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Avaya simplifies contact center line, inks Zoom partnership

Zoom to work natively in Avaya hardware-software work collaboration environments; Avaya revamps contact center lineup to reflect changing CX landscape.

As Avaya makes its way back from the financial brink, the company continues to modernize its cloud and on-premises offerings.

At this week's Enterprise Connect conference in Orlando, Avaya revamped its contact center line. It also announced a workplace collaboration technology partnership with Zoom.

This continues its strategy of opening its hardware and software communications platforms to more third-party vendors and to open up existing customers' Avaya infrastructure to both on-premises and cloud services.

Avaya renamed several contact center products: Avaya Call Center Elite is now Avaya Experience Platform On-Prem; Avaya Enterprise Cloud is now Avaya Experience Platform Private Cloud; and Avaya Experience Platform CCaaS, or contact center as a service, is now Avaya Experience Platform Public Cloud.

Many contact centers and offices still rely on equipment and on-premises -- or hybrid cloud and on-premises -- IT infrastructure, Avaya CEO Alan Masarek said. Many of the new customers Avaya has won since it emerged from bankruptcy last year have been midmarket and on public cloud infrastructure.

Yet Avaya retains a sizeable customer base of large enterprises. Masarek said those represent many on-premises installations, which are migrating to the cloud, albeit much slower than expected. Avaya's strategy is to support both cloud and on-premises customers without forcing the latter to rip and replace their current IT infrastructure.

"Three years ago, the conversational shorthand was '[on-premises] bad, cloud good,'" Masarek said. "That is just not the case, particularly when you think of the gigantic institutions, where -- because of data, data privacy or sovereignty, regulated industries like hospitals, or they're in a geography [with regulatory] concerns -- you are increasingly seeing a hybrid solution."

Zoom integration: Beyond the usual APIs

On the collaboration side, Avaya had previously integrated with other videoconferencing tools such as Zoom, Teams and Webex through APIs. In the coming months, Zoom Workplace -- which comprises video meetings, Team Chat, Scheduler, Whiteboard and digital workspaces -- will run natively inside Avaya's Communications and Collaboration suite. Avaya users will also get access to the Zoom AI Companion generative AI assistant.

In the long run, management wants people in the office more than people are going to be able to resist going in. But it's going to be a longer and slower process than we thought.
Max BallAnalyst, Forrester Research

On-premises communications and collaboration platforms are still with us, Forrester Research analyst Max Ball said, because many companies' leaders want to cajole workers back into the office. That is one of the reasons cloud migrations are progressing slower than many industry observers would have thought a few years ago.

"We're still in a transition," Ball said. "In the long run, management wants people in the office more than people are going to be able to resist going in. But it's going to be a longer and slower process than we thought. By now, I would have thought we'd be three-quarters of the way back to the office or something like that. It's nowhere near that."

Avaya will bring generative AI to the contact center tailored to specific use cases, Masarek said. He sees the rise of GenAI over the last year and a half as a "great leveler" of competition, as contact center tech vendors are all adding similar features, such as call summaries and knowledge base search as well as summaries to help agents answer questions live on calls. This moment gives Avaya a chance to make its comeback by bringing a new set of its own competitive GenAI features in its modernized cloud and hybrid environments.

"I can't fix the past, in which some of my competitors were developing their cloud alternatives years before I was. It is what it is," Masarek said. "But what's happened is that everyone is using AI. It's disrupting the CX market massively, and it's an incredible opportunity."

Don Fluckinger is a senior news writer for TechTarget Editorial. He covers customer experience, digital experience management and end-user computing. Got a tip? Email him.

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