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Avaya: Innovating Business Communication and Engagement

Avaya: Innovating Business Communication and Engagement

‘‘Deliver the experience your customers expect”

Today’s workforce is highly distributed, mobile, and seeks access to people and information through multiple channels and devices. Employees need to work with colleagues based in headquarters, regional centers, branch offices, and other remote locations, and communicating with them is critical for the growth of the employee and the company. Consumers need to get the real-time information and support they need from the companies they do business with, regardless of what channel they use. Avaya has been pioneering business communications and customer engagement for more than a decade to connect customers to companies and employees to each other to drive superior experiences.

Avaya’s history goes back decades as a part of AT&T and later as part of Lucent Technologies. Lucent decided to spin off its enterprise communications business as an independent company in 2000 with the objective to give the people who knew the business best, the flexibility and focus to accelerate innovation and improve operations. That business turned into the world’s leader in business communications that we see today.

Avaya is a recognized innovator leading business communications for the digital age. The company mainly focused on hardware until 2009 when the leadership team made the strategic decision to transform Avaya from a legacy hardware company to one that now gets nearly 80 percent of  its revenue from software and services. Today, Avaya delivers smart global solutions and technologies for customer and team engagement, including unified communications and collaboration, contact center and customer experience management.

Connecting Within

Avaya began as a leader in business communications and used that foundation to become an industry leader in the Unified Communications and Contact Center markets – evolving during the past decade from a hardware-focused company to one that generates the vast majority of its revenue from communications software and services.

Its solutions bring people together with the right information at the right time in the right context, helping to enable a higher level of engagement among customers, teams, employees and partners to improve efficiency and quickly address critical business challenges. Designed to be open, highly scalable, reliable, secure and flexible, these solutions help reduce costs and simplify management while providing a platform for next-generation engagement and collaboration.

While it does connect the rest of the world, it is the way it connects its own people that has worked for Avaya. Its creative and hardworking employee base is to be credited as much as, if not more than the pivoting minds that have led the company. Even though it’s a global company with a large workforce, it makes sure that each employee voice is heard. Every quarter, Avaya’s CEO is joined by members of the senior leadership team for a live all-employee broadcast. These conversations take a deep-dive into the company’s strategy, review progress against objectives, provide a platform for employee recognition and empower employees to ask questions directly to leadership while keeping them in loop about their own objectives in the company.

Bringing out the best

Keeping the workforce strong and efficient is one of the main reasons for Avaya’s success. It believes in recognizing its employees’ strengths, as well as their aspirations and desires, and combining that with the goals and direction of the company, allowing a great deal of autonomy to employees.

So how does it keep its workforce efficient?

It has a number of programs, including employee evaluations that run throughout the year, keeping its employees in top form and hungry for more. One such program is Avaya’s Five Conversations.

This platform encourages open discussions between managers and employees throughout the year on topics ranging from the sharing of the company’s vision and how that cascades to each business unit and team, goals, feedback and personal development.

Avaya uses an engagement survey to measure employee engagement and to get a pulse on what’s important to employees worldwide. It provides a reasonable span of control and encourages mid-size, diverse teams (global, multi-cultural, multi-levels) that provide an opportunity for each employee to contribute and excel. It also has benefits plans in each region to ensure work-life balance, as well as opportunities to be involved in the community from a philanthropic standpoint.

In addition to career progression and promotions of employees, Avaya has educational programs that are meant to help employees grow in their careers through educational courses and Hackathons. Its Hackathons are a great example of work autonomy, providing Avaya development teams with an opportunity to be innovative. Avaya has a Skillsoft learning system with hundreds of online courses offered for its entire employee base, and a newly launched campaign to re-educate and re-energize employees about this great tool and to align it with their learning and personal development plans. 

The company trains its managers on how to develop its employees and how to build a diverse and effective personal development plan. Avaya’s recognition program ensures that there are many ways leaders can recognize employees on work well done. These programs are multi-directional, allowing employees to recognize up and peer-to-peer. In addition to all this, Avaya has a leadership development program for senior directors – the company’s future leaders-- and a Sales Academy program that focuses on developing and nurturing early-career hires.

About the CEO

Jim Chirico became President & Chief Executive Officer on October 1, 2017. Since joining Avaya in 2008, he has been instrumental in the development of the company’s industry leading business model, including record EBITDA performance, best-in-class Net Promoter Score and increasing gross margin. As global sales leader, Jim has guided the company’s sales teams through the challenges of Avaya’s debt restructuring process. With a sharp focus on customer success, his teams have delivered consistently solid revenue performance and profitability.

Jim joined Avaya from Seagate Technology, where he was executive vice president, Global Operations, Development and Manufacturing. Jim began his career at IBM in 1980, rising through the ranks to lead the Networking Division. He received a B.S. in Marketing from Providence College in Rhode Island.

“Bringing people together with the right information at the right time in the right context.”

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