9th February 2017

By: Jon Seddon, Head of Product Management.

What have the likes of Blackberry, Kodak, Nokia, Compaq, EDS and Commodore all got in common? The answer isn’t too hard to find. They’re all great technology brands that once stood tall which are either no longer with us or stripped back to the bare bones, clinging on to a small subset of what they were previously. Is Avaya about to join this list? You’ll no doubt have seen that Avaya, weighed down with an eye watering $6bn debt sought chapter 11 bankruptcy protection the other week.

In its heyday, Avaya set the standard for telecoms equipment. For IT purchases it was often said that no one ever got fired for buying IBM, well the same could have been said for Avaya. But that was back in the day when everyone had a landline and we were largely shackled to the desk at work. Whilst we hope for the sake of its customers and staff that Avaya can continue, times have changed and there are simply better ways to communicate and more importantly collaborate.  

When Satya Nadella first took up the reins at Microsoft in 2014 his opening words to staff were our industry does not respect tradition — it only respects innovation.’ How right he was (and is). This statement has always been true to an extent but the cloud has accelerated the rate of technology change – for the better. It’s why the likes of Uber and Airbnb can go from nothing to multibillion dollar valuations in just a few years – they’ve been able to switch on limitless technology capacity with the press of a button and leave someone else to worry about how to manage the infrastructure.

The Cloud is disrupting telecoms in just the same way. Why would any firm these days want to worry about hardware? It’s not just the cost of buying and maintaining it, do we really want the hassle of diverting our landlines when out of the office or look at a block of plastic on our desk that doesn’t need to be there?

Modern UC solutions are software based and unlike those born in the hardware generation they can be continually updated. When the latest feature or innovation is there, it’s available from your Cloud Provider and works instantly. And of course, solutions like Skype for Business offer so much more. You can share your screen with others when presenting, you can see your colleagues faces and you can instant message them for a quick enquiry. You can also use presence to see if people are available for ad-hoc meetings. The ‘landline’ is then any device you want it to be – your PC, your tablet, an app on your mobile – it’s your choice how and where you work.

Not everyone is ready yet to dive straight into full UC just yet which is the reason I’ve said that Avaya and companies need to remain to support them. Longer term though, all companies should look to make the transition to cloud based UC. If there are any barriers, it’s largely cultural but with the right training these are quickly overcome and firms can create a modern workplace fit for the future.