Betting on the cloud and collaboration

Are you still a cloud skeptic? Love those on-premise servers and equipment? Do you laugh at your competitors who are engaged in cloud-based services? Maybe Oracle CEO Larry Ellison can change your mind.

What about your voice services? Do you consider voice as a tool for collaboration? Do you even think about enabling effective collaboration within the organization? Better get on board because many of your voice service providers are no longer focused on just voice.

Oracle buys RightNow

Permira paid $1.5 billion to Alcatel-Lucent for only the Genesys unit. That’s about the same dollar amount paid by Ellison to acquire RightNow Technologies, a SaaS CRM provider. What does this say about cloud computing? Well, Genesys has been around longer and RNT was only started in 1997 (went public in 2004). Yet both valued similarly by the market. Well done, Greg Gianforte.

It’s safe to say that by now Ellison is a convert of cloud services. He may have been slow on this whole cloud thing (after witnessing the tremendous success of companies like Salesforce.com and RNT), but he can make that up by spending money to buy cloud enablers. Kind of like what Microsoft did to correct its path to compete on the World Wide Web. Oracle Public Cloud was just unveiled during OpenWorld a few weeks ago, and today Oracle has a cloud CRM offering with RightNow.

How smooth will the transition be? This is a gigantic Silicon Valley tech company with a big CEO personality gobbling up a young Bozeman, Montana outfit. All I can say is, Don’t mess with Ellison.

Avaya wants to lose its voice

Avaya is making it clear that it values channel partners who can sell collaboration solutions more than the traditional voice service sellers. This is a much needed strategic progression not only because of better profits but because it’s the demand of customers. Customers want solutions that increase productivity and efficiency, and not just some tech that’ll make a call from A to B. And with its recent acquisition of Aurix, Avaya is making a move to provide a more complete collaboration solution to its customers.

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Avaya gets into speech analytics with Aurix acquisition

Avaya continues to make inroads into expanding its unified communications and contact center capabilities with the acquisition of UK-based Aurix. The portfolio from Aurix will enable speech analytics on the Avaya Aura platform.

Aurix’s speech analytics engine is used in several well-known products in the industry.

The Aurix acquisition came just a few weeks after Avaya’s buyout of SIP security solutions provider Sipera. Is acquisition Avaya’s strategy to boost its Aura features? Security. Speech analytics. What else is next? I’m thinking reporting or data analytics.

Official press release from Avaya:

BASKING RIDGE, N.J. – Avaya, a global provider of business communications and collaboration systems and services, today announced it has acquired Aurix, a global provider of speech analytics and audio data mining technology. A UK-based company, Aurix is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Avaya.

Aurix’s patented technology enables real-time identification, search and data mining of large volumes of audio and audio-visual material. Built on scalable, open architecture, the company’s applications integrate with Avaya Aura® as well as applications from other vendors. Aurix’s solutions help increase the efficiency and effectiveness of customer service and collaboration events, as well as support compliance requirements and expand business intelligence.

The technologies will be incorporated into Avaya’s Contact Center and Unified Communications portfolios.

Supporting Quotes:
“The value of document search engines is widely understood. There’s another dimension of data that is largely untapped, however, and that is the information exchanged through spoken interactions. Aurix’s technology will help enable Avaya’s customers to quickly find the interactions that can impact their ability to attain high customer satisfaction and increase revenue generation. The analysis of these interactions can drive enhancements in processes that advance their business objectives.”
Brett Shockley, Senior Vice President, Corporate Development, Strategy, and Innovation, Avaya

“Voice interactions represent a vast resource of untapped knowledge. Aurix has focused on building easy-to-use solutions to extract this intelligence to create competitive advantage. The combination of Avaya Aura and Aurix’s speech analytics solutions offer a number of opportunities to create business and customer value that we look forward to accelerating through this acquisition. Our common approach of using an open architecture and focusing on the user experience makes this a good fit for both of us.”
Peter Rogers, CEO, Aurix

“Avaya is bringing a robust set of analytic tools into its mainstream products that will add an important component to the quality of service that Avaya delivers to their enterprise customers and to their customers in turn.”
Dan Miller, Senior Analyst, Opus Research

Tags: Avaya, Aurix, Avaya Aura, unified communications, contact center, customer service, collaboration, audio search engine, speech analytics, audio data mining

About Avaya:
Avaya is a global provider of business collaboration and communications solutions, providing unified communications, contact centers, data solutions and related services to companies of all sizes around the world.

About Aurix:
Aurix is a global provider of phonetic speech search and analytics technology. Working with a network of technology partners, service delivery professionals and resellers, Aurix provides solutions that help improve efficiency and generate business intelligence.

Certain statements contained in this press release are forward-looking statements. These statements may be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “continue,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “might,” “plan,” “potential,” “predict,” “should” or “will” or other similar terminology. We have based these forward-looking statements on our current expectations, assumptions, estimates and projections. While we believe these expectations, assumptions, estimates and projections are reasonable, such forward looking statements are only predictions and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond our control. These and other important factors may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. For a list and description of such risks and uncertainties, please refer to Avaya’s filings with the SEC that are available at www.sec.gov . Avaya disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

Siri, did Apple buy Nuance’s silence?

First, RIP Steve Jobs. The world will miss you dearly. It was only the day before his death that relatively new Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled the iPhone 4S.

So while many speculated and hoped for an iPhone 5 to be announced, it was only an iPhone 4S being the grand finale in the “Let’s Talk iPhone” event. Yet it was fitting that Apple chose that name for the event because the real star of the show was Siri, the new voice-capable assistant available exclusively on the iPhone 4S (thanks to its powerful dual-core A5 CPU).

The live Siri demo went without a hitch — Apple indeed risked a lot to publicly demonstrate its features right in front of journalists and bloggers. Although Siri’s still slapped with a “beta” sticker, it seemed solid enough during the demo.

The question on a lot of speech geeks’ minds is, of couse, does Siri use Nuance technology, considering all the rumors of an Apple/Nuance partnership? Even MG Siegler from TechCrunch wonders the same thing and based on the timing of an oddly worded Nuance press release, he seems to think so:

Hmm. Nuance seemed to be going out of their way to not say that they were powering the awesome new Siri feature of the iPhone 4S. In fact, it almost reads like a company that just got its hat handed to it by Apple, and wanted to give the “it’s great to see a massive company validate the space” statement.

So I decided to ask the representative directly: is Nuance powering the new Siri feature? The only thing said in response: “Apple licenses Nuance’s voice technology for use in some of its products.” Followed by, ”The company is not authorized to comment on specific capabilities or devices.”

Heh.

In other words, yes, Nuance is powering Siri. But Apple clearly struck a deal with Nuance which precludes them from talking about it. This is Apple technology, this is not about Nuance, is how I imagine Apple may put it. Apparently, Nuance is happy enough with Apple’s undoubtedly large check for this licensing agreement that they are willing to keep quiet.

(Side note: What’s also interesting from Siegler’s article is that Siri tried Vlingo first before settling on Nuance.)

In the past Apple hasn’t been shy to invite partners and developers on stage to toot horns, so why not Nuance in this case?

Avaya aims to harden IP solutions with Sipera acquisition

I saw Sipera Systems at the last Enterprise Connect and was intrigued by its market niche: UC and VOIP security. Enterprises are fast to jump on the UC and VOIP bandwagon, but oftentimes they neglect the security aspect of these deployments. Sipera, backed by renowned VCs Sequoia Capital and Star Ventures, was one of the kind to offer comprehensive security solutions with its SBC and UC appliances and software.

Now Sipera has joined the Avaya family. Obviously Avaya will leverage Sipera’s tech portfolio to improve its own UC and SIP products which shouldn’t be too hard since Sipera and Avaya have been close partners for a while now. What’ll be interesting to see is whether Avaya will still offer Sipera solutions for Cisco products.

Read the press release:

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Basking Ridge, NJ – Avaya today announced it has acquired Sipera, a worldwide provider of Unified Communications (UC) solutions, including Session Border Control (SBC) functionality and a range of UC security applications. Sipera will become a fully integrated part of Avaya.

Sipera strengthens Avaya’s UC portfolio with a set of fit-for-purpose, enterprise-class SBC capabilities for Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunking that offers customers and channel partners flexibility, security and value.  The company’s open, standards-based solutions work in both Avaya and non-Avaya networks. Combined with Avaya Aura®, Sipera’s solutions will provide customers with secure VoIP, SIP trunks, videoconferencing, cloud-based communications, instant messaging, and collaboration tools for workers in any location using any business or consumer device.

Sipera provides application-layer security that is intuitive, easy-to-manage and can lower the total cost of ownership of UC and Contact Center deployments. Security features include a patent-pending remote worker solution that helps deploy VPN-less solutions and advanced toll fraud protection.

Quotes:
“Sipera’s broad portfolio of open, enterprise-focused security technologies strongly align with our own Avaya Aura unified communications architecture. Together, we will help customers simplify deployment, management and maintenance of secure, multi-vendor UC and contact center environments while providing them with greater flexibility to support remote and mobile employees using the device that best suits their needs.”
Dr. Alan Baratz, Senior Vice President and President, Global Communications Solutions, Avaya

“Integration of our solutions with Avaya Aura is a significant milestone in the evolution of unified communications. With the combined offerings, users enjoy rich, responsive communication experiences that span multiple channels, applications, devices and networks. These communications incorporate security and compliance features that ensure mission-critical information and resources are safeguarded. Together, our solutions simplify and streamline deployment and management of enterprise UC, improving communications flexibility, accelerating user adoption, and maximizing return on investment.”
Jim Timmer, COO, Sipera

“Kelsey-Seybold Clinic is Houston’s first and longest standing Accountable Care Organization. Kelsey-Seybold is home to more than 370 physicians providing more than 50 medical specialties throughout a network of 20 Houston-area clinics.  Robust communication capabilities and security of our integrated voice and data solutions were key considerations in our selection of Sipera’s technology with Avaya’s contact center and unified communications solutions.  We are excited that this relationship is becoming a permanent one.”
Martin Littmann, Director – Information Technology, Kelsey-Seybold Clinic

Tags:
Unified communications, session border control, SIP trunking, security collaboration, business communications, Avaya Aura, Session Manager

About Avaya:
Avaya is a global provider of business collaboration and communications solutions, providing unified communications, contact centers, data solutions and related services to companies of all sizes around the world.

Certain statements contained in this press release are forward-looking statements. These statements may be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “continue,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “might,” “plan,” “potential,” “predict,” “should” or “will” or other similar terminology. We have based these forward-looking statements on our current expectations, assumptions, estimates and projections. While we believe these expectations, assumptions, estimates and projections are reasonable, such forward looking statements are only predictions and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond our control. These and other important factors may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. For a list and description of such risks and uncertainties, please refer to Avaya’s filings with the SEC that are available at www.sec.gov. Avaya disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

Media Inquiries:
Deb Kline
908-953-6179
klined@avaya.com