Communications services: Challenging the status quo
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Post on 20-Jun-2015
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DESCRIPTIONWhat does the future hold for support and management of communications environments? Its a question we often hear at Avaya, from our clients, our business partners, analysts and the media. They want to understand how the rapid introduction of new technologies, the relentless demand for communications availability and reliability, and the constant pressure to do more with less will shape the communications support and management world in the months and years ahead.
<ul><li> 1. What does the future hold for support and management of communications environments? Its a question we often hear at Avaya, from our clients, our business partners, analysts and the media. They want to understand how the rapid introduction of new technologies, the relentless demand for communications availability and reliability, and the constant pressure to do more with less will shape the communications support and management world in the months and years ahead. To get a fresh, informed view of the services landscape, we turned to Michael Runda, Avaya senior vice president and president of Avaya Client Services. Here, Mike offers his thoughts on the forces at play in the marketplace for support and management of communications environments, the types of services that businesses will need and expect, and the capabilities that will distinguish world-class services organizations. Mike, what market dynamics and business needs will shape world-class communications support and management going forward? First, ongoing technology development will continue to provide organiza- tions and individuals with new, more powerful communications capabilities. But the complexity that accompanies these innovations is making it harder for IT leaders to keep up. Finding people who have the talent and training to manage these new environments is a growing challenge. And IT budgets are likely to remain tight amid ongoing economic pressures, even as users demand the latest and greatest capabilities. As a result, any deployment of new technology will include aggressive goals for return on investment, including the mitigations of ongoing support and management expenses, including both hard and soft costs. avaya.com | 1 Communications services: Challenging the status quo A vision for the future, a path to get there Any deployment of new technology will include aggressive goals for return on investment, including the mitigations of ongoing support and management expenses, including both hard and soft costs. </li></ul><p> 2. Another major factor is the growing user demand for features and functions that were barely imaginable just months ago. A prime example of this is the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend. Employees in organizations of all sizes are taking their own tablets and smartphones into the workplace and using them to collaborate and handle business matters. This presents both opportunities and challenges for organizations. On the plus side, like social media, BYOD can contribute to creating a highly collaborative environment, involving both employees and customers. At the same time, you need to wrap these new devices into your overall support and management structure in a way that minimizes the effects of the added complexity and keeps the electronic environment safe and secure from intrusions, hacks and unauthorized information access. Also influencing the communications management environment is the rapid adoption of video. High-definition video communications with colleagues and customers is no longer expensive, bandwidth-intensive, and only found in conference rooms. Instead its right there on our smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops. Video demand is soaring as people realize the potential to communicate more fully by sharing facial expressions, body language and other nuances. And instead of gathering people physically, personal devices allow it to happen virtually, which leads to greater participation. Also, IT doesnt need to get involved, and the business enjoys substantial savings in time, travel and cost. Finally, the growing complexity of communications technology increases the need for advanced diagnostics. Technology stacks are getting thicker and more often include elements from different suppliers. Organizations will need better diagnostic tools and techniques to stay up and running and respond to outages quickly in these multivendor environments. Technology stacks are getting thicker and more often include elements from different suppliers. Organizations will need better diagnostic tools and techniques to stay up and running and respond to outages quickly in these multivendor environments. avaya.com | 2 3. Given these dynamics, what types of support and management capabilities will businesses look for from service providers? If you think about trends described abovegrowing complexity, increasing budget constraints, BYOD, the emergence of video, and the need for faster problem diagnosis and resolutionthe first line of defense from a communications support and management perspective is a companys IT organization. Of course, those organizations have varying types of skills and expertise. So theyre trying to figure out how to meet the growing needs of the business by leveraging their strengths and bridging skill gaps in areas of weakness. This dynamic is driving their needs and expectations for support and managementthey want to buy only what they need. Thats one reason we keep evangelizing for the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) standard. An IT organizations capabilities may vary by application or by segments such as communications, core infrastructure and business systems. The end-to-end service definitions in ITIL provide an instruction manual that can be applied to all of these. Based on their identified needs, businesses will then decide what type of communications support and management services they require. Can they get by with just core maintenance services, calling in help when something is broken and needs to be fixed? Do they enter into a broader support agreement in which a vendor plays a more proactive role in infrastructure support, maintenance and upgrades? Or do they opt for a managed services arrangement, turning over part or all of their communications infrastructure to a service provider? This last approach is rapidly gaining traction as organizations recognize the risks of investing in infrastructure to stay current in the technology arms race. Rather than incur these capital expenses and continue to battle the expanding skills gap, more organizations are shifting to an operating expense model and turning the whole process over to a provider that can absorb the costs of technology upgrades and maintain the skills needed for more complex communications environments. A key factor influencing client decisions will be multivendor environments. With devices, equipment and services coming from several sourcesthink of BYOD and video as rapidly emerging examplesit will be increasingly Managed services are rapidly gaining traction. Rather than incur these capital expenses and continue to battle the expanding skills gap, more organizations are shifting to an operating expense model and turning the whole process over to a provider that can absorb the costs of technology upgrades and maintain the skills needed for more complex communications environments. avaya.com | 3 4. important, and challenging, that clients have a single point of contact for problem diagnosis and resolution. Service providers will need either to develop the ability to work across platforms and vendors or to cede the role to someone else. Another client requirement isnt new, but the refrain is growing stronger: Know me. Few things are more frustrating for clients needing support than having to repeatedly describe a problem to different people. Instead, they want a provider to understand their environment, know what they have installed, recall the last questions they asked, and be ready to make the upgrades they want in the future. Along with understanding their environment better, customers want service providers to deliver faster, more accurate problem diagnosis and resolution. As technologies become more complex, problems are more likely to be system-wide rather than in a single component. They can emerge from the network, an application, an end user or a configuration fileand from any vendors product. Because of this, a product specialist often cant resolve a problem alone, but may also need the involvement of system architects and other specialists who have application or multivendor knowledge and capabilities. In this demanding environment, what will distinguish great support and management services from the merely good? First, leading service providers will understand the dynamics of the marketplacegrowing complexity, multivendor environments, the emergence of BYOD and mobility, and the other trends noted earlier and align their services accordingly. A prominent example of this is multivendor environments. Almost every enterprise client we encounter has a complex multivendor environment, with equipment of all ages and often from different manufacturers. A great managed services provider will offer solutions with service level agreements covering the entire communications environment. In our experience, not many can do this. Few things are more frustrating for clients needing support than having to repeatedly describe a problem to different people. Instead, they want a provider to understand their environment, know what they have installed, recall the last questions they asked, and be ready to make the upgrades they want in the future. avaya.com | 4 5. Leaders will also earn the confidence of their clients. Whether they provide maintenance, deliver support services or assume managed services responsibilities, service leaders will become trusted advisors that stay engaged and serve as an extension of their clients IT organizations and business units. Great support and management services will also mean a portfolio of offers spanning the entire continuum of service issues that clients face today and in the futureissues stemming from the trends discussed here. What will catapult service providers into the lead will be the ability to help customers understand where they are on that continuum and the flexibility to deliver the most appropriate solutions for their problems. A useful analogy for this is a hospital. A person who comes into the emergency room complaining of chest pains may have had a heart attack, or perhaps not. Instead of immediately calling in a heart surgeon, the hospital staff immediately performs advanced diagnostic workups to pinpoint the source of the chest pain and quickly and effectively proceeds to the treatment that provides the best possible outcome for the patient. The same approach applies in a communications support and management environment. When a problem arises, a service provider with advanced capabilities and clear visibility into the client environment can rapidly run a series of diagnostic checks, which may reveal that the problem isnt with an application as suspected, but was triggered by the network. And, by the way, the diagnostics may reveal other hidden issues that need to be resolved, as well. The single-point-of-contact approach is critical to making this possible. But that capability requires work, investment and relationships. The process is complex and requires upfront investment to troubleshoot problems in different environments. A service provider has to be willing to reach out to other vendors and establish rapport with them. Then, when necessary, a service representative can assemble, or swarm, a team of specialists to quickly assess a problem and suggest a resolution. This approach can pay off for providers and clients alike, as clients seek to make support and management activities an operating expense instead of a capital expense. And, not only do clients bypass the complexity and problems, they have access to new technologies as they become available. Great support and management services will also mean a portfolio of offers spanning the entire continuum of service issues. What will catapult service providers into the lead will be the ability to help customers understand where they are on that continuum and the flexibility to deliver the most appropriate solutions for their problems. avaya.com | 5 6. Another vital trait of leading providers will be customer intimacythe ability, when a client says know me, to respond yes we do. If we know the client well enough, support becomes more consultative. For example, we should know enough about a clients environment through automation and other advanced systems to uncover a potential issue and fix it without ever involving the client. But because of that predictive capability, we can recommend adding services that will prevent such problems from recurring, improve efficiency and boost performance. Video can also play a key role in service quality and client relationships. It can strengthen customer ties by helping clients and the service provider get to know one another better. And it can be used to resolve issues, an especially valuable capability for small or midsized business facing support issues. For example, on-site cameras can be used to diagnose physical hardware issues without a technician needing to be dispatched to the site. One of the biggest frustrations clients encounter is hearing that we knew about that problem and had the answer. The customer may rightly ask, Then why did I have to experience it? Our support vision is to have humans work on only new problems; let automation and advanced systems resolve existing problems when they occur. Already, through a new Avaya program, when a customer contacts a service agent through any channel, the agent first looks at our knowledge base to see if theres an answer to the clients question. This process eliminates 80 percent of the direct labor required to address many client issues. We also see the growing use of avatars to help clients deal with support issues. Leveraging search technology and artificial intelligence, avatars can assist clients in finding known solutions to problems. Clients can then rank the solutions, service agents can review them, and the best ones can be detailed in articles made available to other clients. The result is a feedback loop that enables agents to get knowledge out rapidly in a format thats accessible and usable by a client base. This makes clients happy and fosters pride among the agents generating the solutions. Avatars can also be used to initiate collaborative problem solving, with live experts brought in as needed. Contextual support, pulling in all data relevant to a customers problem, is a key to resolving issues rapidly. Our support vision is to have humans work on only new problems; let automation and advanced systems resolve existing problems when they occur. avaya.com | 6 7. avaya.com | 7 A global leader in communications support and management services Avaya has long been in the forefront of developing, deploying and, importantly, supporting communications systems. We have contributed to the emergence of new technologies, including the recent, explosive growth of mobile and collaborative solutions, and we have become the market leader in communications managed services,1 offering comprehensive commun...</p>
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