Cloud migration, contact center as a service, E911 and personalizing customer experiences were key themes for IT professionals from around the world at Avaya ENGAGE 2021, held in person and virtually on December 12-15 in Orlando.
“Our conference planning team did a great job, working closely with our partners at Avaya to deliver a safe and productive learning and networking experience to attendees,” said Oscar Moncada, IAUG president. Altogether, more than 1,200 professionals attended the event at Disney World’s Dolphin Resort, and 3,500-plus participated in the virtual sessions during the four days. The conference included three “Women in Technology “ sessions, and a well-designed Solution Expo where attendees could connect directly with Avaya and its business partners, and participate in the Passport for Prizes program.
For in-person attendees like Eduardo Castillo, Reto Industrial, Atizapán, Mexico, one of the many conference benefits was learning more about the Avaya roadmap. Scott Fudali, Carroll University, Waukesha, WI, said the sessions on E911 and integrations around TEAMS were particularly helpful, while Paula Vosters, Thrivent, Appleton, WI, learned about AI enhancements for her organization’s 800-seat call center. “This is my fourth IAUG conference,” said Scott Burns, California Coast Credit Union, San Diego, CA. “With all the learning and networking, ENGAGE is always a great value.”
IAUG leaders recognized the many contributions of volunteer members over the past year. Nick Kwiatkowski, Michigan State University, received the IAUG President’s Award from Frank Ciccone, SVP, North America sales, Avaya, and Colleen Jamieson, IAUG executive director, at the Wednesday General Session. On Tuesday, IAUG Board Member Adriane Davis was named the 2021 “Volunteer of the Year.” Other awards were the 2021 Engagement Award to the Toronto Chapter, Largest Chapter Growth Award to the South Africa Chapter, Virtual VIP Award to the Washington DC Chapter and the Chapter of the Year Award to the Orlando Chapter.
“Thanks for joining us at this busy time of the year,” said Colleen Jamieson, IAUG executive director. “This is our shared forum and we invite you to stay engaged as we transform the industry together.”
Avaya is making tremendous progress on its transformation journey, launching new solutions and streamlining operations with positive financial results, said Jim Chirico, president and CEO, Avaya, at Monday morning’s General Session. “We are leveraging the strengths of the cloud giants with Avaya’s unique technologies to deliver on opportunities for our customers,” he said. “We have the best team in the industry, and we are winning every day.”
Later in the session, Bronwyn Hastings, vice president, global technology partnerships, Google Cloud, noted that artificial intelligence (AI) can play a big role in the contact center. “AI can lower operational costs and improve customer satisfaction, said Hastings in a conversation with Stephen Spears, chief revenue officer, Avaya. “Automation helps humans do what they do best – solving complex problems.” Working with Avaya, Google Cloud has embedded these technologies into core products that drive value for customers.
Joining Avaya leaders on stage, Joshua Hoium, director of global network communications at Liberty Mutual, said planning was the key to the successful migration of the insurer’s claims contact center to a hybrid cloud. “We have seen a drop in wait and handle time, while improving the end customer experience,” he said in a conversation with Tony Alfano, SVP, global service, Avaya. To conclude the session, Ahmed Helmy, global general manager, Avaya OneCloud CPaaS, presented several examples of how organizations can automate the start of a customer journey to streamline the process.
From market-defining AI noise removal in Spaces, to the advantages of CPaaS, Avaya leaders focused on the benefits of the Avaya OneCloud Experience Platform at the Monday afternoon General Session. Todd Zerbe, SVP, solutions and technology, Avaya, outlined the connections among CCaaS, UCaaS, CPaaS and workstream collaboration – the pillars of the OneCloud platform. “Composability is at the core of our architecture,” he said. “It allows you to consume any cloud deployment model without disrupting your existing investment, reducing your cost to get to cloud.”
As goods and services become commodities, being able to offer memorable and meaningful customer experiences is crucial to market success, according to Dr. Joe Pine, management consultant and author, “The Experience Economy.” In his keynote talk, Pine emphasized the importance of building experiences that resonate with individual customers. “What gives our lives meaning are the experiences we share with family, friends and workers,” he said. “So you also need to build great experiences with your employees.” Avaya’s Frank Ciccone, SVP, North America Sales, and Simon Harrison, CMO, kicked off the session.
Taking a modular or composable approach is crucial for quickly developing experiences that matter, according to a panelists in a discussion moderated by Laura Faughtenberrry, senior solutions marketing manager, Avaya. “Using building blocks allows you to rapidly develop new applications that turn the possible into practical reality,” said David Lover, VP, strategy and technology, ConvergeOne.
David James, chief product officer, Toolwire, and Dr. Alex Feltus, professor, Clemson University, talked about engaging students when moving classrooms online. Brett Shockley, CEO and co-founder, Journey.AI, focused on incorporating trusted identity solutions into new customer experiences. As Tim Gogal, senior director, U.S., Experience Builders, Avaya, said, “What makes this fun is putting the ideas together and proving the value of our technology, and then letting the solution speak for itself.”
Lessons from Carli Lloyd
Women’s soccer star Carli Lloyd advises IT professionals to set personal goals and do something to keep moving forward every day. “Find a purpose in life, understand your role at work and keep improving,” said Lloyd in a conversation with Jenifer Bond, VP, U.S., state local and education sales, Avaya, at the Tuesday afternoon General Session. “Technology and sports go together, she added. “When used the right way, technology is an incredible tool for athletes.” A back-to-back FIFA world player of the year, Lloyd recently retired from her 17-year career as a professional soccer player. “My goal is to get a cameo on ‘Ted Lasso’” she said with a smile.
Astronaut Delivers Inspiring Message
Whatever your dreams, they are achievable with preparation, persistence and a willingness to take a risk or two. Dr. Sian Proctor, who was mission pilot of the Inspiration4 All-Civilian Space Message, delivered that message to Avaya ENGAGE attendees in the Wednesday General Session. Born on Guam to a NASA engineering family, Dr. Proctor has been a teacher, explorer, geophysicist and astronaut, along with creating artwork, writing poetry, and compiling a “Meals for Mars” cookbook. “I am a firm believer in lifelong learning,” she said. “Now, I want to inspire people of all ages to think about creating a JEDI (just, equitable, diverse and inclusive) space here on Earth so we can make a better world for tomorrow.”
Put the Team First!
Nathan Fa’avae, captain of New Zealand Adventure Racing Team and six-time world champion, delivered an inspiring talk through a 3D hologram presence. “When embarking on a long journey, you need to persevere and focus on one stage at a time,” he said. “Put the team before yourself, and be a valuable contributor. You also need to read deep into yourself when dealing with adversity.”
Avaya ENGAGE’s Charity Partner
Students from STEM2 Hub of Jacksonville spend Tuesday shadowing IT professionals at Avaya ENGAGE. At the Tuesday afternoon session, IAUG vice president Lori Wodrich presented Celeste Sciandra with an $18,000 check, including donations from IAUG, Avaya and ConvergeOne, to support the conference’s charity. The nonprofit is dedicated to helping to close the digital divide and cultivating an interest in IT careers at an early age. Learn more from the QR codes on conference signs.