The year 2017 has been a memorable one for Information Technology. New technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and blockchain have become ever-more important with the promise of much more to come in 2018. Here we ask Savio Tovar Dias, of Avaya International, what he made of the outgoing year.
What do you perceive as the breakthrough technology development from 2017?
Over the course of 2017, Avaya has been working with organisations to design solutions to create superior customer experiences and drive business success in today’s digital world. Fundamental to this digital transformation has been creating open, standards-based platforms that protect organisations’ existing investments while making it easier to leverage new technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and blockchain to deliver business value.
In particular, blockchain was on everyone’s mind in 2017 – and for good reason. Blockchain has the potential to create new foundations across economic and social systems, marrying enormous volumes of historical and real-time data into actionable insight. While the technology is still nascent, by augmenting existing business processes with blockchain technology, the market has started to achieve an increased level of trust and transparency in putting their data into blockchain systems.
In fact, we showcased a real-world example of this in 2017 through our Happiness Index on Blockchain, which we developed in partnership with Avanza Solutions in the UAE. By applying blockchain, data analytics and artificial intelligence on different data profiles and sources, the Happiness Index is a globally unique solution that allows large organisations to measure and manage sentiment for every single one of their customers, as it happens. For example, a tourism dependent city competing on a global scale can efficiently tap into service satisfaction data, social media posts, and other indications of citizen happiness in order to reward and expand on its most successful offerings.
What developments has Avaya made this year that you’re most proud of?
Today Avaya is coming back stronger than ever. We had a challenging start to 2017 after filing for Chapter 11 at the turn of the year, but Avaya is now exiting within a very short timeframe. We have transformed our business model, removed barriers to stronger customer relationships, and embraced technologies essential to future growth. Even more important, we can proudly say we have not lost a single customer throughout our journey. We’re thankful for the elevated level of confidence and support provided by our partners, employees and longstanding customers. It is a testament to the importance of relationships. If we don’t get those relationships right, the technology is meaningless.
What tech developments do you predict emerging in 2018?
The cloud and the as-a-service market is increasingly taking a front seat among IT decision-makers. On-premise communications solutions have started to change towards more data and outcome centric solutions, while cloud-based unified communications are growing 20% year-on-year globally, due to simplification of delivery, user adoption and business models. Contact-centre-as-a-service offerings are also reaching maturity and growth in sector should accelerate in 2018
Moreover, we believe in the power of establishing vertical specialisation to capture relevance. After all, it is one thing to apply technology horizontally, but it’s much more powerful when you can address the unique business challenges faced by players in each vertical. We are working with our own channel partners to empower them as they go after customers in high-value verticals, with packaged solutions that are proven business-ready.
In 2018, we will also be centered on speeding the development and application of AI technologies in contact centres and unified communications. AI offers significant opportunities to address many of the complexities and issues faced by companies in delivering an optimal customer experience. For example, it can enable companies to capture and utilise real-time customer sentiment to defuse or re-position situations that could lead to customer dissatisfaction. AI can also help businesses and governments instantly organise vast amounts of available data input using predictive analytics to deliver optimal information in real time, where it can help impact an ongoing customer interaction.
What will Avaya’s focus be for 2018?
Avaya is creating a new growth story. Today we act very much like a start-up, focused on growth and execution, but with unique differentiators such as a large customer base, technology leadership and a strong vertical presence.
In 2018, we are simplifying our organisational structure with the goal of remaining a customer-driven company – and making it easier for customers and partners to do business with us. As one example, Avaya is giving customers and partners the same capabilities our R&D team has and the complete freedom to define and build their own user experience.
The year ahead will be built on both technology and relationships. We have already started to re-engineer our core platforms, making it faster and simpler to adopt new functionalities and integrate new technologies. We will also take a leadership position to deliver to customers and partners simpler, more cost-efficient implementation of our roadmaps.
All of this will be underscored by a commitment to speed to market, simplicity in doing business and excellence in execution.