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David Sims - TMCnet CRM Alert Columnist[March 30, 2005]

Boston Red Sox Draft Avaya

By David Sims, TMCnet CRM Alert Columnist


No, “Avaya” isn’t some hot prospect from the Dominican Republic, it’s the way the World Series Champion Boston Red Sox – still can’t get used to writing that – will handle its communications for road trips this year.

Last April the Red Sox chose Avaya Inc., a provider of communications products and services for businesses to improve their fan customer service and communications capabilities with IP telephony and contact center tools. Carousel Industries, a Platinum-certified Avaya BusinessPartner, provided the stuff to the Red Sox.

Hacking through last year’s press release’s groaners and strained baseball jargon (“… new skills-based routing technology fielding each call to an ideally matched agent's glove…” “…communications features fly high over the fence…”) this reporter pieced together that last year the Avaya products would travel with the team to scouting locations, spring training and away games, much as they’re announcing again this year.

Last year, according to the news release, “during spring training, Avaya IP Softphone provided staff members with all the calls and features of their Boston-based business phones through their laptop computers in Fort Myers, Fla. Staff members received and made calls, used typical features such as conference, hold and transfer from their training camp and hotel rooms just as if they were in their Fenway Park offices.”

This year when the World Series Champion Boston Red Sox – here, Yankee fans, let me repeat that: WORLD SERIES CHAMPION BOSTON RED SOX – headed south for spring training to prepare to defend their World Series Championship, Avaya went along as well. The Red Sox have added a communication gateway in Ft. Myers, Florida this year to deliver the same converged voice and data capabilities that have transformed its operations in Boston to the players, managers and operations staff who travel to spring training.

Players and staff access the same calling features they have at Fenway, just as if they were in the office. Should the connection between Boston and Ft. Myers fail for any reason, the spring training site is able to continue to operate on its own, without interruption.

The Red Sox won the World Series last year over the St. Louis Cardinals after an epic victory in the American League pennant over the New York Yankees, who became the first team in baseball history to blow a 3-0 lead in a postseason series. The, ahem, first team ever to choke a 3-0 lead.

That the Red Sox use Avaya and the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals do not is a fact not lost on Avaya publicity officials, who aren’t publicly claiming a connection, but who are not exactly discouraging such speculation.

Even the team's global scouting staff is using IP telephony when on the road. An Avaya Softphone application allows them to use their laptop PCs to make and receive phone calls and stay in touch with management, colleagues and even family members. As a result, the team has eliminated thousands of dollars – heck, maybe even enough to pay for one inning of Curt Schilling’s time – in toll charges for calls made from hotels and remote offices, routing voice traffic over its own private network instead.

In addition to supporting remote and traveling staff members, the Red Sox are using their Avaya network to manage what team officials describes as the "controlled chaos" of a small city springing to life each game day. That includes delivering greatly improved voice clarity to calls made to the Fenway Park bullpen. Even managers of opposing teams have given the organization accolades since they now can hear instructions over the roar of loyal Boston fans, so it’s a mixed blessing.

The Red Sox also have made fundamental changes in how they deliver communications to the hordes of media during each game. By providing IP connectivity to reporters over the Fenway network and eliminating the need for the local phone company to provision hundreds of individual lines, the team has wiped more than $40,000 in annual costs off the books, money which can go towards Johnny Damon’s hair care professional this year.

Have we mentioned that the Red Sox beat the New York Yankees to get to the World Series this year, and that the Yankees are the first team in the history of the universe to choke after leading 3-0 in a pennant series? Just wanted to be sure.


David Sims is contributing editor and CRM Alert columnist for TMCnet.

To discover how contact centers can save money and increase productivity by making the switch to IP Telephony, be sure to attend TMC's IP Contact Center Summit May 24-26, 2005, in Dallas, Texas.


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