Avaya Inc.’s new Contact Center and Aura offerings are designed for companies who need to communicate with customers using the phone, e-mail, instant messaging and multiple forms of communication. It includes ACE, originally developed by Nortel Networks Corp.

Avaya updates call centre, Aura products

Seven months after acquiring the enterprise assets of Nortel Networks Corp., Avaya Inc. has released a new version of Contact Center and announced 14 other telecom products.

Contact Center, which Avaya acquired from Toronto-based Nortel, is designed to ensure that people contacting call centres do not have to repeat the same information to different customer service agents.

Jorge Blanco, vice president of product marketing for contact centre solutions at Basking Ridge, N.J.-based Avaya, described the new version as a “reversal of the push model” of handing off calls from one agent to another.

For example, if a call centre agent decides to hand a call to an in-house expert, the expert would “pull” the customer’s information from a central source.

“W can now truly begin to think about a session as an anchored repository of information that is active as all those transactions are taking place,” Blanco said during a webcast announcing the products. “The inherent technology to accomplish this simply was not available until we made it available with  capabilities like Avaya Aura and are taking advantage of it in the Avaya Aura contact centre suite.”

Contact Center is aimed at companies with up to 1,000 users, said Amir Hameed, systems engineering leader for Avaya Canada, during an interview with Network World Canada.

He added a customer service rep can communicate with a customer in up to five different ways, including phone, short messaging service (SMS) and e-mail.

“In a typical environment, I would be calling in, speaking to an agent and I get routed to another,” Hameed said. “I have to identify myself all over again.”

Customers communicate with companies through a variety of methods, including filling out Web forms, said Ronald Gruia, Toronto-based program leader for emerging telecoms at Frost & Sullivan.                       

“These days a lot of interaction is being done in real time, not just through the good old (public switched telephone network),” Gruia said. “Not everyone is going to pick up the phone and call, especially the younger generation.”

Contact Center was one of 15 products Avaya announced this week, which will work with Aura, which is comprised of private branch exchange (PBX) software loaded on to a Linux server. Aura uses session initiation protocol so it can work with PBXs from rival vendors.

Avaya is shipping standard edition of Aura Conferencing, which includes audio, video and Web conferencing on one server. The enterprise edition is scheduled to ship later this year. Both work with products from Microsoft Corp., IBM Corp. and Adobe Systems Inc.

Aura Messaging includes speech to text features and is designed for users of Octel messaging products wanting to upgrade.

Aura Presence Services is an instant messaging product that works with IBM’s Lotus Sametime, Microsoft and other Avaya products.

Version 6.0 of Aura Session Manager lets companies roll out the service to 100,000 users. Version 6.0 of Aura Communications Manager is designed to let companies migrate from H.323 hardware to session initiation protocol (SIP).

Avaya also announced version 6 of Aura System Manager, which is a management system for conferencing and messaging, and version 6 of Aura System Platform, which uses virtualization to combine different telecom software packages on to one server.

“Applications which were previously on dedicated servers .. can be bundled in a virtual environment with many other applications,” on to one server, Hameed said. He claimed users could reduce corporate telecom hardware requirements by up to 80 per cent.

In addition to the Aura products, Avaya this week announced four IP phones.

Avaya also announced updates to Communications Server 1000, which now supports Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) and version 2.2 of Agile Communications Environment, a set of application programming interfaces originally developed by Nortel.

“The key thing is they have to integrate all the Nortel stuff,” Gruia said. “The issue going forward is, if I’m a Nortel customer do I keep what I have and migrate to Avaya or do I go to a (request for proposals)?”

 

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