Avaya at Gitex

The biggest tech event in the Middle East, Gitex, opened its doors last month. Editor David Dungay went along with comms giant Avaya nearly one year after they successfully managed to exit Chapter 11 to see new innovations hitting the market and their strategy for 2019 and beyond.

Investment in the millennial generation
Whilst at the show, Avaya held its graduation for fifty millennials which had successfully completed its sales programme. Graduates were flown in from all over the globe to receive the accolade and Avaya announced the next round of graduates would be starting the process again shortly. Jim Chirico, CEO of Avaya, made his intention to invest in younger generations key to Avaya’s long term success. In a communications market which has changed considerably in just a few short years it’s hard to argue with this approach. The word ‘transformation’ was thrown around a lot over Gitex as Avaya looks to transition its revenues to software and services. Chirico believes that cash is also key to turning the company into a digital business and with Avaya’s current balance can turn the business towards the digital future.

Nobody mention the ‘Z’ word!
Avaya has been heavily criticised for its inability to transition to the cloud market. Avaya’s cloud proposition, previously called Zang, was purchased four years ago and we hadn’t seen much movement there, especially outside of the US. At the show Avaya announced it has launched a pure-cloud SME proposition for the sub-1oo market which is now live in Germany with a European roll out to come. UK&I MD, Ioan MacRae spoke to Comms Business and said the UK market should have access “in the next quarter or so.” The Zang brand is expected to disappear imminently as it is fully integrated into the Avaya portfolio. Currently cloud revenues sit at around 10%, Chirico is aiming at 25% coming from the cloud in just 2 years.

Zeus Kerravala, Founder and Analyst of ZK Research commented, “Avaya is an interesting company, on the one hand they are a brand that has been around a long time and you can associate them with the old world of building telephones. I don’t think that is the case anymore, it’s a much different Avaya. When you look at the products they have here, they have natural language bots, one cool product I saw would allow people to translate things in real time which is important in a country like UAE where there are so many different nationalities.”

Automation and AI is coming
Avaya was demonstrating the first social platform for chatbots at GITEX. Drawing parallels from traditional social media, Avaya’s latest innovation provides a structured platform for bots to engage each other in a secure and controlled manner with the intent of extending the expertise and effectiveness of each individual chatbot.

“With automation, organisations can overcome their human resource limitations and meet these customer expectations by delivering seamless, intuitive and intelligent experiences across all touch points. Bots are rapidly becoming one of the most powerful means to positively impact customer service, second only to face-to-face interaction,” said Laurent Philonenko, Senior Vice President, Innovation at Avaya.

Zeus Kerravala added, “Jim has been in for about a year and what you are seeing today is the efforts of that years where there has been so much focus on innovation. One of Jim’s stated goals coming into the role was to make Avaya relevant and I think he has done that. There is innovation across the board from contact centre to unified communications to the use of emerging technology. When it comes to Artificial Intelligence and IoT Avaya understands we live in a world where everything is connected and you need to be able to use the data from those connections to be able to create new experiences.”

Ed Says…

Avaya has made, and continues to make, big moves in order to catch up with the pace of change we are witnessing in communications right now. Is it enough? Gartner thinks so, they have just placed Avaya in the ‘Leaders’ section in the Magic Quadrant for UC and CC less than a year after the company emerged from Chapter 11… not bad going at all!

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine