Avaya’s new channel chief outlines his priorities

Before Jeremy Butt joined Avaya the position of vice-president of worldwide channels did not exist within the company.

In the new role Avaya recently introduced, Butt says he wants to establish more of a cohesive channel partner program, improve the company’s communication methods with its partners, and leverage off of what Avaya already has both from a corporate and partner perspective.

Prior to joining Avaya, Butt, who resides in the United Kingdom, held the same position as vice-president of worldwide channels for Motorola‘s enterprise mobility business. When he joined Motorola back in 2003, Butt said the company’s channel was fairly fragmented. After being appointed to a global role, he said his job was to get the company’s channel up and running correctly.

Butt also spent a number of years at Cisco Systems between 1997 and 2003 before moving over to Motorola. While at Cisco, Butt says he was in a sales capacity role where he was responsible for Cisco’s EMEA distribution and reseller business. Charles Giancarlo, who was appointed Avaya’s interim CEO and president earlier this month, also came from a Cisco background and was the company’s former chief development officer.

When asked if it’s a coincidence to see two former Cisco executives now in Avaya roles, Butt said there’s no direct connection that he sees.

“I did know Charlie from Cisco, but I wouldn’t make that direct connection,” Butt said. “For me, I was able to move Motorola, which later purchased Symbol Technologies (in 2006) from a low channel-centricity company to a high channel-centricity company. That was the kind of experience that Avaya was after. Avaya has a good name and reputation in the marketplace and I saw a channel that has the potential to be further developed. I was asked to take a look at this further, which is why I’ve joined.”

Still new to the job at Avaya, Butt said he will still be based in the UK. However, he expects about half of his time will also be spent in North America. He has not yet had a chance to meet all of the country leads, however Butt says he will get pretty close with all of Avaya’s country and channel leads around the world. His first priority as Avaya’s vice-president of worldwide channels is to conduct an audit to see what and who Avaya’s channel partners and people are, in addition to evaluating what the market conditions are like in each country.

“I think I’ll have a reasonable idea in the next 90 days or so (to complete this assessment),” Butt said. “What’s important is to have a channel program that’s cohesive around the world. That lets you make more investment in your program because you don’t have to invest in multiple ones. It’s important this looks the same around the world so our partners can take Avaya solutions and deploy them seamlessly around the world.”

Another priority for Butt is to improve how Avaya communicates with its partner community. Any communication coming out from Avaya needs to be relevant, timely and non-intrusive, he said.

“It’s all about making life easier for the channel and us,” Butt says. “There are manual and automated ways to do this and I need to figure out the best way to do this.”

In order to grow a business, Butt says fundamentally, there are two ways to make this happen, either get partners to sell more solutions, or get more partners.

“You want to work with partners you’ve already got because you have a relationship with them and they know you and you know them,” he said. “Before we go out looking for new partners, I want to take a look at what we have before finding more. There’s always growth to be had from what you’ve already got. Our task is to increase the amount of business that goes through the channel.”

While Butt says he’s not looking to throw Avaya’s entire direct business over to the channel, he said there will be some that are transitioned to the channel, where both Avaya and its partners will have mutual obligations.

“Some of our direct business will transition over to the channel, but we also expect the channel to bring some business to us,” Butt said. “I believe the growth is there for us and the channel and I’m looking forward to growing that.”

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Maxine Cheung
Maxine Cheung
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