Alison Hastings: Collaboration without boundaries

Unified Comms
Resellers are faced with a number of choices when it comes to team collaboration solutions but, given the situation the world finds itself in due to the spread of Covid-19, applications such as Avaya Spaces are being thrust in to the limelight as potential solutions to meet the challenges of working from home.

This March Avaya launched Spaces, a cloud meeting and team collaboration app that integrates voice, video, tasks, and sharing into one app that can be accessed from any endpoint device.

Spaces enables Avaya UK Channel Partners to help service their customers’ requirements around distributed workforces no matter where they are located.

Given the recent availability of Spaces, we put a number of questions to Ali Hastings, Regional Channel Leader at Avaya UK&I, to help improve reseller understanding of the application.

Comms Business Magazine (CBM): With so many collaboration solutions available in the market, how do you encourage your channel partners to get onboard with Avaya Spaces?

Ali Hastings (AH) We do have a ‘try before you buy’ program, and specifically for educational establishments and not-for-profit organisations, we have a free to try offer where users can see the value in the application before they decide to buy. We are working closely with our partners in this sector to help users, for example to provide advice on the network capacity needed for Spaces applications such as Video so that full end to end communication is achieved.

Unlike its competitors, Avaya Spaces offers collaboration in real time but does not require an audio/video meeting to be open. It’s scalable, allowing up to 500 participants in one call with up to 35 of them visible on simultaneous video. Unlimited online storage and persistent cloud Spaces for messaging, meetings, file sharing and task management are great advantages and make it a cost effective, easy-to-use and feature-rich solution.

Because the application is entirely web based, there is no application to download and install and no need in fact for any IT department involvement in what must already be a very busy time for them. Users can be invited to an Avaya Space by email – there are no firewall ports to be configured.

Spaces is therefore a browser-based application that is compatible and works with a number of browsers including Chrome, which accounts for some 60% of web users, Safari and Firefox and voice communications are conducted via Web-RTC.

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CBM: How does Avaya Spaces compare to Microsoft Teams and the other remote working collaboration tools on the market? What makes it different?

AH: It’s the immediacy of the application. Users can instantly create a Space for any project; it is designed as a complete productivity tool in a ‘consumer’ style that will feel familiar which means there is little or no need for training.

As a result, onboarding for Spaces is so easy – once you have brought a user to their first session to give them the awareness, they are familiar with the application.

To date, Avaya has been focussing on the application’s core functionality to provide an uncluttered experience whereas many of our competitors are targeting specific user cases.

In addition, Spaces isn’t just for video collaboration and online meetings – it’s a productivity tool with task management, links to documents, online storage and more. The Space can contain documents, links to videos and other files, agendas for meeting and action points arising.

If we take the education sector then a teacher could create a Space for Year Three Maths and invite by link pupils and their parents, cover links to what the lesson covered and details of homework. Yet another space could be created for Year Three English with similar topic relevant content.

CBM: What are the top three factors to consider when choosing a collaboration solution to enable a successful remote workforce?

AH: Its feature richness, simplicity of access, ease of use and deployment with simple on-boarding requiring little training.

Ed Says

At this critical time where everyone is being encouraged to work from home, effective communication is critical for business and anywhere you have dispersed teams and want to maintain productivity Spaces would seem to have a role to play.

Avaya is helping its channels with try before you buy schemes and an extensive set of Webinars for their new Spaces application which is scheduled to have even more features added in the near future. If you want to keep your business running, then Spaces is an easy way to do it.