#4 Newsmaker: Ross Pellizzari of Avaya Canada

Ross Pellizzari, managing director and president of Avaya Canada, says 2010 was a year of “success” for him and the company.

Pellizzari joined Avaya and stepped into his current role in May. Prior to this, Pellizzari was with IT solutions and services outsourcing provider Mastek Canada, where he was the general manager of Canadian operations and senior vice-president on the North American leadership team. Before Mastek, Pellizzari served as the vice-president of channel operations for Cisco Systems.

“2010 was about Avaya as a company going from public to private and getting in shape to take on new collaboration and a world of intelligent communications,” he said. “In the first quarter, we’re well on our way to growing from a revenue perspective and as a company because we’re growing more in our customers and partners’ minds.”

With the US$915 million acquisition of Nortel Networks’ enterprise solutions business last year, Avaya continued with the integration of the Nortel portfolio into its business this year.

The company announced its integration plans which included legacy Avaya and Nortel PBXs being able to interoperate with SIP-based VoIP gear thanks to Aura, Avaya’s extensible IP communications platform and also Nortel’s contact centre software would be further developed to incorporate all of the architectural features Avaya envisions for contact centres.

Pellizzari said the Nortel enterprise solutions business is now fully integrated within Avaya from an internal and go-to-market standpoint and the company’s now looking at making more improvements on its processes.

The company is also actively working towards its goal of bringing more business to its channel network through the launch of new programs and initiatives in support of partners. Avaya’s goal for its worldwide channel business is to surpass 80 per cent. The company is well on its way since it’s currently sitting at 73 per cent worldwide.

In February, the company launched Avaya Connect, a new global channel program for its partners which included new customer incentives and discounts that increase based on partner competency. Not long after, the company began integrating Nortel partners into it as well.

At Avaya’s annual partner conference held in Las Vegas in October, company executives spoke of a “New Avaya” and a new unified message.

“The messaging around the New Avaya is that we offer intelligent communications and fit-for-purpose innovative collaboration tools,” Pellizzari said. “We’re looking at how Aura and SIP will change collaboration as we know it.”

The idea behind the New Avaya is to make the company easier to do business with, Pellizzari explained.

“Our goal is to service our customers like they’ve never been serviced before,” he said. “This involves making our backend systems and process more efficient. This includes having a strong Canadian leadership team across all our lines of business and ensuring we have product and solution cross-training so that everyone’s up to speed. We’re also working on implementing our three-year strategic plan that we built over the summer to grow Avaya’s market presence.”

Avaya also introduced a lucrative channel offering for those partners who deliver growth results particularly on the company’s Flare and Aura SIP product lines. The program, which was announced at the partner conference, incents partners to grow quarter-over-quarter.

Under the new growth program, if a channel partner grows its Avaya business by $100 in the first quarter and $30 of that $100 is in new solutions, then in the second quarter the business jumps to $120, of which $50 is in new solutions, the channel partner will be paid on the difference in growth between the two quarters. This works out to $20, which translates to a margin earning of 10 per cent. This margin will then be doubled because the reseller was able to grow the business in new solutions.

In addition to the new growth program, Avaya also re-vamped its deal registration program for partners. Based on feedback from partners, Avaya realized it needed to increase the amount of margins partners received when they won new business. Under the old registration program, channel partners were only receiving five per cent margins. This has now been doubled to 10 per cent margins when partners win new business.It’s an interesting fact that Pellizzari isn’t the only ex-Cisco employee to join the ranks of Avaya. Kevin Kennedy is Avaya’s CEO and John DiLullo is vice-president for Avaya’s Americas International sales theatre.

In a previous interview with CDN, Pellizzari had a message for the overall IT community.

“I spent three years of 28 in the channel,” Pellizzari said. “A lot of people think my background is entirely channel and what they don’t know is that I also understand the go-to-market strategies at the end-user level too. From a channel perspective, you’ll continue to see customer-centric programs that help our channel partners, who in turn, help us. We’re striving for double-digit growth in and I don’t want to lose our position in the market. We also want to reward our employees and partners for doing innovative and game-changing things, whether that’s how they go work with a client or how they work with partners to go after the market. The bottom line is that you have to play fair but you also have to play to win.”

Pellizzari also gave a glimpse of what’s in store for Avaya as it pertains to its competitor, Cisco.

“You’ll see two companies battle in the UC space to be number one and number two,” he said. “One thing we all know is that if you want to compete, you want to be one or two and we plan to grow our market share and our presence in those markets. You’ll see more Avaya and more exciting news from us and we’ll continue to bring value and technologies to our clients.”

In 2011, Pellizzari said the channel can expect to see more activity from the company in the forms of “continuing to build a solid foundation, getting laser focused on the processes and procedures and getting out there, winning and sharing the New Avaya in the market.”

Follow Maxine Cheung on Twitter: @MaxineCheungCDN.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Maxine Cheung
Maxine Cheung
Staff Writer, Computer Dealer News

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