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Make Calling as Easy as Email

My office is wherever I setup my laptop, and many times I skip the laptop and depend solely on my mobile phone. This video shows how Avaya mobility solutions make it easy to keep your mobile workforce engaged.

Make Calling As Easy as Email from Steve Forcum on Vimeo.



In the movie Iron Man, Tony Stark struggled against his former friend and business partner, Obadiah Stain, as the Iron Monger, to save the world from a hostile force equipped with his armor. At the end of the film, Nick Fury visited Tony and informed him of “the Avengers Initiative.” Over the course of multiple films, Nick Fury’s organization, S.H.I.E.L.D, began assembling a collection of super heroes with specific talents.

Individually these super heroes could fight their own battles, against enemies who their skill set aligned with*. Iron Man defeated Iron Monger, who tried to replicate his armor for evil purposes. Captain America fought the Red Skull, who like Steve Rogers was enhanced with the Super Soldier serum. Thor learned humility from Earth, and was rewarded with renewed access to Mjolnir to defeat Asgardian technology. Bruce Banner, as the Hulk, was able to defeat the Abomination, who also was given super strength from Gamma radiation.

Each hero defeated an enemy whose power matched their own. Nick Fury envisioned a time when an enemy would be too strong, or incompatible for one superhero’s powers. To solve this challenge, the strengths of multiple heroes would be required. In the movie the Avengers, we learned how a team of superheroes with specific skills could come together and blend those powers to beat an undefeatable enemy from the far reaches of the universe.

In the Avaya universe, we’ve had a string of superhero stories. Let me introduce you to them.

Scopia Desktop, a superhero video conferencing application whose superpower is the ability to instantly teleport teammates, suppliers and customers to a face to face meeting. Scopia Desktop defeated its hated rival, Budget Buster who’s evil powers made expense budgets explode.

Avaya Aura Conferencing, with it’s super strength to support hundreds of people talking and collaborating on documents with a single bridge was legendary. With that kind of power, it’s no wonder the nefarious TimeWaster couldn’t keep slowing down productivity and decision making.

When Captain Complexity and the Inbox Attachment Assassins, whose evil led to different apps and inboxes stuffed to the gills with shared files. The dynamic duo of Avaya Communicator, whose simple and consistent user interface made communicating easy, and its trusty sidekick Avaya MutliMedia Messaging, who’s Workstream collaboration capability fought off this threat to make team communications easy while reducing the amount of confusing emails sent among team members.

The newest superhero on the team, Esna Communicator had the most amazing superpower of all…invisibility. Hiding in plain sight in the web browser, Esna Communicator was able to stop its fierce rival Doctor Client Configurator, by embedding communications that work automatically into the Internet Browser.


While these superhero applications fought specific challenges to getting work done, the time has come for our heroes to assemble. More than just a new name for our team of superhero apps, Avaya Equinox represents the merger of our apps where each strength is blended to produce a seamless user experience that solves the challenges your business faces.

In today’s post, I’ll touch on three areas where Equinox is different than anything you’ve seen from Avaya.

A Focus on the User

At it’s core, Avaya Equinox is an application which provides simplicity and consistency. It doesn’t matter whether you use an iPad, a Samsung GS7, a new MacBook Pro, or the new Avaya Vantage desktop device**, Equinox looks, feels and functions the same, which means less user training and faster adoption. This means lower travel and global roaming expenses, increased speed in decision making, and a more successful workforce.

A New Way to Work

In today’s smartphone equipped world, most conversations start silently. Messaging has overtaken voice as the starting point for almost all communications. Avaya Equinox was built to support this change.

Equinox Messaging delivers simple Instant Messaging and Presence (IM&P) between users. Chats can be promoted to a voice or video call with a single click. This means if you are driving, and text messaging isn’t appropriate, one click allows you to continue the conversation. There isn’t much magic there, most IM&P solutions can do this. Equinox Messaging really stands out for team based messaging.

Create a new chat room for your team to discuss a project. Invite additional members as necessary. Instead of clogging up everyone’s inbox with endless emails and attachments, upload files associated with the project to the chat room. This means if you need to reference these files again, they’re right at your fingertips in the project chat room, synchronized to all of your devices. If one member of the team can’t chat, one click builds a voice and video conference for all team members.

Conferencing Made Easy

Equinox Conferencing dramatically reduces travel costs with it’s easy to use audio & video conferencing. With Equinox Conferencing, your users can build a conference call on demand, or send a meeting invitation to participants. With a single click, participants can join using their Equinox enabled mobile phones, tablets, computers, or Avaya Vantage desktop device. If some users gather in a video enabled conference room, they simply dial the extension number for the Equinox Conference. External users can join using just their web browser with the Equinox Portal, powered by WebRTC.

Once the team is together, members can share documents, applications or a full computer desktop. This instant access to relevant information is the key towards faster decision making, improved performance, and increased customer service scores.

One Last Thing

Avaya Equinox is a product that has the power to rapidly and dramatically lower travel & global roaming expenses. Equinox brings teams together with the content that matters, improving decision making speed. Equinox also dramatically lowers the amount of email employees must deal with on a daily basis, improving employee engagement. All of these benefits can be potentially realized without additional software licensing costs.

Avaya Equinox is included with your Avaya Aura core & power user license bundles! Simply setup Equinox applications in your data center, on virtual or physical servers, and reap the benefits of this powerful solution.

Want to learn more? Contact your Avaya Representative or leave me a comment below.


* There’s an interesting debate in the comic world that Marvel’s Achilles Heel is the lack of a strong and diverse set of villains. The villain each super hero fights against generally has super powers that mirrors the hero’s power. In DC terms, Batman is as popular as he is due in no small part to his diverse set of villains. 

** It’s really hard to describe the Vantage endpoint. Is it a phone, because it makes great phone calls with it’s DECT wireless handset? Is it a tablet, because it’s got a billboard sized screen, runs on Android, and has Equinox embedded into it? Is it a video conferencing unit, since you can jump into a video call with a single click? The answer is D, all of the above.  If you haven’t seen one yet, be sure to check them out here.

Teach your business software new skills

If you’ve ever seen the Iron Man movies you’ve met JARVIS, Tony Stark’s Artificial Intelligence, who’s always present to control the smart home, power Tony’s armor, or provide a sarcastic comment. From the moment I walked out of the movie theater years ago, I wanted to bring JARVIS to my home.

Fast forward eight years, and that wish has begun to come true. Leading in this space is Amazon, with their Echo line of products which bring their Artificial Intelligence (AI) solution, Alexa, to your home. You can ask Alexa for information, such as “what’s the weather in Seattle?”, or “What’s my commute?”, or “What’s on my calendar today?”. You can also ask Alexa to help with tasks such as “re-order Paper Towels”, “Set a Timer for 20 minutes”, or “Play music”.

If Artificial Intelligence could only tell you the time, or set a timer, it isn’t what I would call intelligent. Amazon agreed, and developed a Software Developer Kit (SDK) for Alexa. This toolkit for developers enabled Alexa to learn new “skills” such as ordering a pizza from Dominos, fetching the headlines from Huffington Post, or asking Automatic if you need more gas. These “skills” are integrations between two systems which delivers real value.

Now think about what Artificial Intelligence, and more specifically the “skills” you can teach it, could do for your business. Imagine the growth in customer loyalty, if Artificial Intelligence could react to a maintenance alert from a customer’s vehicle by conferencing in service technicians, ordering the necessary parts, and building a conference call with the customer to discuss the situation and schedule an appointment. What would the impact be to patient experience, if a change in health captured by monitoring equipment resulted in a video conference with the patient care team, with all relative records included in the conference?

Only Avaya can empower your business software to achieve these results. You can teach your existing communications solution new “skills” using Avaya Breeze, or leverage the power of the cloud with Zang, our Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS).

Want to learn more? Visit our website (click here) or contact your Avaya Business Partner.

Why does it take so long…

Maybe you’re a nerd like me.  I fell in love with Apple after watching Steve Jobs product announcements.  The Word-Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) keynote has become must see-TV*.  First Steve Jobs and now Tim Cook take the stage annually to tell everyone all of the new features and functionality coming to iPhones, iPads and Macs in the fall.

Once the magical date comes up on the calendar office traffic comes to a stand still.  WiFi networks slow to a crawl as everyone downloads and installs the updates**.  The next couple of hours are spent like a child with a new toy.  Learning how the new features work. Looking for the changes in the user experience.

On the other side of the spectrum is Android.  Much like Apple, Google hosts an annual developer conference, I/O.  And like Apple they show off the latest and greatest features being planned for the latest flavor of Android to be released in the fall.

This is where the similarities end.  Unlike Apple devices which tend to receive annual updates for at least 3-4 years, only select devices running Android receive the updates when Google releases them.  Within weeks of the software’s launch, Apple routinely sees the majority of their user base has updated.  On Android the user base is much more fragmented across multiple releases.

In fact as of today the majority of Android devices are using a version of Android which is 1-2 years old (source: Click Here)

There are many reasons for these delays.  While Apple maintains a direct to the consumer relationship.  Google works through Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) partners such as Samsung, LG, Motorola and others. Once Google releases the software, the various Android manufacturers must then customize it for their implementations, or skinned versions of the OS.  Once the manufacturers have completed their testing your carrier must test and customize the OS for any “value added” software they install***.

Is your infrastructure fragmented?

Would you compare your enterprise IT to Apple or Google?  Do you wonder why your business software seems like it hasn’t been updated in years?  Are you solving evolving business challenges with the latest features & functionality as soon as they are available?  Is your infrastructure at risk running years old software?

Much like the Android ecosystem, corporate IT groups are extremely fragmented.  The software & infrastructure used to run the business is often neglected.  The old adage “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” was applied as budgets were cut, staffing levels lowered and your poor IT group is left trying to keep the lights on.  In the mean time your competitors are potentially attracting more talent, providing better customer service and growing their business by leveraging technology innovation.

Rise of the Cloud

During the recent economic downturn many businesses looked to a new “technology” to solve this challenge.  And the vendors selling this “technology” called it the cloud.  The sales pitch went something like this:

“Instead of investing money to upgrade all of that legacy software, pay nothing up front.  Just a small per user fee per month.  Add users or subtract users as you need them.  Instant cost savings!”

I will not dispute any of the above is true.

Flag on the play

Awe come on Ref!  You have to be kidding me!  Hear me out!

I will readily admit this can sound weird coming from someone who has made a career managing, installing and then selling on premise solutions.

And I can already hear from some of you out there.  In copper you trust.  The cloud never goes down in price! And an on-premise solution eventually pays for itself!  And what about reliability?

CapEx vs. OpEx

Most on-premise solutions require a capital expense (CAPEX).  You buy the software, hardware & implementation services and then depreciate the cost over a time period (3-5 years).  Most cloud solutions require minimal if any capital expenditures.  Instead the bulk of the cost is a monthly subscriber fee per user, which is considered an operating expense (OPEX).

An on premise solution provider will tell you some version of this.  If you depreciate the cost of their proposal over 3 to 5 years, there will be a time when you save money compared to the ongoing costs of cloud.  And a pretty chart later certainly shows the cloud and on premise lines crossing.

Upon further review

In fact one of the main benefits of a cloud based solution is a lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).  All too often TCO is calculated on an incomplete picture.  On the internet there is a popular infographic that really paints this picture:

The crux of this argument really boils down not to the “technology” of cloud but instead how you consume the services. An on premise solution generally requires adjacent investments in hardware, software and training.  A cloud based proposal requires much less adjacent investment, leading to a lower cost of ownership.

Penny Wise and Pound Foolish?

So is cost savings the only reason your business should consider cloud?  Heck no!  The original story comparing how Apple and Google provide software updates is a fantastic analogy for this decision.  While the cloud can deliver cost savings the more compelling benefit for most businesses is the innovation which can be driven through the cloud.  As software vendors release new features, functions and patches these are available to your business shortly after launch.  Your business can leverage this innovation to squeeze costs out of the budgets, improve internal engagement and extend customer satisfaction through new technologies and channels.

Devouring a Whale

In the wildly popular television series House of Cards Frank Underwood is a schemer.  The past three seasons have seen Frank scheme his way from Majority Whip of the United States House of Representatives to the Vice Presidency and then becoming the President.  Starting with the opening scene of episode 1 there is a feeling that a broader picture is unfolding.  Passed over for the position of Secretary of State, Frank begins planning his revenge.  In one scene Frank is discussing strategy with his chief of staff, Doug Stamper.  He urges Doug to see the larger picture instead of the small challenge in front of him.

“That’s how you devour a whale, Doug.  One bite at a time.”

Evolving the infrastructure you have built your business on is akin to devouring a whale.  Do you try to consume it in one bite?

All clouds are not created equal

The cloud is not a technology.  As previously defined the cloud is a new delivery method and consumption model for technology.  Not every business is ready for every element of a cloud based solution.  And even if you are, where do you start?

These questions become even more confusing when you consider your options.  Some vendors offer only cloud based solutions, meaning you need to devour the whale in one bite.  This all or nothing approach can introduce risk to your business as you migrate to the cloud.  Other vendors offer cloud and on premise solutions, which sounds great in theory.  However many times the technology behind the cloud option is radically different than their on-premise solution. Meaning you sacrifice features based on the delivery mechanism.

The Avaya difference

At Avaya we believe in devouring the whale one bite at a time.  An orderly transition from an on-premise CAPEX based solution to a cloud based OPEX solution reduces risk to your business.  Behind Avaya cloud offers are the same award winning team & customer engagement solutions deployed at many customer sites today.  We can create a public, private or hybrid cloud solution around your business needs by asking three simple questions.

Where do the assets live?

Maybe your business is one which is risk adverse, like a bank.  You’re concerned with an emergency occurring at one of your branches.  The thought of the internet connection acting as a sole lifeline to emergency services keeps you up at night.

No problem.  Avaya Private Cloud Services can still migrate your core services to an off-site data center.  At the same time you can deploy a branch survivable gateway at these locations.  Providing peace of mind in the event of an emergency.

Who owns the assets?

Maybe your business is ready to move to a full OPEX model of consuming services.  Avaya Private Cloud Services can develop a model where you only pay for the users and services you consume on a monthly basis.  The benefits of an OPEX cloud.  The flexibility to deploy assets where needed to ensure business continuity.

Who manages the assets?

Instead of your limited IT resources focusing on non-revenue generating activities like system monitoring, management & maintenance these tasks can be assigned to Avaya Private Cloud Services.  Now your IT group can instead focus on how innovation can solve real challenges facing your business.  All with a lower TCO.

Interested in learning how Avaya can help your business migrate to the cloud?  Leave me a comment or reach out to your Avaya Business Partner today!

* Prior to Apple streaming these keynotes through AppleTV, I would be breathlessly reading blogs on launch day to hear what Steve announced.  I’d still watch the replay after mesmerized.  My children will never know the struggle…

** If this describes your wireless LAN on launch day, we need to talk.  The Avaya Wireless LAN allows you to manage this right at the antenna to ensure smooth sailing for your business applications while allowing (or denying) your employees the updates.

*** The scourge of Android as far as I’m concerned.  I remember the first Galaxy S.  The Verizon Wireless variant of the device actually REMOVED Google from the user experience and replaced it with Bing.  Add to that the fact that I can use Samsung Wallet on my TMobile Galaxy Note 5 but a peer using the same handset on Verizon Wireless cannot is inexcusable.  Now that OEMs are slowly minimizing or eliminating their skins, this is the major challenge facing the Android ecosystem today in my opinion.