The telephony vendor releases a sophisticated solution for the retail space, highlighting a trend in vertical-based communications solutions, according to one analyst.
Posted Jan 15, 2007
Avaya, a provider of Internet protocol telephony systems, announced today that it will be tailoring its fit for the retail industry. With the new solution, Avaya Integrated Management for IP Office, the company extends its retail focus to help growing chains reduce costs while improving customer service. As part of the release, Avaya has come out with separate products for both very large and medium-sized retail chains. The release marks one step in Avaya's product plan to develop solutions specifically targeted for individual industries.
Avaya has a history of retail specific solutions; however, according to the company, a recent call for telephony adoption demands a higher level of technical sophistication. "Retail vendors are trying to use technology now to differentiate amongst themselves," says Krithi Rao, research analyst with Frost and Sullivan. A study from Forrester Research found retail and wholesale trade to be the vertical with the highest level of IP telephony adoption across all enterprises. John Vincent, director of retail industry marketing for Avaya, says, "Some of the newer chains like WalMart and Home Depot have made the adoption of technology an exciting thing." Vincent cites the recent "wide acceptance of technology" in retail as a major driver behind this release.
Avaya Integrated Management for IP Office enables retailers with up to 2,500 locations to manage their voice and data systems across their stores' networks. The primary feature of the solution is the ability to manage and upgrade Avaya IP Office systems for all of a retailer's locations simultaneously rather than doing so by dialing into each one individually. This allows companies to spend less time making changes, such as new greetings. It also enables a company to keep its IT staff to a minimum even in the face of expansion, because with the Avaya solution communication changes for 600 or 800 stores take an equal amount of manpower. Avaya is also releasing the same product in a small office edition designed for up to 28 users.
This release follows Avaya's plan to develop more vertical telephony solutions. The company currently focuses on the retail, government and education, financial services, and healthcare industries, but Vincent says that it plans on looking to expand this focus. "In the past you could literally market a horizontal solution for anyone with a lot of branches." Now, he says that there is a high demand for specialization.
Rao says that specialization marks an overarching trend across telephony vendors to set themselves apart in a highly competitive market. "Most companies in the market have realized they can squeeze as much revenue as possible by going horizontal," she says. "The best way they can do it is creating value add services on top of a basic solution." Avaya is following this pattern by building vertical specific solutions out of a previously existing product. Rao says that although specialized solutions can be beneficial to companies, they offer nothing new. "This is all technology they have had before, but now they are packaging it together."
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