Q&A: Avaya

Continuing our occasional series of Q&A sessions with leading suppliers to the education market, we recently sat down with NEAL McMAHON, Regional Sales Leader UK&I at Avaya, to hear about new trends in education technology and how Avaya can help the education sector address emerging technology challenges.

What’s changing when it comes to new technologies in education?

Remote learning is something that students, teachers, faculty, and staff are really starting to embrace. But unlike businesses that can apply security policies to their own workforce’s devices, the education sector does not have this option as Bring Your Own Device is the norm for further education students. Therefore, collaboration solutions with a high level of security are of paramount importance.

Schools, colleges, and universities are learning that the right digital tools can go a long way in helping navigate online educational environments when required. Digital communications – particularly cloud-based communications – are being adopted to support teacher and student practices from anywhere, anytime, on any device.

Are the changes all in the classroom?

The chance of a great digital experience is certainly not limited to the classroom. Avaya Cloud Office by RingCentral makes it possible to connect your entire institution with a single app. This means that admins, headteachers and IT, for instance, can keep in contact with everyone on campus without switching screens making it easy to meet with department heads, faculty and staff, students, parents or IT at any time, and from anywhere using a phone, PC or tablet. From an IT point of view, Avaya Cloud Office is easy to implement for all users without lengthy training and constant interface questions. In addition, compliance and security is built in.

Is the purchasing behaviour of schools, colleges and universities changing? How?

As with the market overall, we see a shift from CapEx based investments periodically to more services based, OpenX expenditures – which can present some budgeting challenges in the short term as education establishments make that transition. The appetite to move to a SaaS model though is clear, as are the numerous benefits. Within our own customer base, Avaya is seeing significant uptake of the overall Avaya OneCloud proposition to help this migration from on-premises to cloud at their own pace.

Are there any regulations or projects education providers should be aware of?

Data security is absolutely key and will become increasingly important as the education sector reviews the “freemium” solutions that may have acted as a “sticking plaster” during the initial need for remote learning. Just as GDPR is a key concern of the private sector, we will see an increased focus within the education sector and most likely further consolidation of services to limit the number of solutions that potentially have access to school and student data. All-in-one solutions that allow educational organisations to streamline data sharing and limit the number of online storage spaces within their networks will become increasingly desirable.

We enjoyed the John Wallis Academy customer story in last month’s edition. Does Avaya have other education customers?

We have an excellent customer base within the education sector from small schools and larger academy trusts, through to colleges and universities. To-date many of these customers experience benefits from the reliable solutions that our on-premises and private cloud portfolio provides and increasingly these establishments are now looking to move more of their services to the cloud. Traditional communications for schools are telephone and email but cloud based UCaaS is a secure and compliant way for schools to integrate multiple communications methods through a single cloud provider. For our customers, the Avaya OneCloud solutions provide the flexibility that they need.

What trends are on the horizon?

The evolution of teaching strategies is set to continue with an ongoing drive towards blended learning. For schools to deliver the best online learning experiences possible, they need to create and deliver memorable experiences, which can be done by assembling and combining different education apps and capabilities to achieve the outcomes a teacher and school need at any one time.

Furthermore, as we have seen in the corporate world, the increase of gamification in eLearning is set to continue to increase motivation and overall engagement. We know that, almost at a moment’s notice, students and teachers might find themselves collaborating remotely and therefore the ongoing adoption of secure, scalable solutions such as Avaya Cloud Office will continue to grow.

Why is the education sector of particular importance to Avaya?

In addition to our existing install base of customers in this sector, we noticed an increased “cry for help” at the beginning of lockdown restrictions in the UK. At that time, Avaya provided free-of-charge remote working licenses and free conferencing and collaboration to all existing customers and education establishments. The uptake of this offer was unprecedented across schools, academies and larger colleges and universities.

Avaya is totally focused on delivering experiences that matter – and in today’s education sector, that experience has to encompass students, parents and staff. Avaya’s passion to deliver this total experience ensures that we align to the most important facets and principles that are of paramount importance to the UK’s educations establishments.

To learn how your school, college or university can benefit from creating better communications experiences, visit https://www.avaya.com

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