Last week, Cavell attended the Avaya Journeys event at Frameless in London. For those who are unfamiliar, the venue is an art gallery-style location with rooms filled with projectors that can put full art pieces on every wall to create an immersive live experience. Using this for a conference was a great decision; rather than awkward tables and small banners, every company in the showroom had a giant digital banner with embedded video playing behind them.
In many ways, it was fitting to host this event in such a cutting-edge digital space since the resounding message from Avaya during the event was of the need for innovation. Like many in the industry, I was surprised to hear this message from Avaya, who have been self-admittedly slow to innovate and resistant to change in the past. However, as they discussed during the event, the bankruptcy of the last few years has been a wake-up call that changes have to happen, and more cloud and innovation are required.
Now we have a clear message from Avaya: they have accepted the need for innovation and launched their AXP platform to bring cloud services to their existing install base. However, from Avaya’s perspective, this discussion has a very large caveat: the push to the cloud is happening too fast for many of their larger customers.
The proposition presented at Journeys is this: Yes, we accept that our customers want AI, Cloud, and all the new shiny technologies that the industry is developing, but they do not want to abandon their physical installations, and they do not trust the new solutions implicitly. Avaya says what its customers desire is “Innovation, without disruption”.
Smaller companies are happy with disruption; many are already moving or have moved to the cloud. Avaya also said that many of its newer customers were smaller companies investing in cloud or smaller scale physical services, but it sees its future in securing and upselling to its large base who are keen for innovation but cannot risk the disruption of a ‘rip and replace’ strategy.
Many examples were given of large companies with 10,000 – 20,000 seats and strict regulatory requirements that could not easily shift to new cloud-based contact centre technologies, as these often require a ‘rip and replace’ of their current system. The following issues were cited as common reasons:
- Strict needs for data protection and specific data storage requirements (e.g. in-country storage)
- Large existing hardware deployments that cost a lot to install, and the cost of moving to the cloud is too much
- Large amounts of learned organisational behaviour and policies that would have to be accounted for in a digital transformation
- A sensitive service that cannot risk an outage during a transformation
- Cloud proposition is good, and cloud-enabled services are desired, but not worth the pain of transformation
In an industry where the strength of the cloud has been touted as the way of the future, and AI is on the tongues of every marketing executive at every company of any size, we must ask if we believe Avaya. Has the cloud transition been happening too fast for many large companies? Is there an appetite for a slower transition?
After listening to Avaya’s message and hearing their statements about how much of their customer base has been maintained through the last few rough years, Cavell agrees. If these customers had been able to move to a cloud solution rapidly, it is likely that more of them would have done so in the last four years. It is, therefore, also likely that many of those companies will still be locked into Avaya, for better or worse, for the next few years. Though they do have options here, by embracing Avaya’s new ‘Choose your Journey’ message, they can stay on premise, move completely to the cloud or begin their journey to cloud using Avaya Enterprise Cloud which allows them to bring their o premise environments in to dedicated cloud instances, without needing to share resources in a multi-tenant environment, or the disruption of complete change to a new system.
Cavell still believes that the Cloud is the future; it’s too flexible and too powerful, and the rise of AI brings with it too many tools to ignore. However, digital transformations have been failing, with many large examples making their way into the news in the past few years.
If these companies are afraid of digital transformation but want cloud services, then Avaya has a window to transition them to the cloud safely, slowly and non-disruptively. If they succeed, they retain these customers and maintain their industry-leading market share; if they fail, they will eventually need to jump to the cloud to keep up with the expected services.
We cannot forget the backdrop of innovation that is happening across the world, and as customers and citizens see flexible cloud services in their own lives, the demands, even in the most regulatory-focused industries, will be for innovation. So, in that regard, the clock is set for Avaya: secure your base, bring in cloud innovation in a safe way but at a tempo that satisfies these customers, and secure your future. Will it happen? Let’s watch and see.