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How Avaya is retooling itself around 'experiences'

At a conference in Dubai, the company introduced its Experience Builders program, which aligns its services, partners, and developers around creating customer experiences.
Written by Zeus Kerravala, Contributor

One of the world's largest technology shows, GITEX, kicks off in Dubai this week. At the event, cloud communications provider Avaya introduced its Experience Builders program, which aligns its services, partners, and developers around creating customer and employee experiences. The new initiative is built on Avaya's OneCloud, designed to be a composable back end to enable Avaya and its ecosystem to deliver new experiences. 

Composable software is a system design principle that deals with the inter-relationships of components. A highly composable system provides components that can be selected and assembled in various combinations to satisfy specific user requirements.

The role of unified communications (UC) and contact center (CC) has changed over the past couple of years, driven by the pandemic. Prior to COVID-19, these applications were important but arguably not business-critical. Today, the world has changed, and more than half of all employees are working remotely for at least the time being, and customer interactions have shifted to being digital-first. A good way to think about the impact is that prior to the pandemic, communications tools were used by a subset of employees and customers; today, they're used by almost all of them. 

Off the shelf UC and CC applications serve the needs of many individuals, but not all of them. Others require more customized experiences, which is why the communications industry has pivoted from selling products to platforms. One might look at Avaya OneCloud and consider it one of many cloud UC and CC solutions because it offers that functionality. In reality, OneCloud is a CPaaS (communications platform as a service) solution that lets Avaya and its partners build unique experiences. The companies Spaces meetings product is a great example. While it is a full-featured meeting solution, the product was "composed" using Avaya's developer tools. 

In reality, Avaya has had a number of programs for different parts of its ecosystem to build on its platform. For example, DevConnect is its developer program for third-party ISVs, while technology partners might integrate using APIs. Multiple programs for different audiences are the norm in the industry right now, but Avaya is taking a different approach. Experience Builders creates a single program for its entire ecosystem, which unifies the knowledge base. 

Customers think about experiences one way, while partners might look at them differently. An ISV might have yet another view, as would technology vendors. With Experience Builders, anyone in that ecosystem can now harness the knowledge of this collective group. This streamlines development and, by sharing ideas across the ecosystem, Avaya can stimulate the creation of new experiences, which benefits everyone.

What's in the Experience Builders package

Avaya OneCloud is the foundation of Experience Builders, but the package also includes the following components: 

  • Artificial intelligence is a core component of Avaya's products, and the program will expose its ecosystem to its AI partners such as NVIDIA, Google, Nuance, and AWS. 

  • Integration tools and services. The program includes more than 40 APIs to connect existing Avaya systems with new cloud applications that meet the demands of hybrid working. The Avaya customer base is the largest in the communications industry, and this integration enables the Experience Builders audience to build on that base. 

  • Knowledge and insights. The program will include an Avaya Experience Builders Research Library that contains information on AI, hybrid work, cloud, and other topical trends. As the industry changes, Avaya will add to this knowledge base. 

Because the program brings together the existing ecosystem, Experience Builders currently includes more than 250 technology partners, 32,000 DevConnect companies, and 154,000 registered developers -- with 24,000 of these using OneCloud CPaaS and 7,200 channel partners and agents. Typically, when vendors build an ecosystem program, the first few years bear little fruit because the membership needs to be built from zero. In Avaya's case, the company can get off to a running start because of the programs it had in place. 

In addition to stimulating more modernized thinking, Experience Builders solves some fundamental challenges facing organizations today -- one of which is lack of developer talent, particularly with small and medium-sized businesses. The Avaya program provides extensive support to businesses of all sizes, including pre-built apps that can be quickly tailored to create a unique experience. Also, Experience Builders should enable its ecosystem to realize a much faster time to value through pre-built integrations, app connectors, and workflows. 

Lastly, the program helps with one of the biggest but underappreciated challenges facing companies today, and that's tying on-premises systems to the cloud. The cloud is all the rage today, but most established organizations just can't move everything to the public cloud overnight. Experience Builders contains a library of hybrid cloud services that solve many application and security issues. 

At GITEX, Avaya has several composable experiences on display from all different regions of the globe. While the formal program is new, Avaya has been working this way for some time. An education vendor, U.S.-based Toolwire, has integrated Avaya's UC product, Spaces, into its learning product to bring asynchronous and synchronous education together. Dubai-based EMAAR built a digital real estate product that leverages Spaces video inside-contact center application. Nuuday, Denmark's largest provider of broadband, communications, and entertainment services, launched an AI-based voice bot, Josefine, using Avaya OneCloud CCaaS and Google Cloud Contact Center AI to optimize customer experience based on customer interactions. These are only a few of the experiences that were quickly built through the program. 

Communications and collaboration tools are core to digital transformation, but realizing the value of UC and CC requires a different type of thinking. Instead of focusing on products, developers, and partners, customers must think about how to deliver the experience people want when they want it. Avaya Experience Builders enables the company's large ecosystem to make this pivot in a programmatic way that enables them to capitalize on the current experience economy. 

For Avaya, this initiative is critical in repositioning the company. It's the industry's oldest and most established communications company, but that's a double-edged sword. While this gives it a degree of gravitas that few vendors can match, it often gets pigeonholed as a legacy compared to its much younger peers. 

Experience Builders changes the positioning of Avaya and aligns it with current trends, such as customer and employee experience. During the past several years, it has revamped its product line into a composable application framework, and now it has the right program in place.

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