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Avaya bets on value over volume

Company tries to put its networking and voice past behind it as it focuses on collaboration

CANCUN, MEXICO — Avaya is in transition and it wants its channel partners to follow suit.

After completing the Nortel integration, the networking vendor has set its sights on recruiting more channel partners, especially in its Americas International region, which is made up of Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America.

Avaya has increased investment dollars to both its channel and direct sales and is in full partner recruitment mode, executives said at the company’s annual partner conference.

Avaya’s senior vice-president of sales and marketing, Joel Hackney, didn’t reveal any specifics about the channel investment nor how many channel partners Avaya is looking for, but said the company wants to replace current partners who are unable to transition away from only selling voice solutions.

“We’re interested in recruiting new partners who are interested in bringing new value solutions in collaboration. Many are making this transition from voice to collaboration and we want to invest in them to help bring them to the new world of collaboration,” Hackney said.

In the year-plus since the integration of Nortel, Avaya has redefined itself as a collaboration company. Hackney told CDN that it’s no longer a phone or IT company.

“We’re now a technology company helping customers do faster collaboration and make better decisions. What was the purpose of the phone? It was to speed up collaboration. The only remaining competitive advantage left in business today is finding that idea from an employee, hearing it, getting a team together fast and make a decision on it. This is what we done on a base technological level,” Hackney said.

The direction will also mean channel program changes that will see channel partners rewarded more for delivering value-based solutions over straight volume selling.

“In the past if you sold a lot you’d get a favourable relationship and benefits from Avaya. Going forward, we’re changing that. Those who bring in the most value helping customers collaborate faster and smarter will have more financial rewards,” Hackney said.

Hackney was unable to provide any more specifics on these financial rewards, but CDN will be getting more details on this new development during this conference.

Avaya has also turned itself into a more channel friendly organizations because of the Nortel acquisition. John DiLullo, Avaya’s president of the Americas International, said that Avaya before Nortel had only 40 per cent channel sales; the rest was direct. With Nortel, Avaya now has between 75 to 80 per cent channel sales.

“We needed to be a more engaged with the channel,” he said.

In the SMB, Avaya will only conduct business through the channel, DiLullo added.

“The belief was that the channel used to be an extension of the manufacturer’s sales force. Now, the channel is an extension of the customer’s IT department and you need to have a lot of touch to have success in this market. We’re not looking back,” DiLullo said.

More on the Aurix Acquisition

Hackney had more information on Avaya’s recent acquisition of the U.K.-based Aurix, a vendor of speech analytics and audio data mining technology. The company will be part of new wholly-owned subsidiary of Avaya.

Hackney said speech recognition technology will be a key differentiator going forward in business especially in call centres. This acquisition will bring additional capabilities to Avaya’s collaboration products but will increase the process speeds by 24 times. “We’re a fit for purpose company and we’re driving collaboration, and speech is key technology of that. We needed to build on that,” he said.

Follow Paolo Del Nibletto on Twitter: @PaoloCDN.