Avaya Canada has a new channel chief whose priorities will include what she calls the three Cs: partner coverage, competency and capacity.
Mary Whittle is the new director of channels for Avaya’s Canadian operations based in Markham, Ont. She replaces Steve Bielawski, the former vice-president of channels for Avaya Canada, who left the company last December.
Whittle, has over 20 years of experience in the IT industry and has held positions with companies such as Ingram Micro and Motorola, in which she was the global director of channel development for four years. When asked why she moved to Avaya, Whittle said she felt it was a great opportunity.
“I’m a strong advocate for the channel because I’ve always worked with the channel,” she said. “I knew Avaya was looking to have a strong channel proposition and I felt I could provide that guiding light, so I contacted a couple of the folks that I knew there because I knew the opportunity was there.”
So far, Whittle said she’s been spending a lot of time talking with Avaya partners to see where they’d like their businesses to go this year. Her top three priorities for the channel community right now, she said, are made up of three Cs: coverage, competency and capacity.
“For coverage, we need to make sure we have enough partners covering the broad geography of Canada that have the ability to implement and support our product portfolio,” Whittle said. “We have weak coverage in some areas of Canada, for instance anywhere outside of any of the really big centres.”
While she’d like to beef up Avaya’s channel community further, Whittle said she’d like to make it clear that she’s not in the business of “adding a million or so partners just to get coverage everywhere.”
“We have to be judicious about this and be careful about who those partners are,” she explained. “We need to make sure partners have the capability of selling and installing our products.”
Being capable in this space is where Whittle’s competency focus comes in, and this requires an investment in training and equipment. In addition, Whittle said she’s doing capacity assessments with partners to ensure they have enough trained and capable employees in the field.
Currently, about 40 per cent of Avaya’s overall Canadian revenue flows through the channel. Whittle said Avaya has a corporate goal of moving that channel percentage up to 85 per cent within the next three years. In order to do this, she said the company will continue to be responsible for things such as demand creation and focusing its efforts on sending business through partners.
“We want to make sure both sides are successful so everybody wins,” Whittle said. “When this is done, success just follows. I’ve never seen a vendor who took on a channel-centric focus who didn’t exceed even their own expectations.”