To Avaya, the Customer Experience Is the Thing

The vendor unveils Oceana, an engagement platform designed to make it easier for businesses to monitor and manage all aspects of the customer journey.

Customer experience

Avaya is putting a focus on the issue of customer experience with the introduction of Oceana, which is designed to help enterprises more easily include customer needs and desires in their business plans.

Announced this week at the International Avaya Users Group (IAUG) Engage conference, Oceana is a customer engagement platform that makes it easier for users to improve the customer experience, which in turn can lead to greater customer loyalty, retention and repeat business, according to Avaya officials.

Oceana is a software-based solution built on Avaya's recently announced Breeze development environment that includes a simple drag-and-drop visual workflow capability that gives enterprises the ability to keep in touch with customers at all stage of their interactions. As enterprises continue to transform into digital businesses, it's important that the customer experience remain a top priority, officials said.

"As I speak with customers and partners from around the world, one trend prevails: they're demanding a different experience—one that's contextual, persistent and proactive," Gary Barnett, senior vice president and general manager for Avaya's Engagement Solutions unit, wrote in a post on the company blog. "They want innovations that are defined and provide the right information at any time using the devices of their choosing. Today, we're meeting their demands with a broad new set of Avaya solutions that focuses on customer engagement. Exponential changes in technology and the ways in which it's consumed demand new ideas and breakthrough solutions. … In a world where experience is everything, Avaya is helping our customers create their own amazing communications experiences."

Oceana is the latest move by Avaya—which competes with the likes of Cisco Systems and Microsoft in such segments as unified communications (UC) and networking—as it continues to navigate a difficult transformation to more of a communications software and services provider. In March, the company not only rolled out Breeze, but also announced Zang, a new subsidiary that sells a communications platform-as-a-service, reflecting the growing trend in the industry as businesses demand more flexibility, scalability and cost efficiency in their environments.

It also comes amid reports that Avaya executives are trying to sort out the company's future. President and CEO Kevin Kennedy in May said the company has hired Goldman Sachs and Centerview Partners to help assess Avaya's current structure and alternatives for the future, and reports soon surfaced that Avaya—or at least some of its assets—could be put up for sale.

With Oceana, Avaya is looking to extend its strength in the contact center market, according to Sheila McGee-Smith, principal analyst with McGee-Smith Analytics.

"Avaya remains the contact center provider for thousands of companies worldwide," McGee-Smith wrote in a post on the No Jitter blog site. "But for several years, many have felt the company has not provided a clear roadmap for how it will turn the myriad of contact center point products in its portfolio into a coherent solution. Oceana is Avaya's latest attempt to do so. … Avaya is hoping that the Oceana announcement and roadmap will give existing customers a reason to stay with the company as it builds out the full solution. For some of the huge Avaya contact centers, with tens of thousands of agents, change is always slow. This early view of Oceana, Oceanalytics, and Workspaces may be enough to keep them loyal to Avaya."

The company will continue to build out the components of Oceana. A key part of the initial rollout is Oceanalytics, an analytics and reporting platform that gives users a single and comprehensive view of their customers across all sources of information, including both Avaya and non-Avaya systems. In addition, enterprises can add other data sources as needed, to give them a holistic view of their customers' experiences.

"Customers can deploy analytics and reporting capabilities using Avaya Analytics Collector Snap-ins, develop their own capabilities with Avaya Breeze or integrate third-party capabilities," Avaya's Barnett wrote.

Oceana Workspaces is the browser-based client through which that holistic, cumulative view is delivered to agents, supervisors and experts, officials said.

The platform supports a broad range of devices—from smartphones and tablets running Apple's iOS and Google's Android mobile operating systems to PCs running Microsoft's Windows and Apple's Mac OSes to kiosks—to deliver consistent experiences for both customers and businesses. The system collects context from all points of customer interaction and helps businesses ensure that customers get access to the agents and resources they need.

The initial phase of Oceanalytics offering Collector Snap-ins for Avaya Elite, Experience Portal and Aura Contact Center and Proactive Contact will be available in the third quarter, with Ocean becoming generally available in the fourth quarter.