing investments,” said Aragon Research CEO and founder Jim Lundy.

“Avaya’s enterprise-grade, industry-leading workforce communication and collaboration solution connects large workforces and provides streamlined implementation via standard reference architecture, including full-featured personalisation and self-administration,” he said. “Organisations can scale up or down with business needs and enjoy the freedom to innovate and grow without being locked into a single deployment model.”

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