Avaya downplays the device with Flare

Avaya Inc. on Wednesday said the future of enterprise communication isn’tabout specific smart phones or tablets, but rather the tools and services thatare brought to the device.

Speaking at the first ever Avaya Evolutions conference in Canada, Avayaexecutives repeatedly stressed the company’s commitment to becoming thedominant player in the business communications space. Conference attendees weregiven in-depth product demos on its Avaya Aura unified communications platform,its recently updated Contact Center component, and the company’s new GoogleAndroid-based Flare tablet — which the company isreferring to as a “desktop video device.”

For Avaya, the motivation driving all of these products is the quest to makeenterprise communication and collaboration technologies more “context aware.”

“Gone are the days of pushing information to the business worker,” said JoelHackney, senior vice-president of global sales and marketing and president offield operations for Avaya. “We can now put the end user or customer in controlof the technology.”  

To highlight this, Avaya downplayed the actual Flare tablet device, andinstead, stressed the importance of the Flare software it runs. The companyeven plans to adapt the Flare software to work with smart phones and tabletsfrom other companies.
“Everybody gets jacked up about the device, but it’s not just about the device,”said Ross Pellizzari, the president of Avaya Canada. “It’s about what we’regoing to put on the device.”

The Flare tablet allows users to surf the Web, check e-mail and draftdocuments, but the “experience” is primarily geared toward making videoconference calls feel as close to a real meeting as possible.

Users can scroll through a list of contacts on the right side of the screen anddrag any contacts they want to call into a spotlight located in the centre ofthe screen.  The software will thencall participants via Avaya’s backend SIP-based unified communicationssoftware.

During a video call, the moderator can break off users into separate calls orsend private IMs to various team members. This was included in the product to allowusers to interact privately with each other as they might during an actualmeeting.

“The worst invention ever is the ‘reply all’ button for e-mail,” Alan Barataz,senior vice-president of global communications solutions for Avaya, toldconference attendees. “To make it worse, they put it right beside the ‘reply’button.”

To emphasize “context aware” communication, Avaya also outfitted Flare with ahistory button, which gives users a full audit of when and who they’ve spokento in the past.

Pellizzari said he hopes the company keeps adding “context aware” features infuture updates, especially functionality which addresses the “context of yourrelationships” with the people in your address book.

Along with a screen that details the past e-mail and video chat communicationsyou’ve had with your contact, Pellizzari would like to see a folder that mightcontain photos and other personal information about the user.

“You might want to remember that a customer has two kids that are your agebefore calling them,” he said.

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