Avaya Inc. is looking to drive up expertise levels in its channel partner network.
The networking company has introduced changes to its main Connect Channel Partner program to advance solution provider skills and expertise with Avaya Collaboration technologies. The two main areas of focus with these program changes are to improve the overall customer experience and to teach solution providers to solve business problems.
These changes include revisions to the requirements for achieving Silver, Gold and Platinum level status and the introduction of six new Solution Experts designations: enterprise unified communications and contact centre, mid-market unified communications and contact centre, networking and video.
To achieve the Solution Expert designation in any one of these areas, channel partners need to acquire credentials in sales and design, achieve certain revenue thresholds as proof of their experience, and demonstrate customer satisfaction. The Silver, Gold and Platinum level status will be determined based on the number of Solution Expert designations achieved by each partner company.
Jeff Wiener, president of Toronto-based solution provider Digitcom, said these changes are promising but he hopes the new commitment levels won’t be too onerous, both in time and in process. Digitcom is a voice and data communications solution provider with offices in Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary and Vancouver.
“Overall, I do understand why Avaya is going in this direction; they want to sell more hardware outside their core competency of voice and are trying to encourage their dealers to view Avaya as more than a voice only company,” Wiener said.
According to the company, the changes to the program should make it easier for channel partners to achieve a higher level status for their chosen business model and to distinguish themselves based on their expertise. The program will now support both capex and opex sales models, allowing channel partners to support on-premise solutions, cloud and hybrid cloud models.
Wiener added that Avaya products such as video, switching and SBC are the ones that are outside the company’s core competency and suspects channel adoption of these lines are slow.
“If Avaya ends up forcing the dealer to pick up certifications and sales targets on products the dealer wasn’t otherwise selling just to maintain cert levels, and the dealer community in the end adopts these new products, then it will be a win-win. If, on the other hand, the dealers get frustrated by an otherwise unattainable target, and lose their certification levels as a result, you will, of course, see some backlash,” he said.
Richard Steranka, vice-president of worldwide channels for Avaya, said business challenges require the expertise of a trusted partner who understands how technology can be applied to achieve the desired business outcome. “It’s rare that a customer will require a single isolated product. The changes to Avaya Connect address what we as a vendor need to do to encourage our channel partners to develop the expertise to help ensure customer needs are met to the highest level of their satisfaction and reward them for doing so,” he said.
Another new wrinkle is that solution providers can now also take a full stack approach to the Avaya solution portfolio, or they can focus on a particular area such as networking or contact centre.
The program changes go into effect on October 1, 2014 with Avaya’s fiscal 2015, allowing partners a transition year during which they can earn their status levels based on current or new requirements — whichever works in their favour.