Avaya’s Karen Hardy on AI, Cloud, and Customer Experience

This syndicated post originally appeared at Zeus Kerravala, Author at eWEEK.

Avaya’s Global VP of Products discusses how the company is modernizing its platform to meet new customer demands.

The pandemic has permanently changed the way people work, as well as the role that communication and collaboration technology plays in our lives. Clearly, the hybrid work model is here to stay post-pandemic. One vendor at the heart of this digital transformation is Avaya, whose roadmap for hybrid work involves an open platform that focuses on organizations’ current and future communication and collaboration needs.

In my latest ZKast, I sat down with Karen Hardy, Global VP of Product Management at Avaya, to discuss how the transition to hybrid work is shaping the vendor’s product strategy. Hardy and I met live at Avaya’s Customer Experience Center in New York City, an immersive space showcasing its technology. Highlights of the ZKast interview, done in conjunction with eWEEK eSPEAKS, are below.

  • Avaya’s customer base ranges from large enterprises to small and midsize businesses (SMBs). The vendor makes it easy for customers of all sizes to adopt cloud capabilities via a subscription. Specifically, the Avaya OneCloud communications platform as a service (CPaaS) offers software and subscription licenses for communication and collaboration services, which organizations can implement at their own pace.
  • Avaya customers are leveraging multiple cloud deployment models using OneCloud. The platform can be deployed as a private cloud, public cloud, or a combination of the two. A customer may use private cloud for some apps and public cloud for others since both offer different benefits. For this reason, most organizations will adopt a hybrid cloud model over time—95 percent to be exact, according to ZK Research data.
  • While public cloud has traditionally been used by SMBs and private cloud by larger enterprises, there is a convergence of public and private cloud capabilities happening right now. Avaya recently expanded its partnership with Microsoft by offering its OneCloud portfolio on Azure for customers that want to deploy in a hybrid, public, or private cloud environment.
  • Avaya also partnered with another competitor, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (ALE), a global provider of communications, networking, and cloud solutions. Through the partnership, ALE will resell Avaya’s OneCloud contact center as a service (CCaaS) capabilities to its international base of nearly one million customers and 3,000 partners.
  • Both of these partnerships are helping Avaya reach new markets through its Experience Builders program. Experience Builders is an ecosystem of partners working closely with Avaya to help organizations create unique experiences for users. For instance, organizations can subscribe to existing experiences or build new AI-powered experiences by tapping into the ecosystem.
  • Artificial intelligence is a major focus area for Avaya. The vendor is using AI in contact center (CC) and unified communications (UC) solutions to make agents more productive by providing them with an immersive experience. Contact center agents are leveraging AI to get help during interactions with customers, as well as for noise cancelling to drown out background distractions. These are just some examples of AI use cases.
  • Everybody expects AI to be perfect out-of-the-box, but the technology needs to learn in order to improve. Avaya Virtual Agent is a no code/low code tool that can be deployed in ten clicks or less and customized for specific needs. Organizations can build simple chatbots that handle basic tasks like bill pay or use conversational AI to create virtual agents that communicate with customers in a humanlike way.
  • These solutions and Experience Builders partnerships are driven by customer demands. Avaya has a diverse customer base, which includes legacy customers and products. The vendor wants to provide a path to cloud for every customer through AI, data analytics, and by bringing innovation to the desktop.

Author: Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.