Partnering crucial to converged communications vision

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System integrators can expect to play an increasingly important role as enterprises accelerate migration to converged communications, vendor Avaya told attendees at its partner and customer forum in Sydney today.

Karyn Mashima, senior vice-president for strategy and technology at the US-based IP telephony vendor, in her keynote talk singled out system integrators and other partners as long-term winners in the drive to convergence.

'System integrators will become more important. Business partners are very important and we will continue to invest very heavily in Avaya Global Services as well,' Mashima said.

Increasingly, customers, whether businesspeople or consumers, want better service –- a goal that has seemed harder to reach as businesses become more reliant on IT. Companies today tend to function as diverse collections of information silos that don't interoperate.

Mashima said that business dealings would remain inconsistent and frustrating for many customers as long as IT failed to knit together all the information available to produce a holistic view of the customer and the processes that went into serving that customer.

She said that contact centres that enabled effective customer service would generate loyalty from those customers, instead of alienating them. Telecommunications –- particularly mobile telecommunications –- was key.

The skill of system integrators –- and of other channel players, such as developers -– was crucial to creating integrated, interoperable, multi-vendor communications platforms and thus providing better customer service, Mashima said.

'Although IP (Internet Protocol) is wonderful, it's not going to be the only network out there. There will be, as long as we're alive and care, [others such as] TDM (Time Division Multiplexing) and ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) as well,' she said.

No single vendor could provide the answer, Mashima said.

Avaya works with partners such as Canada's Avotus and the US' Verint to provide extra functionality to Avaya's products.

David Burr, MD at Avotus Australia, said Avotus provided applications that worked with products from vendors, including Avaya, enabling businesses to get a better view of their telecommunications network.

For example, Avotus Enterprise software allowed administrative staff to track and break down calls on an Avaya IP telephony network by type, caller, call recipient, time, and length, Burr said.

Deon De Villiers, a regional manager at Verint, said its flagship Ultra modules worked with products from most of the main players. Ultra Intelligent Recording mined contact centre interactions across a variety of applications used by any one business and delivered data to other desktops as needed, he said.

Avaya's Mashima pointed out that protocols such as Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), while not suitable for every business, were set to make cross-platform, multi-vendor telecommunications much easier for many users.

SIP's main advantage was that it could help new Avaya telecommunications hardware, such as telephones, talk to other, basically incompatible kinds of hardware, she said.

Traditional infrastructure supported voice and data on different networks. Today, many users were moving to converged networks that integrated voice, video and data over traditional or IP infrastructure, Mashima said.

However, communications would continue to converge to a point where there would be a multi-modal user experience. That is, users would communicate and share information across multiple modes or digital media, she said.

Distributed applications could then be used to integrate, improve and streamline business processes across multiple modes, locations, branches, and networks globally. 'It would be all one communication facility and it would not matter where I was in the world,' Mashima said.


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