Lou D'Ambrosio's keynote – his first since taking Avaya private, and the opening keynote at VoiceCon reminded everyone of two immutable facts:

  • The US is in the middle of a Presidential election year
  • Every IT department has a responsibility to buy itself (and the rest of us) out of recession

In an attempt to democratize unified communications, he spoke eloquently and positioned clips of Hilary Clinton, Barach Obama and John McCain as reinforcement messages to help us all decide that we should do UC as key parts of his impassioned plea.

Avaya announced a mobile worker package at $0.15/user/day over 3 years ($164.25/user). The package includes:

  • video license for the softphone 
  • VPN client
  • Speech access
  • Mobile call control
  • Avaya one-X Communicator client (softphone, desktop video, visual voicemail, rich presence, email and instant messaging, conference bridge integration, directors and contact histories)

Following the IBM and Microsoft traditions of including product demonstrations as part of the keynote, Jorge Blanco came out and did a superfast walk through Avaya's retail relationship with Indyme call box, an in-store call button for unattended customers. Customers can scan the product bar code to connect with the contact center of product specialists when the store aisle is unattended.

The highlight for me was the anecdote of the University of Washington's video contact center. Video contact centers have been talked about for the past decade, but I could never understand the compelling reason for a multimedia contact center, until I heard this anecdote.

Doctors have to treat people regardless of the languages they speak and regardless of the language that patients speak. English speaking doctors have to treat English-speaking people and Spanish-speaking people. They need to ask them questions and let the patient use their hand and fingers to point to pains and describe the quality of the diagnosis, precautions on drug interactions and the like. This is virtually impossible to do if you don't speak the language of the patient, or can't see where the patient is pointing to. So, using a video contact center, patients explain their pains over video to the contact center agent who translates for the doctor. The doctor explains the diagnosis and prescription for the agent to translate to the patient. The patient repeats the diagnosis or asks questions to confirm their understanding and the doctor can be satisfied that the loop is closed. Sure beats handsigns and speaking slowly and LOUDLY! 

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