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Avaya Aura Call Center Software Review

 

Software Technology Review

Avaya Aura Contact Center (AACC) 6.2 is built upon Avaya's Agile Communication Environment (ACE), which enables integration with other contact center technologies and software applications through Web services and service oriented architectures. AACC's close integration with Avaya's Aura platforms and Communication Server 1000 (CS1000) enables contact centers to better automate business processes and build more effective collaboration between agents, back line experts and supervisors.

AACC is not developed on a multi-tenant architecture leveraging a thin-client, browser based presentation layer, but instead resembles the more traditional client/server era applications. Avaya uses virtualization—both Microsoft Hyper V and VMware virtualization environments—to deliver end-to-end UC on a small-footprint platform and leverage a flexible SIP-enabled communications framework that supports messaging, conferencing, and centralized management. With virtualization, each capability operates the same as when running on its own server.

Avaya software configuration is very flexible. For example, agents can customize their desktops. Avaya one-X agent allows off-site agents to change their desktop view to scroll personal goals, motivational messages and performance objectives among other things. The Avaya Contact Center Control Manager permits centralized operational administration for Avaya Contact Center Applications (i.e. Avaya Aura Contact Center, Call Center Elite, etc.). This allows one-time configuration and centralized management for agents, skills, vector directory number, extensions, call flows, integrated voice response working hours, dynamic prompts and menu content.

System Integration Capabilities

The contact center software suite is developed pursuant to many popular open web and communications standards and programming languages in use today – Web Services/SOA, SIP/H.323, CCXML, VoiceXML, SMIL, Eclipse, Java, etc.

The Avaya Aura Contact Center uses SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) along with standard SOA and Web-services interfaces to provide maximum flexibility. The SIP protocol eliminates much of the difficulty associated with integrating or extending common call center communications architectures. The SIP-based framework supports relatively simple integration to implement functions such as inbound screen pops with proper context and information delivered to agents. The SIP based architecture also reduces the need for complex and time consuming CTI deployments.

A SIP architecture supports a cost-effective, flexible and scalable model for application, context and multimedia communication integration across the contact center software suite while SIP-enabled endpoints (phone, PC, node, smartphone, etc.) offer a range of information—such as presence, availability and the types of media available—that the contact center can use to select appropriate customer or incident treatment. Because Avaya has made customer interactions session-based, these interactions can move across channels and media while anchored within the session and without being disconnected or otherwise interrupted. The achieves a 'persistent conference' for customer service interactions—a step up from the point-to-point, single-media interactions of the past.

Standards-based Web services are also available to simplify integration between the contact center software and legacy or third party applications. For example, the Avaya Open Queue Web Service allows multiple media types to be routed into the contact center software, including social media data such as Facebook, Google+ or Twitter feeds. Another Web service integration is available with packaged integration to Salesforce.com, as well as other market leading CRM software systems. There are also services available for mobile CRM. Avaya Aura Contact Center software also offers single sign-on integration and authentication with Microsoft Active Directory.

The below Avaya Aura Contact Center components deliver application programming interfaces and SDK's that developers can use to integrate their contact center software solutions.

  • Contact Center Manager Server (CCMS)—is the main contact center component that enables intelligent routing capability for voice and multimedia interactions to route contacts to the designated agent. A scripting language supports variable-based call routing and treatment decisions based on combinations of real-time conditions.
  • Contact Center Manager Administration (CCMA)—is a browser-based tool that permits users to access administration tools on CCMS. This service uses Internet Explorer to connect to the contact center management tools, consoles, reports and real-time views.
  • Contact Center Multimedia (CCMM)—is a Microsoft Windows client/server multimedia contact center application that supports e-mail, Web and telephony communications capabilities provided by CCMS. This is a modular, software-only solution with modules for E-mail Manager with Click-to-Call, Multimedia Manager and Web Communications Manager.
  • Communication Control Toolkit (CCT)—provides interfaces that facilitate the development of third-party applications that take advantage of the control features provided by Avaya Aura Contact Center.

Software Customization Capabilities

The Orchestration Designer—an Eclipse-based, drag-and-drop environment—is graphical workflow tool which uses a relatively simple drag and drop interface to develop conditional or variables-based routing scripts. This business process automation tool is available for both Avaya Aura Contact Center and the more recently introduced Avaya Aura Experience Portal and useful for automating call flow, reducing the need for specialized agents, and aiding work assignment requirements for automated and assisted care environments. Avaya supports legacy text-based agent scripting, and scripts can be imported into the Orchestration Designer for increased automation.

The Orchestration Designer 6 automates routing and internal contact center software processes, integrates with other Avaya solutions such as Experience Portal, Voice Portal, and Proactive Outreach Manager, and also enables administrators or business analysts to extend to and integrate with external data sources, such as CRM applications or back office ERP systems.

While Avaya Aura Contact Center software is highly configurable, these capabilities don't extend to more extensible software customization. For example, Avaya does not yet offer a Platform as a Service (PaaS) type visual software customization tool which permits a business analyst the capability to truly customize the application software or create new objects or new applications from scratch without incurring source code changes—by effectively uploading modifications as layers of abstraction between data logic and application logic. This limitation can be significant. Without a PaaS type visual tool to permit software customization within the constructs of the application software and without modifying source code, customers may be forced to either live without modifications or incur source code changes with potential negative impacts such as impaired vendor support, increased system administration and complications with future software upgrades. Further, the lack of a PaaS type toolkit delays business partners and ISVs (independent software vendors) from developing third party add-on products in a similar manner, which explains why Avaya does not yet offer a viable online ecosystem of pre-integrated third party programs.

Hosting and Cloud Delivery

For contact center customers seeking to consume their contact center software from the cloud, Avaya offers hosting services. However in this sense, "hosting" is basically the outsourced management of an on-premise customer service software solution in a third party data center as opposed to more traditional software-as-a-service (SaaS) delivery. This type of hosting arrangement can off load IT labor for system management, however, does not deliver typical SaaS benefits such as removal of up-front capital expenditures for software and hardware, accelerated deployment (and time to value), on-demand scalability, automatic uploads of frequent (often seasonal) software upgrades, and a variable pricing model which can be dialed-up or dialed-down on demand.

Avaya's data centers are located in Tempe, Arizona; Omaha, Nebraska; and Raleigh, North Carolina. All Avaya data centers offer sophisticated physical and logical safeguards as well as multiple levels of power and telecom redundancy.

Avaya Service Level Agreements guarantee response to Priority Level One (Critical) and Two (Major) issues within 15 minutes. They also guarantee restored service to Priority Level One within four hours. Additionally, they pledge to completely resolve critical issues within four hours and major issues within 24. Unfortunately, the Avaya Service Level Agreement lacks many traditional customer safeguards and does not back up any of these assurances with refunds or financial credits.

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