During Avaya Canada‘s annual media and analyst day held yesterday at its Markham, Ont. office, company executives promised a more streamlined, solutions-focused and channel-centric company as the company aims to become the number one global supplier of enterprise communications systems.
Gerard Baglieri, vice-president and general manager of Avaya Canada, who took over for former Avaya Canada president Mario Belanger, said Avaya needs to better enable and empower its channel. Before joining Avaya, Baglieri held a leadership role for Motorola’s enterprise mobility business in South Asia.
“We need to make sure every one of our partners is enabled to do what we do,” Baglieri said. “That will enable us to scale. We, at Avaya, also need to be able to execute faster and must simplify our processes to help our ecosystem be more effective.”
Baglieri said Avaya was a company that did not always treat the channel consistently in the past, however, he said, he wants this to change. Avaya realizes its channel partners are an important route to market and the company’s feet-on-the-street, he says. That’s why the company is working to increase its awareness in the service provider space, he adds.
“We’re trying to get some mindshare (from partners) and getting them to understand that there’s a viable alternative to our competitor’s platforms,” Baglieri said. “We’re training our partners and making sure we have the right programs in place. We want to make sure our partners are aligned with us.”
About 55 per cent of Avaya Canada’s total revenue comes from its channel community says Todd Abbott, senior vice-president of field operations at Avaya Canada. The company’s goal is to increase that percentage to between 85 to 90 per cent within three-years, possibly even sooner.
“This is going to take some time,” he said. “We’ll be moving our direct customers to the channel by extending our coverage through our business partners. We’re going to touch customers as if it’s direct, but we’ll be partnering with (the channel) from a fulfillment perspective.”
Jon Arnold, principal analyst at J Arnold & Associates, said while this channel goal is an aggressive one, it is still feasible to execute within three years.
“You can get as much going through your channel as you want as long as you have the appropriate amount of programs and support for the channel,” he said.
Especially with numerous ex-Cisco executives such as Todd Abbott, Charles Giancarlo, Jeremy Butt and most recently, Kevin Kennedy joining the Avaya team, Arnold says Avaya’s now in a better position to compete against Cisco.
“Cisco is very good at the channel,” Arnold said. “Because they have so much Cisco blood and Charles Giancarlo is now at the company, I think they realize they have to rely on the channels to get broader into the SMB market.”
Arnold notes that most of the time, the channel is not won over by a vendor only having the best technologies and margins. Instead, he said, partners are won when vendors make themselves more transparent and make it easier to do business with them.
Abbott says after being purchased by venture capital companies, Silver Lake and TPG Capital last year, Avaya has now passed its one-year privatization mark.
“As a private company, you can make deeper investments and be more aggressive since you’re removing quarterly pressures,” Abbott said. “We’re re-tooling Avaya to (enable) the company to take on the competition so we can be the number one global provider of enterprise communications systems. We feel we’re well positioned in the market and are confident we can do this.”
In order to do this, Abbott outlines a three-fold strategy that the company will be executing on. This includes becoming the enterprise communications domain expert, focusing on the business user customer, ensuring there’s a “consistent look and feel” across all communications platforms, regardless whatever business the end-user is in, and delivering a high-touch, channel-centric go-to-market model.
The company is also working to keep a focus on its unified communications (UC) and Contact Center solutions, especially in the small to medium-sized business space. Especially in Canada, Abbott said this is a sweet spot of opportunity for both the company and its channel to gain more traction in the marketplace.
Arnold also said the company choosing to focus its efforts on UC and Contact Center solutions makes perfect business sense.
“That makes sense because (Avaya’s) staying true to their roots and these are businesses they know,” Arnold said.
Baglieri’s main advice to channel partners now, he says, is to become a subject matter expert in the market they’re trying to address in order to gain better traction. For those new to the UC space, he said partners should think about sitting down with IT professionals to really get a handle and better understanding of what business challenges are currently being faced.
With increased vendor resources, a laser-sharp focus and a commitment to the channel, Arnold says Avaya’s in good shape to forge on ahead in the industry.
“In North America, Avaya’s the number two player in the IP PBX space,” Arnold said. “If they ever had a shot of beating Cisco at their own game, it would be now,” he adds.