The huge disruption to the economy, and to the way employees work, led many organisations to re-evaluate their technology priorities over the last year. That saw unified communications transition rapidly from an area of increasing interest to an essential tool for business continuity.
According to Simon Vatcher, Managing Director A/NZ, Avaya, organisations nitially, and also out of necessity, prioritised the technologies they required for basic remote working.
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“It has taken a little longer for many to work out exactly how to truly enable a remote workforce,” he says.
The need for action on this is pressing.
A study commissioned by Avaya, called Life And Work Beyond 2020, revealed that those who reported being happier in 2020 than in 2019 identified working from home as a key driver of that happiness.
Almost half of those surveyed said they preferred to work remotely — or at the very least they wanted to be given the option to do so.
Other research reinforces this growing workforce preference. David Jones, the CEO of recruiter Robert Half, recently told Which-50 the number-one question candidates from the technology sector are asking in interviews is the prospective employer’s attitude to “hybrid” working — working from home and the office. To meet the demand of employees and prospects, companies have to be willing to invest in the tools to support them.
According to Vatcher, Avaya believes it can help organisations not only address the challenges of this new work-from-anywhere world, but actually come out of it better than ever.
He says that the pandemic has led to huge digital acceleration, compressing into months planning and decision cycles that would have taken years in the past.
But the lesson many learned was that trying to adopt a ‘business as usual’ approach by just remote-enabling employees with a bunch of apps was not ideal.
“For example, one of the biggest issues that organisations report is employees struggling with the fatigue of managing too many separate apps. They’re constantly switching between their video conferencing, their messaging, their email, their task management, and more. All while figuring out new ways to do business. Clearly this isn’t sustainable, particularly when work-from-anywhere is here to stay.”
To address this issue, organisations are investing in workstream collaboration. That involves replacing disparate communications tools with virtual workspaces that are easier to navigate and are built with contemporary distributed work environments in mind.
“It’s very exciting in that it’s driving a new conversation around remote employee and customer engagement,” says Vatcher.
It is also important to recognise that workstream collaboration solutions are different from regular video conferencing solutions.
“With Avaya Spaces we’ve leveraged the powerful framework of Avaya OneCloud CPaaS. That means our customers get sophisticated workstream collaboration capabilities within a unified, integrated, all-in-one solution, with zero business disruption.”
And the fact that it’s built on a communications platform as a service (CPaaS) means it is well placed to help transform companies’ legacy communications into something more fit for the new ways that we work.
CPaaS is a relatively new idea, so not everyone is familiar with it, says Vatcher. “The important thing is that it is at the core of the composable enterprise vision. Organisations today are looking at total experience strategies, which reimagine customer and employee journeys to the point that any experience across any touchpoint is effortless.”
And these strategies, he says, are made up of lots of composable solutions, which address specific use cases and experiences.
“So you’ll look at Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), which delivers best-of-breed building blocks in the area of employee experience and work automation. And then you’ll look at Contact Centre as a Service (CCaaS), which enables the creation of unforgettable multi-experiences for customers.”
According to Vatcher, CPaaS is the force multiplier that truly enables a total experience strategy to be delivered across the enterprise. “It helps organisations to rapidly innovate to address a wide range of use cases. It provides a layer that accelerates the pace of innovation on top of monolithic on-premises or cloud communications infrastructure. It connects them with the latest API-driven cloud-based capabilities, that they can then use to compose new experiences.”
Future of Work, Today
“Forget about the future — even today we’re enabling AI in the cloud through our CPaaS solutions,” says Vatcher.
Using the example of Avaya Spaces, he says organisations can quickly stand up features like AI-powered background replacement and noise elimination. “We can create virtual work environments so it looks like workers are in an office or briefing centre while eliminating distractions like barking dogs.
“In future, AI will also enable virtual cosmetics — fixing, for example, poor lighting or camera haze. Presentations will be enhanced with AI for more engaging meeting experiences.”
AI from the cloud also takes the form of something more like digital co-workers to get work done, he says.
“Searchable AI transcriptions will differentiate voices, create accurate real-time closed captions and translations, generate meeting minutes, identify and create tasks from within meetings or conversation streams. Richer voice commands will be available, while anticipatory search across multiple data sources will prioritise results based on activity.”
And importantly, if the AI is cloud-based and not reliant on processing power in the device, it works on nearly anything — old or new, says Vatcher.
“That’s all enabled through a framework like our CPaaS platform.”
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This article is published by the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit on behalf of Avaya