Around 45 per cent of our global R&D comes from India, says Yaser Alzubaidi of Avaya International

Home to Avaya's second largest R&D centre in the world, India is a promising market for the company's overall business. In an interaction with Express Computer, Yaser Alzubaidi, Digital Engagement Solutions Leader, Avaya International (EMEA & APAC), speaks about Avaya's innovations, business opportunities and more

Please provide a brief about global customer trends in this era of digital transformation
Digital transformation is a huge area and, while customers are moving to digital transformation, they realise the need to focus more on specific initiatives. We have been constantly learning from the market in order to serve our customers and partners better. As one of the primary drivers for digital transformation, customers are focusing on improving productivity and efficiency, followed closely by customer experience management. In the area of digital transformation, we conducted a survey in 15 companies recently, which was participated by over 750 executives, decision makers and influencers. We also surveyed and interviewed more than 600 consumers who interact with businesses through front channels.

Customer experience is also a wide domain. Within customer experience, today we see that customers have moved from ‘saying’ to ‘doing’. They have realised the importance of customer experience as a differentiator. The airline industry, for example, uses the same airplanes from Boeing or Airbus, at the same aiports. However, it’s the service and experience that set a differentiation. Customer experience, as a differentiator for services, is getting more and more attention by businesses. But that is not enough, as it is linked with the primary objective of increased productivity – business is about both, front and back office. You order food in the restaurant, but the quality of food depends on the kitchen. Both have to work seamlessly to deliver business results.

In order to enhance digital experience for customers, what are the key technologies that Avaya is currently betting big on?
At Avaya, we enable customers first and foremost with a solid unified open platform which is the core for customers to extend and integrate technologies such as AI, blockchain or IoT. We provide an open platform API that allows to do this. We also allow them to expand and innovate in both the areas – in their own ways and pace. For our huge install base across the globe, we ensure investment protections. Customers can keep what they have, and use our open API and integrate with new technologies.

In the customer experience domain, if the customer today is running a voice-only control centre, we can add a layer of omni-channel and digital channel on top. If customers want to have their own chatbots, we can integrate our technology with chatbots at any point of time and provide connectivity. An important aspect of this platform is its unified nature, for both front and back office. It also allows businesses to automate workflows, because in today’s world, businesses need to be proactive.

Under a newer regulation in Europe, every car after April 2018 must have a chip. In case of accident, the car will make a call and send all the data to the call centre. Here, we enable those contact centres to capture the data and take the right decision. This can be lifesaving and in many cases, and could save emergency response time by 40-50 per cent. All the data, including location, state of the car, passenger, etc enables emergency services.

There is an increased focus on building next generation voice based solutions. What kind of R&D efforts are being put to develop these solutions?
Voice is still the king, but it is changing. Today, you can connect through voice or video from any channel or device. Today, various solutions allow the customers and agents to communicate and collaborate using digital software. The customer can now initiate a voice call from any device or channel which is RTC ready or digital ready.

Voice is transforming and most importantly, we are bringing AI to voice. With the acquisition of a large BPO provider, Spoken, we also have an element of real-time speech analytics and transcription. You can also do sentiment analysis, tag specific keywords and take actions. With the use of AI, voice-bots is another area of effort for us.

We are also introducing a new set of devices, which includes the recently launched Avaya Vantage – the only open device in the industry today. It supports rich features, can integrate and customise applications for almost any vertical. Customers can integrate this device with any other application in the market; whether it is on premise or on cloud. We also provide API for customers to build their own solutions.

India’s public sector is also witnessing significant digital push. How is Avaya geared up to cater to this market?
India is a large geography and the government is trying to bring technologies to rural areas. The only way to achieve this is mobility – mobile applications and internet applications. This is where Avaya plays an important role in building communications within those applications. India houses our second largest R&D centre in the world; Avaya is actively working on R&D and sales to services support for customers. R&D works hand-in-hand with the sales, so most of the initiatives in India, including large projects such as Hackathon, are basically supported by R&D.

Around 45 per cent of our global R&D comes from India. We have been investing in India over the years and as we move into new solutions, expand our ecosystem and build more alliances, there would definitely be a need to grow in India. This is one of the few countries in the region which is rich in human skills.

What kind of efforts are being put in up-skilling and re-skilling of your partner ecosystem?
Aligning with emerging technologies, we have launched a program called ‘AI Connect’ which allows companies worldwide to integrate their solutions with Avaya. Part of this program is designed to onboard partners on our ecosystem. We have no intention to be a blockchain company or an IT company. We integrate with IoT devices in hotels, we integrate with IoT devices in next- gen cars and IoT devices in hospitals. So we provide communication and enable processes. We will continue to expand our solution of open API, allowing developers in India and globally to collaborate and create their solutions on our open platforms.

What is your message to your partners?
One of our key expectations is to interact and listen to our customers. Avaya is building its open API platform that allows our customers to evolve and elevate to the next level, and execute their digital transformation strategies. This is something that we can’t do on our own; we do it with our partners and customers. I want them to be assured that Avaya is betting big on technologies – AI, analytics, IoT. We are also experimenting on use cases of blockchain.

Avayadigital transformationR&DUnified CommunicationYaser Alzubaidi
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