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Avaya Scales for Small Businesses
Pundits and company executives believe that the new IP Office 5 expands functionality while improving simplicity -- two factors deemed prerequisites for success in this sector.
Posted Oct 3, 2009
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Small and midsize businesses (SMBs) continually fight for solutions made specifically for their needs. First, they were subjected to stripped-down, enterprise-sized solutions. Many vendors have moved past that with specific SMB offerings. The next step, though, is to deliver the same level of scale and resiliency commonplace among enterprise technology offerings today.

Heeding this need, Avaya looks to bringsimplicity yet enterprise-size functionality with its latest release of its SMB solution, IP Office 5. "We believe we can help small businesses differentiate themselves with customer service," says Mark Massingham, senior manager of Avaya's small and medium enterprise communications division. "If they can provide good customer service, they've got a leg up out there."

Customer service, though, is just one of three pillars Massingham talks about when considering Avaya's SMB go-to-market strategy. The other two are simplicity and user experience. "We must make it easy for small businesses to understand what they're buying," he says. "You can't march in and ask, ‘Would you like a full multimedia contact center?' The applications must also be easy to understand and to use, which cuts down on training, deployment, and reduces the whole total cost of ownership."

The first step toward delivering simplicity is in how IP Office 5 is offered. Now, there are six separate role-based solutions:

  • customer service agent;
  • mobile worker;
  • power user;
  • receptionist;
  • supervisor; and
  • tele-worker.

"By doing this, we've made it much simpler for business partners to sell and our end users to understand," Massingham continues. "We can bundle these separate applications together for businesses in a way that makes sense for each organization."

In an attempt to shore up SMBs with multiple sites, IP Office 5 can now handle 32 locations, double the number before. Users can utilize servers at alternate locales to keep their Internet Protocol communications network operating if there happens to be an outage. "The resiliency piece is important for us," Massingham says. "You're not paying for extra hardware. The resiliency is built in, and it was important for us to address business continuity in this release."

Looking to help SMBs deliver quality customer service as well, IP Office 5 represents the introduction of Customer Call Reporter, an application tracking progress and agent productivity, while using alarms to help administrators react to issues in real-time. Massingham defines this as "management by exception," since thresholds can be set for inducing alarms by line of business users, as well as controlling which statistics and other metrics agents can see on their screens. While businesses of any size can use it, Massingham says this is geared toward companies with less than 30 agents in businesses with up to 250 users, but could scale higher if necessary.  

Deepinder Sahni, senior vice president at AMI Partners, a research firm focusing on SMBs, explains IP Office 5 delivers on the key market needs facing this segment everyday: simplicity, resiliency, and advanced functionality. "Small and medium-sized businesses require solutions that are easy to understand and use," he points out. "With [this release], Avaya effectively incorporated simplicity into the way communications is architected, delivered, and communicated. The new role-based solutions improve how business partners meet customer needs, which enhanced capabilities like expanded conferencing are especially compelling."

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