Just Breathe: Building an IT Reputation During COVID-19 - No Jitter

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Just Breathe: Building an IT Reputation During COVID-19 - No JitterJust Breathe: Building an IT Reputation During COVID-19 - No JitterPosted: 07 Apr 2020 04:04 AM PDTAs COVID-19 runs its course, telecom managers are adjusting to changes like everyone else. Another IT leader in my company recently sent this email, and it seems appropriate to share at this challenging time:Patience is a virtue, and a little kindness goes a long way.The time was and is bound to come, perhaps multiple times due to the increased stresses of the current global situation where we all start to feel stressed out, far overworked with no end in sight and short-tempered. Everyone needs to take a moment to breathe and please don't forget to keep taking a moment when necessary going forward. This already applied implicitly but in times like these when the volume and criticality of requests are several multiples higher and with our daily lives being twisted into something unfamiliar, it needs to be explicit. Eve…

Avaya Collaboration, Contact Center Portfolios Receive Upgrades, AI Injection - CRN: Technology news for channel partners and solution providers

Avaya Collaboration, Contact Center Portfolios Receive Upgrades, AI Injection - CRN: Technology news for channel partners and solution providers


Avaya Collaboration, Contact Center Portfolios Receive Upgrades, AI Injection - CRN: Technology news for channel partners and solution providers

Posted: 04 Feb 2020 12:00 AM PST

Avaya is smartening up its contact center portfolios with artificial intelligence and is making its low-cost collaboration application more robust.

Avaya IX Spaces, the company's cost-effective cloud team collaboration application, can now scale to accommodate more users in cloud meeting "spaces" and integrate with existing Avaya hardware, as well as third-party collaboration tools, the UC giant announced at Avaya Engage 2020 in Phoenix on Tuesday.

In the contact center space, Avaya revealed a new partnership on Tuesday with Afiniti, an AI-based behavioral pairing technology provider. The team-up is bringing forth a new offering for the Avaya IX Contact Center portfolio; Avaya AI Routing with Afiniti AiRo.

[Related: Avaya Engage Features RingCentral-Powered UCaaS Offer, UC Subscription Models For Partners ]

Avaya IX Spaces offers messaging, meeting, content sharing and task management via browser or mobile device. Avaya today announced that IX Spaces is now available in over 60 countries and can support up to 500 video meeting participants. The product also now features connectivity with existing Avaya IX Collaboration Unit CU360 huddle and SIP-based video room systems and integrations with Google, Slack, Microsoft Office 365, Outlook, and Teams.

Avaya IX Spaces is also now available via a monthly subscription-based pricing model, which includes upgrades to the latest releases and Avaya support. Avaya partners have access to sell via Avaya IX Spaces in subscription bundles to their customers, said Karen Hardy, vice president of product marketing for Santa Clara, Calif.-based Avaya.

Avaya AI Routing with Afiniti AiRoy in the call center will help businesses improve customer interactions and employee engagement by pairing customers with the right contact center agents using AI. The product can identify subtle patterns in human interactions in real-time, which translates to better outcomes in the contact center space, Hardy said.

The new offering gives businesses measurable results that can be tracked via customer retention, first contact resolution, and average handle time metrics through a self-service interface. Avaya AI Routing with Afiniti AiRoy is also available in a subscription pricing model, the company said.

Altura Communication Solutions, an Avaya Diamond partner, is seeing a lot of interest in from its customers in AI. The Fullerton, Calif.-based solution provider is serving up contact center solutions to state and local government agencies and healthcare customers, said Bob Blazek, president and CEO of Altura Communication Solutions.

Most recently, Altura has been helping healthcare clients integrate Avaya's contact center solution with their Epic Systems' electronic health record platforms. Features like AI will help Altura's customers get the most out of their contact center investments, Blazek said.

"A lot of hospitals have invested a great deal of money into their electronic health record systems and now they are looking to get a return on that investment. To be able to integrate your communications system in with your entire patient record system has a lot of advantages and now they can show they are adding value to the patient experience," he said.

Anthony Bartolo, executive vice president and chief product officer for Avaya, said at Avaya Engage 2020 that contact center as a service will be a key investment opportunity for the UC giant and its channel partners in 2020.

Are You Ready for New E911 Regulations? - No Jitter

Posted: 04 Feb 2020 12:00 AM PST

For the last several years I've been fortunate to moderate a session at Enterprise Connect focusing on enterprise challenges in managing E911. This year, with two new federal regulations about to go into effect, our annual session takes on an even greater importance for those responsible for telecommunications infrastructure, applications, and services.

Reducing Trouble Issues

The first of these new regulations is Kari's Law. Signed into law in February 2018, Kari's Law stemmed from the tragic story of Kari Hunt Dunn. In 2013, Kari's estranged husband attacked her at a motel in Texas in front of her three young children. One of her children knew to call 911 in an emergency, but was unable to reach first responders because the hotel's phone system required first dialing a "9" to reach an outside line.

Thanks to the efforts of Kari's father Hank and Mark Fletcher, chief architect of Avaya's public safety solutions, Kari's Law will increasingly ensure that anyone can pick up a landline phone anywhere and dial 911 directly without the need to first dial an extra digit.

Kari's Law requires that entities that manufacture, import, sell, lease, and/or install systems after Feb. 16 must be compliant with Kari's Law. That is, when installing a premises-based or hosted system that operates as a multiline telephony system (MLTS), an enterprise must ensure that the system:

  • Allows for direct dial of 911 without having to first dial a prefix to reach an outside line
  • Provides notification, with call location information, to either a security station at the facility from where the call originates, or to another person or organization
  • Requires that 911 calls are routed to a certified public safety answering point (PSAP) and cannot be intercepted
As noted, all new MLTS implementations after Feb. 16 must comply with Kari's Law. However, the law does not require organizations to ensure compliance for existing systems. But because failure to bring existing systems into compliance may create risk, you would be wise to consult your legal counsel and determine a proper forward path.

The second new regulation is the "Repack Airwaves Yielding Better Access for Users of Modern Services Act of 2018," or RAY BAUM'S Act, named after Ray Baum, the late Oregon state representative. Baum worked with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on telecommunications issues while serving on the staff of Oregon Rep. Greg Walden.

RAY BAUM'S Act amends the Communications Act of 1934 to reauthorize appropriations for the FCC. As part of this reauthorization, Section 506 of the law and subsequent FCC rulemaking require that phone systems transmit 911 calls to the appropriate PSAP with "dispatchable location" information. As defined in the law, dispatchable location is: "the street address of the calling party, and additional information such as room number, floor number, or similar information necessary to adequately identify the location of the calling party." In a typical office environment, this could include building, floor, wing, office, cubicle, or other location information allowing first responders and in-building security personnel to know the exact location of the person calling 911.

RAY BAUM'S Act goes into effect for fixed-line operators on Jan. 6, 2021, and for mobile operators on Jan. 6, 2022.

Assessing the Implications

RAY BAUM'S Act federalizes regulations that have been in place in many states, and as such, organizations operating within states with existing regulations are likely to be compliant already. Kari's Law, on the other hand, is an entirely new federal regulation that requires telecom managers to ensure that their planned new systems or services are compliant.

In addition to these new federal regulations, many organizations have additional needs such as:

  • Misdial prevention to eliminate inadvertent 911 calls
  • Logging and recording of calls for future analysis or to support legal proceedings

As organizations move to ensure regulatory compliance, they must do so while operating in an environment where the shift to softphones and wireless workers, as well as mixed-vendor telephony environments, means that tracking location is increasingly difficult, at least until Next Generation 911 (NG911) solutions are widely available — hopefully in the near future.

Unfortunately, ensuring 911 compliance doesn't typically provide a quantifiable return on investment or reduce operating costs, so for many organizations, compliance efforts suffer from a lack of IT prioritization. As I've mentioned in past Enterprise Connect sessions, E911 is one of the few areas of unified communications with life and death implications. Failure to ensure compliance at a minimum opens a company up to regulatory violations and added risk. At the maximum, it may result in individuals not being able to obtain potentially life-saving emergency services in response to a safety or health situation.

IT leaders must take a proactive approach to ensuring Kari's Law and RAY BAUM'S Act compliance. Work with your telephony, PSTN access, and 911 management providers to assess what must be done in the short and long terms, and stay abreast of growing availability of NG9-1-1 solutions that will improve real-time location management and reporting.

Thank you to fellow No Jitter contributor Martha Buyer for assistance with this post.

Avaya ENGAGE Offers Cloud Office UCaaS Preview - UC Today

Posted: 03 Feb 2020 12:00 AM PST

Avaya ENGAGE Offers Cloud Office UCaaS Preview

Yesterday I landed in Phoenix, AZ, geared up for Avaya's annual unified communications conference, ENGAGE 2020. As I suspected when I set out to cover the event, this year would be dominated by the new UCaaS offering (Avaya Cloud Office) RingCentral and Avaya announced in October 2019.

The all-in-one cloud solution for voice, messaging, meetings, video conferencing, and collaboration is on show at ENGAGE, and I am elated to bring you more details about the much-anticipated UCaaS solution I predict will shake up the market, at least from the taste I got at ENGAGE 2020.

Avaya's new Cloud Office UCaaS solution combines RingCentral's industry-leading unified communications as a service (UCaaS) platform with Avaya telephones, services, and migration abilities, creating a robust UCaaS tool that will deliver cloud services and advanced collaboration functions.

Since October, there's been a lot of speculation as to what the deal might include, and now we finally have some more details. So, without further ado, here's everything I learned about Avaya Cloud Office powered by RingCentral which will be made generally available in the spring of 2020.

Unpacking Avaya Cloud Office

Avaya Cloud Office is an all-in-one call, team messaging, video conferencing, file sharing and collaboration UCaaS platform. It is device agnostic and comes with over 200 pre-built RingCentral-developed business solution integrations like Microsoft Office 365, Salesforce, ServiceNow, Zendesk, and Google's G Suite.

The public cloud solution is poised to eliminate the need for separate meeting services, as it will include unlimited video conferencing with up to 500 participants, a real game-changer if you ask me. For audio meetings, Avaya Cloud Office will enable up to 1,000 participants and let users share screens/files, etc. Business text and MMS are also possibilities with the new solution.

In terms of device compatibility, Avaya said its Cloud Office solution will work with its J139, J169, and J179 series phones, adding, it has plans add more as devices as it fine-tunes the solution. When it comes to customer support, one of the many perks of UCaaS, the solution will be managed by Avaya's customer success team.

Call management is another issue the new public cloud offering will take on, the system will feature analytics and use built-in reports to create dashboards so you can gain insight into key stats like missed calls, time to answer, meeting frequency, and the quality of your system's service.

Avaya is backing the solution with its leading security features, adding: "We want to keep businesses secure and operational while tackling the issue of compliance for cloud providers."

More Avaya ENGAGE Coverage to Come

Avaya already has over 120,000 customers, 100 million UC seats, five million contact center users in over 180 countries, and the RingCentral UCaaS deal will help to further diversify these figures for customers who want the reap the benefits of UCaaS.

Stay tuned as we bring you the latest from ENGAGE 2020, I am covering the event all week live from the Phoenix Convention Center here in beautiful Arizona February 2-5. The unified communications conference is expected to draw over 3,000 attendees, making it one of the world's largest conferences for the budding field of UC technology.

Avaya details feature roadmap for Avaya Cloud Office by RingCentral - TechTarget

Posted: 05 Feb 2020 12:00 AM PST

PHOENIX -- When Avaya Cloud Office by RingCentral launches on March 31, the product will be identical in features to the cloud-based unified communications suite that Avaya's partner RingCentral sells today.

But over the course of 2020, Avaya plans to add several features to the offering that will make the Avaya-branded product unique. Those extra capabilities include patented features from the vendor's legacy telephony products.

Avaya is also developing software to automate the process of migrating settings and users from its legacy gear to the cloud, although that tool won't be available until later in 2020.

The vendor hopes that enhancing RingCentral's base platform with Avaya features and services will help dissuade customers from buying cloud telephony services from a competitor.

Crucially, Avaya executives also made clear this week at the company's annual user conference that the price of Avaya Cloud Office would generally be on par with RingCentral's platform. "You're not going to see a price war," said Scott Shoults, vice president of Avaya's U.S. cloud sales operations.

Avaya and RingCentral announced in October a partnership that would allow the former to sell a product based on the latter's unified communications as a service (UCaaS) platform. Avaya had been losing customers to competitors like RingCentral because it lacked a competitive UCaaS product.

At the Avaya Engage conference, some businesses said the introduction of Avaya Cloud Office (ACO) had caused them to reconsider abandoning the vendor as they moved to the cloud.

"ACO looks like it might be what I go back with and say, 'Hey, check this out,'" said Bryan Aimetti, an IT admin for Infiltrator Water Technologies, a midsize manufacturer of wastewater treatment equipment. "It seems like a good option for us."

Avaya Cloud Office timeline and feature roadmap

Avaya plans to launch ACO in the United States at the end of March. The product will come to Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia over the summer, before being released in the Netherlands, France and Ireland toward the end of 2020. 

A business will need to have a legal entity registered in one of those countries to purchase the product. However, the service will provide phone service to employees in dozens of additional countries as soon as it launches in the United States.

Avaya has identified around nine Avaya-only features it plans to bring to ACO in 2020 and beyond. The first two items -- bridged appearance, and call park and page -- are targeted for release this summer.

Bridged appearance lets two desk phones maintain separate and shared lines, a feature typically used between assistants and their bosses. With call park and page, when a person places a call on hold, ACO will automatically send a page to another department or user to pick up the call. The feature is particularly useful to retailers.

Towards the end of 2020 or later, the vendor expects to deliver features that include line appearance, call appearance, hotdesking and support for the Avaya Audix voicemail service.

Avaya is also planning integrations between ACO and its on-premises products, although the company has not said when those features will launch. For example, the vendor wants to support extension dialing across cloud and on-premises endpoints. 

What's more, customers should eventually be able to use the IP 500 control box as a gateway between cloud and analog devices. That will ensure users can still place calls if the internet goes down. Also, it would let a hotel, for example, use ACO for back-office workers while keeping analog phones in guest rooms.

Avaya Cloud Office to support Avaya phones, devices

At launch, ACO will work with three models of Avaya's J series desk phones: 139, 169 and 179. RingCentral is also certifying the phones to ship with sales of RingCentral Office, the vendor's flagship UCaaS offering.

Avaya will work with RingCentral to certify B series conference room phones, L series headsets and the CU360 video conferencing system.

Avaya has marketed the ability to switch to the cloud without abandoning investments in Avaya phones as a benefit of ACO relative to other UCaaS offerings. However, most IP Office customers are likely using older devices, given that Avaya launched the J series only one year ago.

Avaya is targeting the new product primarily at small and midsize businesses, especially existing customers using Avaya IP Office. The product can scale to support organizations with tens of thousands of users. Still, the vendor expects many of those customers will prefer its private cloud offerings because of the customizations they provide.

In conjunction with ACO's release, Avaya will end most sales of Powered by IP Office, a version of IP Office hosted in the data center of Avaya partners. Partners will continue to offer the product in a handful of countries where Avaya Cloud Office won't be available for purchase anytime soon, including Mexico, Brazil, Chile and South Africa.

Avaya will also end the sale of a separate cloud-based UC product based on the IP Office and hosted on the Google Cloud Platform. Businesses were able to purchase that product through an online storefront.

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