Avaya’s Chief Technology Strategist Chris McGugan Talks 3 Key Priorities, Teases Next-Gen Platform

Last month, Fifth Quadrant attended the Experience Avaya Asia Pacific event to learn more about how Avaya is improving CX and accelerating value co-creation for its stakeholders.

The event brought together executives, industry experts, thought leaders, customers and partners from throughout APAC and around the globe so that they could collaborate on how to create connected experiences that deliver business value.

On the sidelines of the conference, Fifth Quadrant sat down with Avaya’s Chief Technology Strategist Chris McGugan to hear more about the role that technology and innovation is playing in Avaya’s growth. McGugan outlined three key priorities and teased a ‘next-gen’ platform that he sees Avaya releasing within the next few years.

Chris McGugan - Experience Avaya SG 2019

Investing in and delivering a comprehensive cloud portfolio

McGugan said that continuing to support the evolution towards cloud is a key priority for Avaya, which is taking a flexible approach towards cloud migration depending on the size and requirements of a particular customer.

“Many of our customers are at different starting points relating to cloud technologies and some of them are ready and willing and wishing to go completely to a cloud solution,” he said. “In the middle of that is the fact that they may have data sovereignty issues or GDPR privacy concerns that are causing them to pause.”

Those customers range anywhere from large enterprises with a couple of hundred thousand seats, all the way down to small medium enterprises, according to McGugan.

“Even though there is a huge push towards cloud applications, the interesting thing about UC [unified communications] and the contact centre is that there is so much customer data involved,” he added. “Really being able to maintain and control that really makes them think about or be careful about how they approach that progression towards cloud.”

As a result, McGugan said that Avaya has been focusing on the multi-pronged approach in which it can offer customers private, hybrid, or public cloud solutions.

"We do have offers across those various paradigms and we are going to evolve our entire suite of products to be more cloud-friendly as we go forward,” he said, adding that technological innovations by companies such as Google will help smooth that transition.

In addition, McGugan said that a “large portion” of Avaya’s investment dollars is going into the modernising the company’s Equinox and UC platforms in support of that evolution towards cloud.

Enabling customers to experience emerging technologies

“This has been an area that Avaya has continually focused on over the years and really it is about how we take an idea that starts out on paper and turn it into an innovation that’s really customer-focused,” he said.

In order to achieve this, Avaya has a subdivision called “emerging products and technologies” whose remit is to bring such ideas to life.

“In some cases, it might a custom one-off widget that may never see the light of day beyond a single client, or it may turn into something that we can package, recreate continuously innovate upon,” he said.

For example, the subdivision has produced things ranging from an agent desktop or a custom mobile desktop, all the way up into things that have become ultimately some of the company’s next-generation routing technologies.

“Our business rules engine, our contact store platform, our work assignment engine. All of these things came through that innovation engine,” he added.

McGugan said that he rotates engineers through the innovation team so that they can collaborate on rapidly bringing different solutions to market.

Innovating the core

When it comes to innovation, McGugan said that he spends about $150 million of Avaya’s budget on R and D for the core part of the company’s technology which allows the development of additional functionality, technology, cloud enablement for its main offering.

“As I think about the future of premise telephony, we’re investing in how to elevate that premise technology all the way out to the cloud edge,” he said.

McGugan said he thinks that in the next generation we will see a new Avaya platform that allows customers to experience their UC portfolio very differently by leveraging a combination of both premise tech and cloud tech.

McGugan gave the example of AWS, which is already offering both public and private computing application spaces and Red Hat, which has invested in technology such as OpenShift that allows you to migrate workloads between cloud and premise and even various cloud providers.

As technology continues to evolve over the next five years, McGugan predicts that we are going to see that line between premise and cloud blur even more.

“We’re following right along that particular line with everything that we are doing in our premise technology space so we can be ready when our clients determine when they want to change the way that they drive their UC infrastructure,” he said.


McGugan re-joined Avaya in a new role as Chief Technology Strategist last April. He has more than 25 years' experience in communications technology and in his previous tenure with Avaya was Vice President of Emerging Products and Technology, and of Contact Center Solutions and Marketing. To learn more, about Avaya, visit their website.

To find out more about how Fifth Quadrant can help your organisation understand emerging technologies and their impact on CX, contact us today.


Stefan Kostarelis

Written by Stefan Kostarelis

Stefan is the Content Manager at a Sydney-based investor relations firm, and a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Techly, Paste Magazine, Lost at E Minor and Tech Invest.

Topics: Customer experience contact centre CX Articles & Insights cloud solutions

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