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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Avaya Gets UC Moving With Healthcare Mobility

Copyright (C) Unified-View, All Rights Reserved.

At Last! Avaya Embraces “Dual Personna” Mobility For Health Care Apps

by Art Rosenberg

I know that one of my UC Strategies colleagues, Don Van Doren, attended the 2011 HIMSS Conference in Atlanta and should be able to report more details in how UC is making progress with health care applications. However, I was very impressed to see Avaya jumping in with both feet to exploit mobile devices for both hospital staff as well as mobile patient contacts to fully exploit UC for operational efficiency and effectiveness. (Never mind reduced telephony costs because of IP Telephony and SIP trunking!)

I have always seen mobility as the real driver for end user interest and benefits from UC and Avaya has finally connected some of the dots between the hospital environment, health care information systems, and patients who are not in a hospital environment but are key participants in operational performance issues. Given that the health care topic is at the top of this country’s financial concerns, anything that will help improve the performance of health care activities will get attention from everybody!

So, the headlines that got my attention are some of Avaya’s new solutions announced at HIMSS this past week. What’s important is that this is not just a start-up company with a bright idea, but an experienced technology provider with an established market share that is finally delivering something significantly better to the marketplace. (So, expect others to follow suit accordingly!)

  • Mobile Device Checkout - Basically, this new function supports “dual personna” mobility on premise by letting hospital staff use their own, personalized mobile devices to be be automatically accessible through the hospital’s phone system and WLAN, by generating a temporary unique phone number. It allows for role-based-contacts, rather than having to know specific individual names and numbers, and it ties into a presence-based system for locating personnel. Yeah!
  • Nurse Call Response - This solution replaces the need for a patient to contact a nurse’s station in order to talk the nurse responsible for her care, but will initiate the contact directly with the appropriate nurse either available or assigned such responsibility. This reduces the wasted time delay and frustrations for a patient who needs immediate attention. (The announcement did not mention any options for such call contacts to exploit the benefits of UC with visual information on a smart-phone device.)
  • Patient Admit Coordinator - This “workflow” solution targets patients coming to an Emergency Room for treatment to be admitted to a hospital bed. Currently, such procedures are paper-based, slow, inefficient, and costly. (I know from recent personal experience!)
  • Patient Appointment Reminder - This is not really anything new, but is a basic application that can capitalize on the multi-modality of UC for personalized notifications. It is particularly useful for health care and especially for senior citizens whose memory starts to suffer with age. It is also useful for other types of reminders, such as time to take a particular medication, or if an automated patient monitoring application detects a new problem, the need to see a particular doctor or take a particular medication suddenly becomes critical.

The above applications are tied to mobility of the individual end user, either as a contact initiator or a contact recipient, which in turn is tied to UC for flexible communications. I am sure there are other apps/solution examples in the health care environment, and some of these will also apply to other business activities, e.g., appointment reminders, CEBP applications, etc. So, I am glad to see some of the fundamental visions of UC that I and my colleagues have been pushing for several years starting to be realized in the real world.

What Do You Think?
Contact me at or (310) 395-2360

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Avaya Opens Up Another Space For UC – Meeting New People With “Virtual” Group Conferencing

Copyright © 2011 The Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide

February 17, 2011

Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

I don’t know about you, but there is so much change going on with business communication technologies in the evolution to a “unified communications” (UC) environment, that it is hard to keep up with all the products and services that are being announced. This is particularly true because “UC” is subsuming all kinds of telephony usage and is being applied to every aspect of communication technologies with people, including network infrastructures, mobile multimodal endpoint devices, business process application integrations, and multimedia end user interfaces.

Because I don’t have the time to attend conferences or webinars at different times and locations, I rely heavily on the objective, first-hand reviews that my UC Strategy colleagues and other industry analysts who report on a variety of new announcements and discussions at conferences and presentations. This includes the big shift taking place from CPE hardware products and software suites to software-based and hosted “cloud” application services.

Who Will Control The UC Market?

Although I am interested in the technology startups that develop new UC capabilities that will directly benefit individual end users or enterprise management, I pay particular attention to the leading technology providers that already have large installed business organization customer bases. They will be the ones that can stay out in front of the evolving “business UC market,” providing that their products and services stay tuned into what different types of end users really need and want in order to flexibly initiate or respond to multi-modal contacts with other people and/or self-service applications.

From a telephony perspective, it’s all about migrating from the limitations and culture of legacy wired, desktop TDM telephony and conversational voice to mobile and multimodal SIP-based connections, where unified communication applications can take hold. Voice conferencing for group discussions and presentations long ago shifted to Internet web conferencing and webinars, so I was curious to see what Avaya’s latest announcement about web.alive in the enterprise space was bringing to the UC table. (Like many other new application product/service offerings, the names given to them are not very descriptive and “web.alive” is no exception.)

Web.alive Virtual Voice Conferencing

The “alive” label seems to be the latest buzzword to discuss real-time communications and interactions between people. According to Avaya, here’s what’s new for them for their web.alive offering in business group voice conferencing:

“The new purchasing options make Avaya web.alive available as a service through a monthly subscription for individual hosts or via annual concurrent user based pricing. Business organizations can also opt to install and manage the software on their own servers. The flexibility of purchase options enables any size business or organization to use Avaya web.alive for meetings, training, or sales and service opportunities involving both internal and external participants.”

“In addition to the purchasing options, new features and capabilities in Avaya web.alive include:

  • New 3D audio engine for dramatic spatial audio that helps participants better identify and understand who is speaking and their location within the environment.

  • Built-in collaboration tools including desktop sharing and cooperative web browsing
  • Avaya Aura SIP interface for integration with existing communications infrastructure enabling participants to join a collaboration session via the telephone or inside of the web.alive environment
  • New templates that make it easy to design environments that meet the needs of a company or host.
  • Downloadable SDK to enable customers or hosts to independently create and upload their own custom content.
  • Analytics that provide the data to enhance collaboration, selling or learning efforts. For example, insight can be gained into traffic and conversation patterns, sales and presentation effectiveness, travel savings, etc. The notification engine can email contact center agents when customers have entered an Avaya web.alive sales or service.”
As you can see, Avaya is capitalizing on its experience, market share, in legacy in legacy voice telephony to upgrade telephone conferencing with greater operational flexibility, manageability, and lower costs. These are all useful benefits for business organizations that have to deal with remote end users, whether inside or outside of the organization. The latter is particularly important for supporting business partners and customers, who will be communicating with a variety of endpoint devices and services that are not controllable by the sponsoring enterprise. However, their traffic analytics technology can monitor any form of contact from the outside and automatically notify appropriate staff personnel (contact center agents, subject matter experts, operational management, etc.) if live assistance is needed.

So, What’s Really New?

From an end user perspective, which I really look for in driving demand and adoption of anything new in business operations, Avaya has facilitated easy access to any audience members who want to participate in group presentations and discussions. In addition to traditional “virtual’ web conferencing facilities, they allow audience members to interact on a “face-to-face” basis, but without the expense and effort of a video conference.

The web.alive platform also enables a variety of UC-based messaging activities that are controllable by the individual conference participants as either contact initiators or recipients within a common context of the web presentation. This pays off in less travel cost and business process performance time, as well as convenience for end users who are increasingly remote, in other organizations, and even mobile. This makes it ideal for a public, “cloud-based” service rather than a premise-based, enterprise responsibility.

A good characterization of what web.alive does differently is to allow end users of any type to participate in the audience and also selectively “collaborate” with other individuals in an online conference without necessarily having a relationship beforehand. That is what attracts people to attend trade shows where individual attendees can find new people to talk to and exchange information without scheduling a meeting first. All they have to do is be available and communication accessible at the same time, which means that contacts can also be made with “experts,” who are not necessarily attending audience members.

From a UC perspective, the ability to exploit email, IM, SMS, etc. for such new ad hoc contacts is a big plus, because two-way, real-time voice conversations are more difficult to do instantly all the time and appropriate for simple information exchange and collaborative work. Talking may also be inappropriate while listening to a group presentation or discussion. Such different contacts can be initiated separately and concurrently by the audience individuals involved, not just by the speakers or presenters.

The “immersive” use of 3D spatial audio and video avatars is an attempt at recreating the face-to-face conference environment, but the use of face-to-face avatars doesn’t do much for me. I would be satisfied with a real-time voice conversation and the display of information related to the subject at hand, rather than watching an avatar. (Although if you wanted to watch the reaction of a group of people in the audience who are not talking, the avatar approach might be one way to try to do that using some form of automated “group assessment” of facial reactions.)

What is most important from an implementation perspective is that Avaya is moving its real-time telephony technology to a supplementary, UC-based, flexible conferencing service offering that includes users from anywhere, including enterprise customers, with lower pricing and ease of integration with legacy phone systems. So take a look at it from the perspective of a step forward with UC in a group conferencing environment.

For detailed reports on Avaya’s web.alive demo, go to:

What Do You Think?

You can contact me at: or (310) 395-2360.