Jirina Yates, head of EMEA marketing, Avaya

Jirina Yates, head of EMEA marketing, Avaya


You only have to walk down the high street of any UK town to know that the 1980’s are back with a vengeance. The resurrection of the decade most of us were hoping to forget brings with it a certain nostalgia, but in most cases it also evokes a mix of surprise and incredulity that something we thought had passed its best could be making a comeback.

Switching to a work context, many of the products and services we thought would die a death in the 80’s also appear to be undergoing a resurgence in popularity. One of the most interesting of these is fixed line telecommunications.

Making history

We remember the early days of mobile and the freedom it offered, and how revolutionary it felt compared to the constraints of fixed line; we remember the rigid working hours, fixed locations and, in the case of the career road warrior, the isolation it evoked.

Of course, as today’s generation adds its own modern twist to the 80’s

revival, so fixed line is getting a similar makeover. The first step to capitalising on this evolution is to not look back. Rather than focussing on the fixed aspect of traditional telephony and all the constraints it implies, we must instead start talking about a new ‘communication enabled layer’; something that facilitates both fixed line and mobile communications, and provides the mobile channel with more opportunities to sell rather than less.

Today, mobility is increasingly regarded not just as the ability for staff to stay in touch with the office when out, but the ability to actually take the office, and all its functionality, along with them. Giving staff the ability to carry the office in their pockets translates to more productive employees, more effective ways to do business and, ultimately, a better customer experience. A BlackBerry and mobile broadband is a good first step, but already customers are hungry for more.


Integrated mobility

Integrated mobility is undoubtedly the next step for any savvy business. For instance, we all know that VoIP can reduce business costs by enabling users to make calls via the internet while in the office. Yet mobile still plays a huge part in business because of its ultimate convenience.

Now imagine combining the two; offering your customers the ability to extend the cost saving capabilities of VoIP to their mobile phones without altering device, quality of service or coverage reach. With a modern IP network this is entirely possible. By routing mobile calls through a company’s existing IP network the channel can deliver substantial cost savings to customers, strengthen their long term relationships and create their own market differentiator in the process.

Naturally, cost savings like this will always attract customer interest, but add to this the ability to increase staff productivity even beyond what traditional mobile can deliver and the business case really starts to build. Something as simple as one number accessibility, which enhances mobility by allowing staff to be contacted on the device of their choice, be it deskphone, mobile, laptop, or PDA using just one number for all, is easy to use, easy to implement and can deliver substantial time and cost saving benefits.

In fact, one Formula 1 team reduced its on-location IT spend by a third with just such a set up; impressive savings even by F1 standards. Of course, the heart of this simple business efficiency is a robust communication enabled layer, or what we might historically have called a fixed line network.

Robust business case Move the focus more directly on to the end user, their productivity and responsiveness, and integrated mobile is again delivering a more robust business case than traditional mobile alone ever could. Messaging management delivers universal access to any and all messages, so that voice, email, or fax messages can be viewed from a PC, phone, or other wireless device and managed from any location.

This not only lessens the need for physical presence in the office, even to sync email or delete voicemails, but it does so without compromising efficiency since information is quickly and efficiently delivered to its intended users in a manner of their choosing, regardless of the form in which it was initially received.

Similarly, access to contact and information management also plays a role in the new integrated mobility, allowing users to connect to company directories and databases from any location, improving collaboration and problem solving in real time, regardless of physical location.


Unified comms

Giving employees exactly the same functionality on their mobile as they do on their deskphone, including the ability to initiate conferences remotely, access their phone book or start an IM conversation, can give businesses the opportunity both to close deals while staff are in transit and to save money in direct costs, key benefits in today’s economy.

Combine those time and cost savings with IDC’s predictions that the unified comms market will grow from $2.6 million in 2008 to $13.5 billion by 2013, and any negative perceptions around the constraints that traditional fixed telephony imposed are quickly replaced by a focus on the enabling capabilities this new communications layer affords customers, and the great sales opportunity it offers the mobile channel. Maybe we just need to face up to facts; the 80’s really weren’t that bad after all.

Avaya, a global leader in business communications, provides solutions directly and through its channel partners to leading enterprises around the world.

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