I was surprised to get an email on a Monday, requesting I deliver a keynote at the Avaya Engage event in Dubai the following Thursday and could I bee in Dubai in just 6 days. After clearing it with my family, I got a great rate on Emirates ($830 roundtrip!) and away I went. This event was different in that the attendees would be ~1,400 CxOs and I’d only have 20 minutes to cover my topics in a way that would make sense to this audience.
I got in on Sunday night but the conference did not begin until Monday at 3pm, so lucky for me, this conference was at the Atlantis, The Palm, where they are not only right on the ocean but also have a waterpark. Did I rehearse my new slides for Thursday? No, I hit the water slides:
The best one I rode that afternoon was the Leap of Faith. Here’s someone else’s video of the ride:
Then we had some great speakers with just Avaya and our Authorized Business Partners in the region. I even got to see an Avaya colleague/friend (but I was speaking on Thursday, not Tuesday as he tweeted):
— Andrew Maher (@serviceplease20) December 5, 2016
The next day started off with some very lively culture from the Emirates
We had great keynotes like this one from Nidal:
— andysteen (@andydances) December 6, 2016
as well as some analysts speaking on the industry
— Carl Knerr (@CarlKnerr) December 6, 2016
The next morning started off with a beautiful sunrise (notice the sun reflecting off the skyscrapers on the right) and more great sessions
— Carl Knerr (@CarlKnerr) December 7, 2016
— Carl Knerr (@CarlKnerr) December 7, 2016
— Evan Kirstel (@evankirstel) December 7, 2016
— Carl Knerr (@CarlKnerr) December 7, 2016
— Carl Knerr (@CarlKnerr) December 7, 2016
Then next morning was my chance on the big stage. Here is me mic’d up, before they opened the doors.
I’m happy to say my preparation paid off and the presentation went well. It was a really big screen behind me, 30 meters (100 feet) in 16×9 format with resolution of 6000x 1008.
— Evan Kirstel (@evankirstel) December 8, 2016
— Avaya MEA, IN & TK (@Avaya_MEA) December 8, 2016
A colleague recorded a good deal of the presentation and I’ve stitched the individual clips together here:
With that out of the way, I returned to the waterpark and found my new favorite slide, Poseidon’s Revenge. As the video below (not my video) shows, you start standing straight up and then the floor falls out from under you. You fall for a split second and then land in the tube and whip around, hitting 37mph. I liked it so much, I went ten times!
The aquaconda was pretty cool as well given its sheer size:
All in all a great trip, but I was, as always, happy to return to my family.
I’m lucky to live in a great city where we have a wonderful Recreation Department that runs a soccer league for pre-K through 2nd grade. They do a great job of encouraging fun with minimal seriousness. I’ve been coaching my own kids teams now for three years and as a coach, I’m encouraged to make having fun my number one priority. Soccer skills are second and we try not to even keep score. There are no goalies in this league and as the coach it is important to me that each player have an equal opportunity to play offense, defense, and take a break.
I looked online for mobile apps or documents to help me manage this on the field, but none do what I needed: equal playtime between offense, defense, and sitting out. No goalie and no assigned positions.
Instead, I created an Excel document that includes a variety of possible scenarios depending on the size of the team and the number of players the league is recommending playing at a time. I use it by:
- Having a “blank” copy of each relevant scenario on my clipboard before each game.
- Before the game starts, I count players and find the right sheet.
- Fill in the players’ names in the proper column using a pen
- Tell each player where they are for the first shift.
- We play ~ 5 mins between rotations
- I call out each player’s name and what their next role is in the new shift
- Use my pen to cross out the shift we just did so I don’t lose track of which shift we’re on.
I’m sharing the document here in case others would like to use this as well. All I ask is that if you find an error or have a suggestion for an improvement, please contact me using the contact information on this site so that I can update the document accordingly and re-publish here for everyone.
Please bookmark this post, not the actual file, as the filename of the file may change over time, but this page’s URL will remain the same.
The Excel document can be downloaded here.
I finally decided to add bluetooth to our 2006 Honda Odyssey minivan this weekend and I thought I’d document it here.
I purchased the BT45-HON3 from Amazon and it arrived the next day. I’ll admit that after I opened the box and realized that the instructions were, understandably, just about the device and nothing specific to my vehicle, I was a bit nervous. For example, I knew how to hook it up to the car’s radio, but not where or how. But I have YouTube, so no worries.
Above is how it started, so first I needed to take off the panel around the climate control section. Using a basic screwdriver inserted under the panel, I was able to pop it out. Here is a shot of it popped out off. Note, I had to put the emergency brake on and then use the key to pop it out of park to drive in order to get it around the shifter.
Next you need to unscrew the radio. The first two screws are obvious on the left and right of the bottom of the radio. But the third one is harder to see. It’s under the radio in the center. You’ll need a decently long screwdriver to get to it.
Once that is removed, you can simply remove the radio.
Once I pulled the radio out I pulled out the main radio jack, plugged in the new one from the BT device, and plugged the BT device cable back in its slot in the back of the radio.
I then ran the BT device’s audio cable down and out to where the brake pedal is for the time. At this point, I turned the radio back on, and following the guidance, I was able to pair my Android phone to the device and listened to music for a bit. Very rewarding.
So, then I clipped the microphone near the rear view mirror and started to run the connecting wire toward the driver’s side door, tucking it under the liner.
I then tucked the cable and hooked it up to the BT device, which I was able to easily just tuck up in the area above the brake pedal.
All in all, if you don’t count the time where I stopped working to admire the ability to listen to music, I’d say it took ~30 mins.
I’m excited to be traveling to Amsterdam this coming weekend to deliver two presentations on The Value of Avaya Support’s tools at our annual Partner Conference for EMEA partners. This is also what I’ll be blogging a lot about this month at http://www.avaya.com/blogs/archives/author/carl-knerr.
I’m a pretty well organized guy, so I like to have the conference’s full agenda in my calendar so I only need my phone’s calendar app to know where I’m headed to next during the week. I couldn’t find any existing calendar invites available, so I built my own. Given that this takes some time, I wanted to save other attendees the hassle, so below is a zip file full of .iCalendar formatted meeting invites for everything on the agenda.
Please try to make one of the following two presentations I’m delivering:
- The Business Justification behind Automated Alarming and Fault Resolution
- The Value of using SAL, SLA MonTM, and EXPERT SystemsSM; a Deep Dive
I hope to see many of you there.
I had the great pleasure of traveling to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Muscat a month ago for business. I was invited by some really enthusiastic Avayans to come and speak to Avayans, Business Partners, and Avaya customers about how to unlock the value in their Avaya support coverage. This is a topic I’ve been talking a lot about and my first of a 4-part blog series can be found here: http://bit.ly/1MU22tc.
I had a really good time, despite the heat. Yeah, let’s talk about the heat for a moment: 50° C (120° F) is pretty darn hot. So hot that your own breath feels like a cold breeze. Yeah, that was a surprise. And while I’m told that Dubai tends to be a dry heat, while I was there it was quite humid. But there is so much A/C everywhere (even in the subway system) that it wasn’t all that bad. The people and the architecture more than made up for it.
I was able to catch a direct flight out of Boston to Dubai on Emirates, but I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. Just days before the trip, my beautiful wife convinced me that we, and our four kids (6yrs old and younger) should go camping at the cape with our neighbors. We had a great time.
This gave me an excuse to take the Ferry from P-town to Boston which was a great ride.
So, yes, an amazingly comfortable flight to Dubai on Emirates
that left me rested and ready to see the city, both its old architecture
Their mall is famous as it has an aquarium, ice skating rink, and snow ski hill.
But the best sight-seeing was going up the tallest man made structure in the world, the #BurjKhalifa. On the 124th floor, you’re actually outside looking down at the city. When you go to the 125th floor, you’re at 456M (500 yards or a quarter mile) high.
I was impressed with the elevator. It takes only one minute to go from the 124th floor to ground. Check out this video I took on the way down.
Next was a quick dip in the Persian Gulf just down the beach from the Burj Al Arab.
I worked with a lot of great people during this week, who pretty much lived and breathed Avaya alongside me for a week. Check out the views from the Avaya office in Dubai.
We did manage to get some food and laughs in along the way.
The other cool thing about this trip was that two friends of mine happened to be in town on business as well. I met up with Peter, a Duke friend I hadn’t seen since 2002 for drinks, and then later that evening, I had dinner with this wonderful woman, Jenne, who I hadn’t seen since 1997.
A great trip and I think we were successful in convincing some customers and partners to take another look at our toolset, which felt great. I look forward to an excuse to head back out there again.
The following was originally posted at http://www.avaya.com/blogs/archives/2015/02/how-avaya-augments-the-work-of-its-support-engineers.html.
In late January, Microsoft announced a virtual reality project called HoloLens. The reviews of the prototypes have been positive, and I can see why: Virtual reality has been something geeks have been reading about, seeing in movies and TV shows, and dreaming about for years.
While virtual reality systems are not entirely new, what is different this time is that Microsoft is behind it.
While Microsoft may not be known for cutting edge “cool” technologies, they bring something new that may just drive adoption of VR like we’ve never seen before: The enterprise.
The demo of this technology even includes a Skype conversation that appears within the VR goggles and can be “pinned” in virtual space, allowing the wearer to look away as need be. The demo takes this use case even further, by using that video call to help someone do some home repairs. When I saw this, it quickly reminded me of this older video from BMW:
In this video, we watch a mechanic use similar VR goggles for diagnostic assistance in working on a BMW engine. These glasses give the mechanic information on exactly how to do each new step, including the tools and motions for successful completion. Not only does this allow for fast, uniform, and high-quality repairs, but it does so with reduced training of the mechanic, enabling the vendor to provider excellent customer service.
I’ve always found this vision inspiring in my daily work of improving how Avaya Support Engineers do their daily work. How can we build diagnostic tools that augment our engineers (and the engineers working for our certified business partners) by providing them the real-time information they need to quickly identify the root cause of a problem and implement a solution?
Given that most of our work is software, and not hardware, we don’t exactly need Microsoft’s HoloLens goggles, but the mental framework is the same.
Like Microsoft’s home repair example, we know that sometimes you need more than a written or video-based knowledge article; sometimes a fellow human is what you need.
As such, Avaya enabled audio- and video calling between our customers and our engineers as well as enabling our engineers to quickly video call each other to “swarm” around a customer issue. We’ve also built scripts that know what to check on our products and create a red/yellow/green dashboard report for the user so they can quickly scan for known configuration issues.
We’ve found that this not only speeds up the checks our engineers would have done anyway, but also gets them to look at things they might not have thought to.
What’s even faster than speeding up the work an engineer does? Automating the work entirely. We’ve invested years of effort in automating how we handle the alarms our products send, allowing us to handle 85 percent of alarms without any human interaction, drastically improving resolution times and CSAT.
What diagnostics tools do you use in your work? Any you would recommend others use for troubleshooting Avaya products? Or just for doing plumbing or other things we all get involved with from time to time? What do you wish was available to make troubleshooting faster and better?
The following was originally posted at http://www.avaya.com/blogs/archives/2015/02/the-5-reasons-why-i-joined-avaya-support-services.html
A couple months ago, I found myself around the family kitchen table attempting to explain to my wife why I was considering leaving my current role at Avaya for another. Between requests and “stories” from our three young children, I explained that I was considering joining the leadership team of our support organization as a strategy leader.
As I cut some food for my daughter and passed the ketchup to the boys (is there such a thing as too much ketchup?), I told my wife about how Avaya Support has gone through a huge evolution in the last couple of years, earned a lot of recognition, and are now looking to take their delivery to another level.
Although I would very much enjoy having you, oh beloved reader, at our family dinner table, alas, the logistics just do not allow for such wonderful things. While I cannot share some of my wife’s amazing cooking, I will share with you the reasons why I think Avaya Support will continue to be not only an industry-leader, but an innovator in delivering value to our clients.
Downtime is the enemy
We know that system outages are the worst thing that can happen to our clients, and as such, we have dedicated teams trained on restoring down systems as fast as possible. If that isn’t great enough, I’m really excited that they have begun to reach out to our clients when we know they are at risk.
For example, we know that having a recent backup allows restore times in 2.5 hours instead of 1.5 days. Given the industry average of $110,000 of cost to the customer for every hour of outage, this makes a huge difference to our clients. If a client doesn’t have a recent backup, we reach out and help them implement a backup strategy. These engineers are inspiring on how customer focused they are.
Death to Rework
Our support team hates rework and that’s why every time one of our wicked-smart engineers finds a new problem, she will document it and publish the solution tohttp://support.avaya.com instantly. As if that isn’t enough, we use our own Avaya technology,Avaya Automated Chat, to help our customers easily find what they are looking for.
In fact, our implementation of this technology, dubbed “Ava”, has become the face of Avaya. How cool is that? Even when Ava fails to find you a solution, she succeeds by putting you in touch with an Avaya engineer and passing that engineer your full history, so that you don’t have to start all over.
Not Just a Phone Company
As a Gen-X’er myself, I despise talking to customer support on the phone; and Avaya gets that. Not only do we work with customers over the phone, email, or online chat, but last year, they deployed a first-in-the-industry video chat option using our own products.
If you haven’t tried this yet, stop what you’re doing; and just check it out. Wicked cool stuff. Of course the hot topic is support via social media–something I’ve written on–and now you have an opportunity to see what @Avaya_Support can start doing.
Perhaps my most passionate topic over the years has been around diagnostics for Avaya products.
Avaya Support continues to raise the bar in the space of diagnostics. I get irritated when I see valuable time of our human experts being used to validate basic settings, gather log files, etc.
We’ve got really exciting technology that leverages our lessons learned from years of troubleshooting hundreds of thousands of customer systems and we embed that into tools that can solve product issues without an engineer; which means our customer gets an issue resolved in a matter of minutes.
I’m excited that we’re not resting on those laurels, but continuing to invest in improvements and all-new tools to keep satisfying our customers.
As a result, in 2014, 92% of our clients indicated that their overall support experience was excellent, very good, or good. Read that last sentence again. 92%! Isn’t that amazing!
When we look at Avaya’s Net Promoter Score, as an entire company, we were at 65 the last quarter (average of 50 over the last 4 quarters), putting us in best-in-class with Amazon and other companies and beating out companies like Cisco, Microsoft, and Shoretel. Read morehere.
Please don’t just take my word for the impact of the items above. In October 2014, I was proud to join other Avaya Client Services leaders in Las Vegas at the TSW 2014 Conference, hosted by TSIA. Avaya walked away with three awards for our efforts in Avaya Client Services, putting Avaya in TSIA’s STAR Awards Hall Of Fame.
As you may surmise from the above, I was convinced this was the right move for me and I’ve made the shift. As part of this new role, I plan on continuing to bring you stories from Avaya Support as a means to help our customers and partners derive as much value as possible out of their Avaya Support agreements.
*Based on internal metrics in 2014
Two days ago, on Twitter, this image came across my feed:
I posted it on Facebook thinking, Ha! Wouldn’t this be cool. Then, yesterday, I had a few hours to kill with the kids, so why not? We only had 2 feet of snow on the ground in my backyard, so it was no small feat to build up the walls. First, we had to locate the circle of stones that we use as a fire pit in the warm months. After that, we dug out around it, piling the snow up on the walls. Later, I got the snowlbower out and snowblowed in the yard, throwing the snow where the walls should be. Overnight, we got ~3″ of wet packing snow which was great today and I spent a couple more hours building up the walls and even making a built-in snow bench (the kids wanted this. Me? I’d rather sit in a dry chair.) It was wicked nice to spend the afternoon today sitting around the fire with the family in the sunlight, and pretending that the frigid cold wasn’t coming back tomorrow.
Relaxing after a long day of shoveling
The boys helping me; good shot of the built-in bench.
Overhead shot of the job.
Not sure what happened, but I seem to have taken zero pictures on the 26th, oh well. We cleared a bunch of property of small trees and brush, making an impressive burn pile.
On Tuesday, we focused on the same spot, doing a good deal more clearing and burning. It was very rewarding to see just how open and clean this area now is. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t like burning big bonfires of brush!
M continues to love getting time on the ATV or “four wheeler” was we call it. He will drive around with me sitting behind him to the point that he says his thumb hurts from holding the gas down!
T continues to not want to really drive, but does like me to take him for a fast drive. I am able to get him to drive through the gates as I open and close them for us.
Afterwards, Pops has me do some harrowing of the long drive way to the house, a drive on the farm, as well as a paddock and a chewed up part of a field. We do the harrowing with Pops’ very old tractor for some reason. The noise and exhaust prevent the kids from joining me, so it proved to be a nice hour of alone time.