In the battle for UC leadership, every vendor is looking for a unique go-to-market angle to one-up the competition. Last week, Avaya held an event it called “Avaya Engages Silicon Valley,” where its executives discussed how it was a solution provider to enable businesses to capitalize on this “Era of Engagement.” The point was that competitive advantage is derived from an organization’s ability to “engage” with customers, employees, partners, etc., effortlessly through multi-channel communications.
To support the vision, the company has developed a number of what it calls engagement solutions, including a new UC client called Communicator and a video solution called LiveVideo, among other products. However, there is one product that can help Avaya rise above the noise of UC and be a secret weapon for the company in the battle for UC supremacy.
The Avaya Engagement Developer Platform (EDP), formerly known as Collaboration Environment, shifts UC from being an application to a set of capabilities that can be integrated into other applications. EDP is targeted not at network managers or communications professionals, but at software developers, business analysts, and ISVs to create unique, communications-enabled applications.
This concept certainly isn’t new, but the development process has historically been highly fragmented and required a very high level of CTI experience, thus limiting the addressable market. Avaya has invested heavily in this product, and several of its features can differentiate it from competing options:
- Modern programming languages. As obvious as this may seem, the communications industry is really not well aligned with today’s programming environments. EDP enables programmers to use the tools they know how to use, including JSON, REST, and XML, instead of having them learn new languages. I feel this is a huge step forward for the UC industry in general, as it opens the door to a new group of buyers and channel partners that may not have had much interest in UC in the past.
- No CTI or telephony knowledge required. Most cloud, mobile, and social developers have almost no knowledge of legacy communications. EDP is designed in a way that no telephony skills are needed, but it still provides a rich set of communications capabilities.
- Cloud-ready. Avaya EDP is completely virtualized, meaning developers and ISVs can build applications ready for the cloud.
- Multichannel capabilities. Avaya EDP was designed with full multimedia capabilities, including traditional voice, mobile, email, SMS and video functionality.
- Single developer interface. The Avaya EDP Software Developers Kit provides a single interface into all of the Avaya Aura capabilities and has a complete range of modalities and applications.
The latest release of EDP, version 3.0, added a set of “snap-in” modules to further simplify and speed up the development process. A snap-in can be thought of as a modular, reusable piece of code that enables a specific function. The snap-ins available at launch include WebRTC, real-time speech, context store, and work assignment. The first two are self-explanatory. The context store provides a single place to get rich contextual information, such as location, identity, and other customer or business information. The work assignment snap-in enables the creation of rules on how to handle certain transactions. A simple example of this would be for an investment firm to route all calls from high-value clients to a specialized group of customer service people.
Version 3.0 of EDP also includes something called the AvayaLive Collaboratory, which is a subscription service to a virtualized version of EDP living in the cloud. Now, instead of having to rack and stack a bunch of hardware and install software to bring up the Avaya environment, it’s available instantly via the cloud for a monthly fee. I interviewed a small European developer about Collaboratory, and they told me that the process for just procuring the equipment and installing it would have been a three-to-four-week project, and that’s just to get the environment up and running. Instead, they leveraged Collaboratory and brought an application to market within just two weeks.
I firmly believe that UC needs to make the shift from product to platform and become an enabler of capabilities. Workers don’t want more stuff on their desktops or mobile phones. Instead, give them more capabilities in the applications they already use. That’s the goal of the Avaya Engagement Development Platform, and that’s why I think Avaya can use this as a secret weapon to open the door to new buyers, such as line-of-business managers and application developers.