Interview: Avaya’s Ahmad Dorra outlines how they are leveraging Gen AI to enhance their CX offering

CNME Editor Mark Forker spoke to Ahmad Dorra, CX Solutions Lead – Middle East, Africa & Turkey at Avaya, to learn more about how they are leveraging Gen AI to enhance their CX offering, the commonalties of challenges facing businesses embarking upon digital transformation – and the importance of the KSA marketplace for the global unified communications leader.

Ahmad Dorra is one of the region’s leading lights when it comes to customer experience.

Dorra has been with Avaya for 16 years, and has seen some changes during his time at the global CX leader, but there’s no doubting the fact that Avaya are enjoying something of a renaissance under the tutelage of CEO Alan Masarek.

CNME managed to catch-up with Dorra during LEAP, in an effort to better understand its strategic approach to the KSA marketplace.

Avaya’s theme at the event was all about Gen AI, and Dorra outlined how Avaya is helping its customers really harness the power of Gen AI to enhance the customer experiences they provide to their end-users.

“We’re excited to showcase our innovations here at LEAP. Even though the event is still only in its infancy, it’s undoubtedly one of the biggest technology conferences in the region alongside GITEX. Our theme at this year’s LEAP is all about Gen AI, and we are demonstrating our ability to enhance the CX delivered by our customers by leveraging the capabilities of Gen AI. However, it’s important to outline that we are allowing customers to have the autonomy to do it at their own pace. It’s a journey, and at Avaya, we want to build that strategy hand-in-hand with our customers, and in fact, I don’t like to call them customers, as I actually view them as partners. We listen to their needs, and then we work together to determine the best ways they can utilise these technologies, and infuse them in their overall DX and CX strategy,” said Dorra.

Dorra is cognisant of the hype surrounding Gen AI, but he stressed that a common trend amongst many enterprises he’s been speaking to was the lack of a coherent and robust AI strategy.

“When we talk about partnerships, we also mean it from the point of view that we adopt a consultative approach with our customers, and that’s exactly the stance we’ve taken with them in relation to Gen AI. There are definitely challenges around the technology such as data privacy, and the regulation that is needed around it to accelerate its adoption, so there are areas to iron out. However, one of the biggest challenges that we have encountered with our customers is the fact that many of our customer have not determined what their AI strategy is. We need to find out where they want to go, and we need to set the expectations, because as I stated earlier AI is a journey, it’s not a destination. It’s a journey for all of us, and we are learning all the time, it’s an evolution in the AI space, and we know it has the power to really transform industries,” said Dorra.

Dorra reiterated his belief that customers need to have autonomy and control in terms of AI, and highlighted the need for concrete use-cases.

“We believe that customers should decide on what are the best use-cases that will really serve their verticals, and once we establish that we can start building the journey. We’re proud that we are bringing a global experience when it comes to CX. However, Gen AI is a term, but what we need to do now is find the use-cases for the technology. What’s the problem facing your business, what challenges do you need to overcome? These are the questions that need to be asked, and again, once that is determined then you can start building use-cases around that. One of the biggest challenges previously when we discussed AI was the challenge around adoption, with many customers conceding that they were somewhat reluctant to adopt the technology,” said Dorra.

The sheer scale of the transformation underway across the KSA is unprecedented.

However, trying to temper the expectations of some clients can be challenge, but again as Dorra declared honest and transparency is always the best policy.

“It can be a challenge, but we know how to overcome it. I think as long as you’re able to explain to the customer why it’s a challenge, and it’s not that we don’t want to deliver it for them then they will be OK. If you can explain to them what will happen if we go a certain way then I think the customers in general will be fine. Our responsibility is to provide a solution that the customer will appreciate and will help them enhance the services they give to their own customers. I think if you are transparent and tell them if we go far too fast on this, and cut corners it will causes serious headaches then they will appreciate that in the long-term. It’s also not going to take years either, it’s just all about convincing them that the path undertaken is the right one for all parties in order to achieve the outcome that we all want. Our message and our mantra is – ‘Innovation without Disruption’ and what that translates into is ensuring that our customers innovate in the right way, so we avoid disruptions later on down the track,” said Dorra.

In terms of the commonality of challenges facing enterprises across the KSA regardless of industry verticals, Dorra conceded that integration was a sticking point for many businesses.

“There are quite a lot of commonalities in terms of the challenges that we see across different industry verticals, and one of them is integration. The integration with the backend systems can be very complex, some are related to legacy, whilst others are related to regulation. The banking industry for example is a heavily-regulated industry, so integration can be problematic to say the least. However, when it comes to the hospitality sector then it is totally different, so the requirements differ industry-to-industry, but integration with backend systems is often an issue for many enterprises that are undergoing digital transformation,” said Dorra.

Dorra concluded an excellent exchange by praising the benefits that LEAP provides as a platform for Avaya to showcase their excellence when it comes to CX, and said it also enabled them to see the direction the KSA are taking it when it comes to their vision for the future of the nation.

“First of all, it’s a pleasure to be at LEAP, and Avaya is fully committed to helping the KSA achieve the goals and aspirations set out in their Vision 2030 program. The sheer scale and speed of the transformation across the Kingdom is off the charts. Being present at LEAP provides great value to us, as it allows us to engage with our partners, and gives us a platform to demonstrate and showcase the solutions and services what we can bring to the KSA marketplace. We are going to continue to invest in the KSA as the opportunities here are huge, and at LEAP, you can see the direction the Saudi government is heading, and that can help us with our strategic roadmap going forward,” said Dorra.

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