Giving Machines a Voice with Custom Applications

By the Experts at Mitel


Building applications, whether for customers or internal use, has historically been a time- and money-intensive process. In this video from Mitel Next San Antonio, Mitel’s Jim Davies, VP of Vertical Initiatives, and Kati Mowat, Manager of Systems Engineering, demonstrate how Mitel’s next generation app platforms give your business the tools you need to develop apps overnight.

From the Video

Jim: Morning, everyone. So Kati and I are here today to show you what's cooking at Mitel labs. There's a common thread that was through a lot of the demos you've seen this morning. And that common thread is our next generation app platform. And so I want to spend a bit of time talking about what that platform is, and why it matters to everybody in this room.

That platform is made up of two pieces. Two significant pieces. One is a cloud optimization, optimized application platform. Not easily coming off the tongue but it's a really important thing. This is a real change in the broad industry. It's an application and development environment that was optimized to develop in cloud. It's largely been used in consumer apps, up until now. Apps like Netflix, Pinterest, Expedia.

And it's significant, because it offers a really big step in function and productivity. Probably the biggest one I've seen in my whole career, over 10 times. It's proven on a number of apps, on scaling and globalization, and it has a large development community. You couple that together with a whole bunch of Mitel assets. So by Mitel assets, we mean the PBXs, the applications, the phones that we all know and love. But what we've done, is we've abstracted that with a microservice abstraction layer. And that microservice abstraction layer makes these assets full cloud citizens.

On top of that, we put a platform that links it together, so now we can develop applications using the power of both of these bottoms. So what are we gonna do with all that power? What we're gonna do with that power, is we're gonna make apps. We're gonna make a lot of apps. And it's not just because making apps is fun, that we're gonna make a lot of them. We're making a lot of apps, because what we've found, and you heard it in the panel today, is the value of real-time communications is embedding it into work flows.

Making it relevant to way the people work today. Not going to some other application. So we're gonna build a whole series of segment applications, whether that's focused at verticals, or groups like field service.

So. What's coming down the pipe? Bluebirds coming down the pipe. And you're going, Bluebird. That doesn't sound like a Mitel app. And we're doing something a little bit different today than what we normally would do, we're showing you a little bit farther into our development process. And we don't have a public name for it. So you're seeing the R&D name, codename for our product. All our next generation apps are named after birds. And you say, well, why would we use Bluebird?

Well, the bluebird is the first little brave bird that comes North every spring. The first one. And it's a great harbinger of our big change to come. So we thought it was a great name for our first app. So what community did we choose to focus on first? We chose to focus on the small business segment in North America, in the Americas. And the reason we did that is we felt it was an under-served market.

So you look at all the UC applications that are out there, and as an industry, not just Mitel, but as an industry, the attach rate of UC in the low end of the market, in the SMB market is atrociously small; less than ten percent. So we said, hey, that is a great opportunity. And then we approached it in a different way around development. Because this is so important to focus at the communities, we've changed our development process.

A number of you were involved in this process over the first part of this year. Where we did focus groups with channel partners, dozens of them. Several dozen customers, where we progressively developed and mapped those use Cases. Much like what Nikki was saying what they had done for first responders.

So, what we do is we develop the application or mock up the application, we show it to customers. We get feedback. We do it again and again. And the net result is a very interesting app for a small business. And we want to give you a little bit of a sneak peak of both the process and what that application looks like.

(Video plays)

Voiceover: The way we communicate is changing. Our connected world is undergoing a digital transformation. Creating fundamental shifts in the way we work and live. With a strategy focused on innovative application development. Mitel is transforming our own business so we can meet your specific business communication needs. But the way we communicate is not one size fits all.

We are working closer and closer with our customers, and we understand that different businesses have very different business needs. That's why Mitel is changing the way we're building applications. We are breaking complex communication workflows into powerful and flexible building blocks. Enabling the development of customized business applications tailored to the way you work, and the way you connect.

And with our application platform open to customers, partners, and business app developers, we are making it simple to build the personalized communications experience your business needs. You get the exact functionality you need, without the complexity and cost of the things you don't. The possibilities are endless.

No matter the industry you're in, retail, healthcare, education, hospitality, any industry; Mitel is building applications that are specifically optimized for you. With easy-to-use intuitive tools that are natively integrated into your phone, our applications streamline and simplify the way you communicate. So you can connect faster, easier, and seamlessly.

In an era where your customer's experience can make or break your business, we want to enable you to communicate exactly the way you want to. Mitel is a company with one purpose and one vision: to provide seamless communication that transforms businesses. Your business.

Jim: Yeah pretty cool. And that application, that whole business under two clicks away. So everybody in your business, your customers, and so on, has been a real hit with the small business companies that we've talked to. In fact, since our last focus group, over half of them, over half of them, said they wanted to buy that app. In fact, they wanted to buy it right then. So we better get hurried up and get this done.

But, you know, so going forward all our apps are going to be built this way. There are some of you in this room that are going to be involved in Raven, which is our next app in terms of the focus groups that are kicking off on that space, and generating these applications focused our communities is a really significant opportunity for all of us. But it's really just a step in a much bigger journey. Mitel plans to release this platform, the same powerful microapps platform to all of you, to our customers, our channel partners.

So you can start creating value, yourselves. And by moving down this curve, so when you look at this graph, what it shows; as you reduce the effort to develop applications the size of community you can focus on gets smaller and smaller. And as we talked through various presentations today, we've laid out how focusing on smaller communities can bring higher value.

The move to microservices moves us quite a bit down this curve. What we're going to show you next is a visual way of coding. A zero-code development environment. Very, very powerful. So to bring this to life, Kati and I are going to do a live demo. So, the backstory here is, Kati and I got excited about this idea. 

We're a little bit down the road in the not too distant future, and we've got really excited about this idea of values getting closer and closer to the customer. So, we quit our jobs at Mitel.

Kati: Quit 'em.

Jim: And we start our own company.

Kati: We did.

Jim: And what did we call it?

Kati: Something with an awesome ring to it. Jim, Kat, and Associates.

Jim: Love it. So, Jim, Kat, and Associates, here in San Antonio. Focused at selling value to a whole range of different kinds of customers. And I've just been out to lunch with a local HVAC company, and I'm coming back and I want to talk to Kati about that opportunity.

Kati: Jim, welcome back.

Jim: Hi Kati.

Kati: How was your meeting with Cooltech?

Jim: It was great. A really great group of people. You know there a little bigger than I thought. You know, they have over 40 techs driving around in trucks.

Kati: Oh, I see them all over the city.

Jim: Yeah, yeah. You know, it's kinda what you expect, you know, guys in trucks, and they have equipment, and they're billing and forms and all that sort of stuff. But there were a couple things that were different, you know.

Kati: Okay.

Jim: I was surprised when I was talking to them how interested they were in ramping up new techs. It was a big issue. Apparently, they have a big turnover in techs. As the CEO said, you know I train these guys and then I lose a certain amount of them, and that whole ramp up is a real painful process.

Kati: Mhm, yeah must be hard for them.

Jim: Yeah, well there is a little other fact I committed that we're going to do a demo tomorrow with them and I'm going to show them how we can change their business.

Kati: Tomorrow? 24 hours?

Jim: Yeah.

Kati: Oh, oh, oh.

Jim: So, uh.

Kati: To transform their business?

Jim: Yeah. We're up for it.

Kati: Okay. (giggles)

Jim: So, how are we going to do that?

Kati: Well, I think the first thing I'm going to do is, how about we go check the Mitel catalog and see what kind of micro apps they might have already built for us.

Jim: Always a good place to start. Here we go. The Mitel outcome catalog. You know, these guys at Mitel, they're just brilliant. You know look at this thing. You got all these solutions right, and they're organized by things you just know. So, if I'm going to a school, I know I'm going to look at the education one.

Kati: That's right.

Jim: Right. If I'm going to wherever, to you know education, sales ...

Kati: Craft services ...

Jim: I've got a whole wonderful search thing. Hospitality, you can move all around.

Kati: Alright, alright.

Jim: Manufacturing.

Kati: Alright, you're killing my time here. Can you just go to the services tab right there, and see what's there.

Jim: Alright, alright. Here we go. Oh yeah, look at this. Look at this one. It even looks like an HVACs guy. Let's have a little closer look there. Alright look at this. All the information about the solution. Hey! This uses Pronto Forms. Isn't that the stuff we used with those guys last month?

Kati: Last month. Yep. It worked out really nicely.

Jim: That was those guys that turn paper forms into mobile forms. Yeah, that'll work for these guys for sure.

Kati: That's awesome.

Jim: Let's look at some of the value props and see if we've got a real good kicker in here. Okay, invoice reductions ...

Kati: Look, increase in service efficiency of new staff. Fifteen percent.

Jim: This looking good.

Kati: I think this might work for us.

Jim: Alright. Well, let's try to make this real.

Kati: Okay. Out of the way.

Jim: Yep, yep, yep.

Kati: Let me throw it into our own catalog for Jim, Kat, Co., and Associates.

Jim: Yeah gonna clone it. So, yeah move it out of the standard Mitel store, and in she comes.

Kati: Right. Into ours. Awesome. Look at all these other products that we've done.

Jim: Yeah.

Kati: We've done a lot of stuff with this.

Jim: There is a lot there.

Kati: Alright okay. Let's take a look. Let's see what kind of back-end things we might need, some pre-reqs. Okay, So we need the Mitel CloudLink demo environment. We've already got that setup.

Jim: Yep.

Kati: Pronto Forms is, as you said, that mobile forms application environment. That's awesome stuff. We've already got that from the last guy.

Jim: Yep!

Kati: Alright so I think we're ready to go here. But let's see what the actual workflow is going to do. You know I love this development environment because it's not like I'm a coder or anything, but I can look at this and see exactly what it's going to do, and it's easy for me to change if I need to. So I see here that the trigger to kick off this whole application is that a technician is going to use Pronto Forms to initiate a help request.

Jim: Yeah.

Kati: Then it's going to check the presence for available technicians, and if it finds an available tech, I can initiate a chat.

Jim: Alright. Let's run it.

Kati: Okay, awesome. Okay. Save. Publish. Alright. I'm going to grab my cellphone and launch my Pronto Forms application. So, the nice thing about the mobile application called Pronto Forms from another company, it's not a Mitel developed application, is that it takes all those paper based forms and clipboards, and everything that the technicians are currently using, and makes it an electronic application.

Jim: Cool. So the environment that you saw, that Kati was showing earlier is a real live environment. So when she was looking at those blocks, each one of those blocks are connected to microservices that are running back in our next-generation development environment.

Kati: So I love this mobile app. It lets me access mobile forms in the field. So if I was a technician, I just pick the inspection list for HVAC. Might be a newer technician. I need to tell people where I am, why I'm there, what time I'm there. So let's just acquire my location. I am not in Africa, but I am in San Antonio. Good stuff. Alright. Then I get this online questionnaire that I can ...

Jim: Excellent.

Kati: Answer questions. So heat exchanger: inspect for cracks and deterioration. Sure.

Jim: Good work Kati.

Kati: Thanks. Thanks I'm good at this. Burners. I'm going to take a picture. Alright, ladies and gentlemen smile for the camera. Nice. Okay. You are now included in my checklist summary. Alright a fan switch checked and adjusted.

Jim: Hmm, what's that?

Kati: I'm a new technician. I have no idea. I think I'm going to just the help key here, and see if I can get some help. So I did notice in the workflow that I could see a YouTube video. So, look at this. I can hit watch and do some self-help in the field.

Jim: Riveting.

Kati: That's not very helpful, and I'm kind of impatient. So, I think I'm going to reach out to my company experts. And this is what's kicking off our workflow. Ah, great so I see Jim Davies, you are available. Darren's not available. Bob's not available. Hey Rich, can you help me out? No.

Jim: Oh, pick me, pick me.

Kati: No we'll stick with Jim.

 (audience laughter)

Kati: Alright, so it's kicking off a help request to Jim, and a chat session. Oh it looks like it's using Bluebird in the background, Jim.

Jim: Yeah look at that I got a text sent right here to me. That's great, and you said you think it's using the Bluebird app. You know that's the Mitel small business app, and this is built on top of it?

Kati: That's right.

Jim: Well that's a great opportunity for it to come back, and do another upgrade for these guys and give them some more value. That is so cool. You know, this is great. I can see how you could text back and forth and this might work, but you know it kind of brings something to mind that came up over lunch. Which was the guys at Cooltech where saying that you know, when they have a junior tech, one of the really disruptive things is that they don't know what they're doing, they have to send a senior guy. And the senior guy is on another job. So the junior guy is waiting and they have to disrupt another job. So I don't know if they're going to really, like they physically send a guy there. I don't know if texts is going to cut it. Kati: Yeah, it is kind of a visual thing to work on.

Jim: Yes it is. Very complicated, Nothing's the same. So it's like ... Do you think we could do something like video.

Kati: Let's go check the workflow and see if it's one of the actions that's available to us.

Jim: Alright.

Kati: Alright.

Jim: Let's check 'er out.

Kati: Okay. So, if I come back to the PC, I look at my workflow here. I'm just going to get rid of the chat option, and then click on this little arrow, and see what kind of actions we have available. Oh! Look at them all.

Jim: Yeah, look at that. There's Alexa.  There's all sort of things in there.

Kati: Chat, LinkedIn, Twitter ...

Jim: But yeah video is what we want.

Kati: Yep.

Jim: There it is. That's the one.

Kati: Thanks you're a great backseat driver over there.

Jim: What would you do without me?

Kati: Alright. So there's our video. I save it. Publish it.

Jim: And.

Kati: Let's see if this works. This could be the quickest demo I've ever created. Okay, so, I'm just going to go right back into the form here, And look at the gas line. Is the leak checked from the furnace shut off valve to the burners?

Jim: And you don't know what you're doing, eh? Okay.

Kati: This is definitely one I want some help with. So I'm going to connect with you, and let's see.

Jim: Alright.

Kati: If this doesn't work out then they can watch us explode in real-time.

Jim: Yep. No, here we go. A link. Do I accept the video call from. Yeah I guess I will. Alright, so, now what we're going to do, is this should be a video I suppose.

Kati: Mhm, so look good everyone.

Jim: Hey. There I am.

Kati: There you are. You're looking a little pasty.

Jim: And there, thanks Kati, and there is everybody. That is amazing.

Kati: That's fantastic.

Jim: So you just changed the workflow. You created a new app.

Kati: I did.

Jim: Incredible.

Kati: And I didn't have to know what I was doing. It was awesome. So thank you Mitel for making it easy.

Jim: Thank you Kati.

 (audience applause)

Jim: Now I want to pick out a couple things from that, and obviously it was live. I think everybody got that feeling, in terms of how it was going. So live demo, and it's connected back in. So those changes are actually creating a new app real-time.

And the other thought I want to pull out is to think about the contrast with today's world. Imagine if you had that idea and you went back to one of the large manufacturing organizations, said you know what, I want to take this little innovation, I want to get it done. Think about how much work you would have to do to convince that company to do that. Think of the likelihood for an innovation like this was gonna happen: approaching zero. And even if you were successful convincing the company, you know, think how long it would take. A year. 18 months to get that innovation back in your hands. So think how much innovation and good ideas have got locked up by the way our business works.

Hundreds, hundreds, hundreds of ideas. Right, so what we're moving forward with this strategy is to unlock those ideas. To let that innovation find its way to market. Whether you're a customer developing new ideas, or whether you're a channel creating ideas for your customers.

So obviously we're really excited about this, what we're doing at Mitel labs. We're really cranked up. I think we're in the middle of something really big, and we really feel it. And then we're looking forward to going down this road, but it's not a journey that we can do on our own. If we want to realize the value of the power of this we need this room to come along with us. We need our customers, and our partners to be on that journey. So, every journey starts with a first step.

What's the first step on this one? I think in a lot of big changes in life it really comes down to people doesn't it. You know, you have people in your organizations that can help you make this change. What you need to do is find them, encourage them, give them the time and space, and magical stuff will happen. I know because that's what we did at Mitel, and you're seeing the results of it. It has worked really well for us. The second one is come and create with us. Mitel is gonna run a DX Bootcamp, and a DX Bootcamp is a place where you can bring your ideas, and Mitel will help you turn your first few ideas into your first few apps. It's a great first step on a journey. It's a great first step together.

Thanks very much.

 (audience applause)