8×8 snaps up Jitsi open source comms tech from Atlassian

8×8 has acquired the Jitsi open source video communications technology from Australian software firm Atlassian, along with its team of open source video technology experts.

Jitsi’s set of modular open-source projects that allow businesses to easily build and deploy secure video communication services.

“The best video communications solutions are so intuitive and reliable that they help employees conduct shorter, more productive meetings. 8×8 has already developed a world-class meetings solution for enterprises, and we’re focused on maintaining leadership in delivering reliable, crystal-clear video and audio conferencing quality across mobile and desktop applications,” said Dejan Deklich, Chief Product Officer at 8×8.

“Incorporating Jitsi’s open-source technology into our video communications technology platform, and having Jitsi’s talented engineering team play a role in leading our development of dedicated conferencing applications and WebRTC, will open new paths for our customers and further enhance our meetings solution.”

Jitsi is designed to run thousands of video streams from a single server. “It’s fully open source with a community of developers supporting the project as well as 100 percent standards compliant using technologies like WebRTC,” said 8×8. “At the heart of Jitsi is the Jitsi Videobridge conferencing server and Jitsi Meet conferencing and collaboration application.”

Under the deal, Jitsi’s video communications technology – which will be integrated into 8×8’s Meetings video and audio conferencing platform – will remain open source, ensuring that Jitsi stays in the forefront of Video Conferencing industry developments, including new application use cases.

“The open source community has played a critical role in advancing Jitsi’s projects by validating its use in a diverse set of environments and complementing the core team’s development. As part of this acquisition, 8×8 is committed to continuing to support the growing developer community, and we are excited to engage even more,” said 8×8 Chairman and CTO Bryan Martin.


Avaya gets bots chatting, learning in world-first social media demo

Avaya has said it will demonstrate the first social platform for chatbots at GITEX Technology Week 2018, “ushering in a giant leap forward in customer self-service.” Drawing parallels from traditional social media, the firm’s offering provides a structured platform for bots to engage each other in a secure and controlled manner, extending the expertise and effectiveness of each individual chatbot. According to Avaya, a global survey of 8,000 consumers it conducted found that 80% of people expect an immediate response from their banks, hospitals, hotels and governments, highlighting the need for efficient and ‘always-on’ customer service. “With automation, organizations can overcome their human resource limitations and meet these customer expectations by delivering seamless, intuitive and intelligent experiences across all touch points. Bots are rapidly becoming one of the most powerful means to positively impact customer service, second only to face-to-face interaction,” said Avaya Innovation SVP Laurent Philonenko. Avaya said a key shortcoming of enterprise chatbots is that they are domain-specific and can respond only to a relatively narrow set of dialogues. “This has limited their ability to fully and efficiently service customers’ requests when they face questions they haven’t been trained to answer,” it added. “But what if we could enable chatbots from different domains and industries to collaborate and exchange information via a highly regulated platform, and find answers from other chatbots, not just humans? We could, in effect, securely link enterprises, significantly expanding the efficacy and expertise of any single bot thereby enabling organizations to deliver an exceptional level of customer service, reducing the need for human intervention and enabling deeper self-service, as well as reducing the need for supervised learning,” added Ahmed Helmy, Solutions Architects Director, Avaya EMEA & APAC. GITEX delegates will witness first-hand how Avaya’s platform would allow any enterprise to register its chatbot with a unique social profile and ‘friend’ other member bots from different domains and industries. This social platform demonstration will also allow chatbots to rate each other, and store confidence metrics based on the quality of information received, and feedback from end customers, leading to constant improvements in each bot’s quality and speed of customer service. Avaya envisages two scenarios for how customer and bot interactions will be handled in real timeeither the original bot contacts a friended bot on the customer’s behalf and delivers the received answer, or the original bot connects the customer to a friended bot in the style of a conference call. “This is a huge step forward in addressing the information and service bottlenecks of chatbot systems,” said Helmy. “The social platform model also means that Avaya’s customers can increase the value of their chatbot solutions without having to engage in lengthy and costly data curation or warehousing projects.”

8×8 names Tradewinds Brokerage as Australia-based master agent

San Jose based provider of cloud phone, meeting, collaboration and contact centre services 8×8 has expanded its partner ecosystem, appointing Tradewinds Brokerage, a Telarus Group company, as its master agent for Australia.

“As 8×8 expands its Australian market footprint as the preferred choice for enterprise communications, our channel partners continue to play a critical role in helping our customers take employee and customer engagement to a superior level,” said 8×8 Asia-Pacific VP Brendan Maree.

8×8 said its range of integrated cloud communications, collaboration and contact centre offerings will help Tradewinds’ agents move mid-market and enterprise companies’ communications to the cloud, “transforming both the employee and customer experience with more powerful customer interactions and improved employee productivity.”

Tradewinds, for its part, will complement 8×8’s existing business by sourcing new third-party cloud brokers in new markets where there is a growing demand for cloud-based communications.
“Tradewinds is the first technology services distributor of its kind in Australia focusing exclusively on helping its agent partners design, price, and source complex cloud-based technology solutions,” said 8×8. “It works closely to help cloud brokers develop go-to-market strategies that work, including helping partners identify and design the right technology solutions for their customers, refining their marketing, and giving them the blueprints to grow their service business.”  

Avaya, Unisys partnership to see key customer experience in Aussie market

Avaya and Unisys have forged a partnership to help Australian organisations – including government, financial services, transportation and healthcare – deliver relevant and secure customer experiences (CX) driven by advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

The agreement will provide joint clients in Australia with integrated transformative solutions combining Avaya’s contact centre (CC) and unified communications (UC) platforms with Unisys’ industry-specific secure solutions and expertise. This will equip Australian organisations with comprehensive and secure solutions to establish UC and CC environments in situations where data security and integrity is paramount.

“As an extension of our global strategy to partner for customer success, this agreement enables us to address the bigger picture for our local customers so they can deliver real outcomes for their employees and clients,” said Avaya ANZ MD Peter Chidiac.

“Our customers are interested in outcomes for their organisations – they rely on us to understand how we can help them overcome challenges and capitalise on opportunities, particularly with the changes the digital economy has generated. Today, our conversations with our customers focus on the potential impact of automation, biometrics and other advanced technologies on their operations. Our alliance with Unisys in Australia further expands the value we deliver in those discussions.”

According to IDC[1], Australian organisations rank CX as their top priority in a contact centre market valued at more than $500 million as of last year. Meanwhile, 73 per cent are striving to improve CX through technology that optimises agent performance and delivers a more customer-centric channel offering, according to Fifth Quadrant[2]. Through this partnership, Avaya and Unisys are positioned to execute on an integrated go-to-market strategy centred on the diverse CX requirements of organisations in this mature region.

“We are in the age of the customer – it takes capability, flexibility and industry experience to deliver an intuitive, consistent and secure experience for our clients,” said Murray Whitlocke-Jones, Partner and Alliance Director, Unisys Asia Pacific. “By partnering together we can combine Unisys’ deep industry experience and portfolio of solutions with Avaya’s software- and cloud-based client-centric technologies to deliver transformative and secure solutions for organisations in the government, finance, travel and transport and healthcare sectors.”

While the integrated Avaya-Unisys solutions are fundamentally industry-agnostic, significant demand is expected from large enterprises in government, financial services, transport and utilities, with several projects currently underway.

Avaya lands key 5-yr contact centre deal with Australian Department of Defence

Avaya has been selected as the Australian Department of Defence’s contact centre technology and services provider, with the firm winning an exclusive five-year contract  to help Defence migrate and consolidate its 14 contact centres to Avaya’s omnichannel platform.

“The migration to a centralised environment for each of its contact centres creates the opportunity for Defence to get closer to its ‘customers’ – whether they are employees across its various departments or external parties – than ever before,” said Avaya ANZ MD Peter Chidiac.

ooo“Once the transition is complete, Defence will be able to combine automation and analytics to provide personalised experiences to all stakeholders.”

Avaya said Defence’s contact centres comprised about 650 personnel, servicing some 40 lines of business. “The new solution will enable Defence’s contact centres to be fully unified with all communications channels and associated applications. This will help Defence expand its automation and analytics capabilities,” it added.

It also said that once complete, the agreement will allow contact centre agents within each operational arm of Defence to have visibility into combined data sets, allowing them to deliver personalised interactions ranging from simple tickets for desktop support to more sophisticated issues related to Defence business lines.

In addition, operators will be able to resolve issues at first point of contact.capability. By creating integrated contact centres within its own environment, Avaya will deliver the foundation for omnichannel interactions allowing operators to tailor their responses to meet individual needs.

[the_ad_placement id=”below-content”] Avaya is also stepping up accessibility for all personnel who engage with the contact centres. For example, the new capability will cater for callers who may have hearing impairments, giving them a specialised service that optimises their experiences.

8×8 expands Australia-based headcount to meet “ongoing growth” of regional business

San Jose based provider of cloud-based phone, collaboration and contact centre services  8×8 is stepping up its foray into the Australian market, expanding its sales, technical support and marketing team to support the ongoing growth of its business in the region.

“These talented leaders will help us drive our next phase of growth by providing further support to our customers and partners in achieving their goals and accelerating their pace of business,” said the firm’s APAC VP Brendan Maree.

“We also look forward to reinforcing our positive momentum in the market for our range of cloud communications and customer engagement solutions among both public and private sector organisations.”

Adam Kratiuk has joined 8×8 as an Account Executive based in Sydney. He has 13 years’ experience in customer experience solutions having most recently been Mid-Market Sales Manager at Genesys. He was also previously Mid-Market Territory Manager at Interactive Intelligence and worked for Distribution Central and IPL Communications in channel management roles.

Also joining 8×8 as an Account Executive based in Sydney is Eric Anderson who also adds more than 13 years’ sales experience in hardware and software solutions with a focus on SaaS and business intelligence applications. Anderson was previously an Enterprise Account Executive at NewVoiceMedia and also worked at Salesforce as a Commercial Account Executive. In addition he has worked for PeopleCube, Manhattan Software and Asure Software in several sales executive roles.

Timothy Knox has been appointed APAC Enterprise Sales Engineer with responsibility for working with customers to maximise the return on investment on their 8×8 deployment.

Knox has 12 years’ experience in cloud contact centre and analytics, having commenced his career as a systems engineer with VoIP where he assisted with some of the largest hosted telephony deployments in Australia. Most recently, he was Lead Solutions Engineer at NewVoiceMedia and has also held consulting engineering roles with Walkerscott, Arrow Voice & Data, and Citidel Telephone Systems.

Chris Pikios has been appointed Deployment Engineer with responsibility for supporting 8×8 customer implementation success. Pikios has ten years’ experience in the IT industry and was most recently Technical Support Specialist with QPC. Prior, he was Telecommunications Technician with TKO Solutions and has also worked in engineering support roles for Reliance Communications, Infiniti Telecommunications and Allstar Solutions.

Pablo Munoz has joined 8×8 as ANZ Field Communications Executive. In this role, Munoz is tasked with increasing brand awareness, lead generation and channel enablement. Munoz joins 8×8 following three years as a digital producer at Ondicom, one of Australia’s leading digital agencies focused on real estate. He was previously Marketing Manager at IPL Group and a marketing executive with Ingram Micro.


Twilio beefs up artificial intelligence capabilities with new Google Cloud Contact Centre AI integration

San Francisco based cloud communications specialist Twilio has announced a new collaboration with Google Cloud to integrate the Contact Center AI service into its Flex contact centre platform, bolstering its artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities.
Google Cloud’s Contact Center AI service combines multiple AI products to improve the customer service experience, as well as the productivity of contact centres.  
0 (3)“Every company has a need to communicate with their customers and, for most businesses, this interaction is handled by the contact centre,” said Al Cook, head of Twilio Flex. 
“AI has the potential to improve the effectiveness of the contact centre dramatically and make those human interactions more impactful.”
“We’re excited to support Google Cloud’s Contact Center AI within Flex and, in turn, give developers greater choice as they work to deliver better experiences for their customers,” Cook added.
Specifically, Google Cloud Contact Center AI is made up of three products:
  • Virtual Agent – a conversational AI bot that uses an enterprise’s knowledge base and back-end processes to speak with customers
  • Agent Assist – passes customer to live agents if needed and suggests answers to agents based on previous interactions
  • Analytics – uses enterprise data and knowledge to train how virtual agent and agent assist products serve customers
Twilio, which offers developers an agile platform to build intelligent, next-generation customer experiences, said that the collaboration allowed Twilio Flex customers to use a virtual agent that can resolve a range of customer issues and, if required, transfer customers to a live agent with access to suggested responses based on previous interactions.
“These kinds of intelligent conversations enable enterprises to streamline their contact centre teams and ultimately resolve customer inquiries more quickly and effectively,” it added.

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In addition, Twilio has simplified integration between  its Programmable Voice platform and Google’s Dialogflow capability – allowing developers to build automated AI-driven conversational user interfaces and voice bots.