Avaya Launches Zang, a Cloud Communications Platform

At the Enterprise Connect conference earlier this week, customer engagement solution provider Avaya introduced Zang, a cloud communications platform that supports application development, embeds capabilities from outside solutions such as Salesforce, and offers a turnkey application called Zang Spaces.

The solution was developed due to the growing consumerization of communication as well as the shift toward cloud-based solutions, explains Gary Barnett, senior vice president and general manager of Avaya Business Solutions.

"Consumerization has had an impact on communications. People are much more used to video now with things like HangOuts and FaceTime. They're used to being able to very easily go from an embedded application, click on a phone number, and the next thing that happens is their phone dials on their mobile device," he says.

"Mobile devices in general are consumers' primary way of communicating, and it's changed [business] communications very rapidly," he adds.

Avaya also saw the need for a cloud-based communications solution that works based on a "pay-for-what-you-use model," according to Barnett.

Zang's central offering is the communications platform–as–a–service, which will enable businesses to simplify the way they communicate with customers. One use case would be in the restaurant industry, where instead of relying on plastic devices that vibrate when a customer's table is ready, for example, the restaurant could use SMS to communicate with customers and pay only for the messages that they actually send. "That is a great example of where in the traditional Avaya world that would have either been impossible or prohibitively expensive. With Zang, that example is trivial to put into place," Barnett says.

In addition to offering the communication platform–as–a–service, Zang also enables businesses to develop applications for the platform as well. "That's one of the reasons it makes sense that Zang and Avaya have a very close relationship, as a subsidiary of Avaya," Barnett explains, "because that's intellectual property that Avaya can make available to Zang, and that's exactly what we've done." Zang also allows organizations to connect existing business solutions, such as Salesforce.com tools, with consumer tools, such as Google Hangouts.

Additionally, Zang is now home to a persistent spaces solution called Zang Spaces, which helps build continuous conversations between customers and businesses, as well as among employees. Instead of starting every customer service interaction from scratch, Zang Spaces keeps the conversation active so that it's easier for customer service agents to follow up on all past conversations and pick up exactly where the previous interaction leaves off.

Moving forward, Barnett says Avaya will continue to expand and improve Zang, developing it as an autonomous subsidiary. It wasn't launched as part of Avaya, he explains, because the solution needed to be flexible and move fast. "[We wanted it to] be thought of as a completely cloud-based company that is able to move very rapidly with things like development tools, get customers and developers up and running very rapidly, and be paid for by credit card. It's just a different business model," he says.

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