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Forget Chapter 11: 2017 will be Avaya’s best year yet, CEO says

Kevin Kennedy, Avaya CEO
Kevin Kennedy, president and CEO of Avaya, speaking at Avaya Engage in Las Vegas, Feb. 13-15.

LAS VEGAS – Despite filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and debt restructuring in January, Avaya executives are confident this will be the company’s best year yet.

President and CEO Kevin Kennedy pointed out that prospects of growth have “never looked better” in his keynote speech at Avaya’s Engage event in Las Vegas on Feb. 13,

“Our debt structure was architected pre-[2008] recession and it was no longer feasible,” Kennedy said. “We had to change the way customers perceived us and move to a business model of the future, so to start on that journey, we had to disassemble, reinvent ourselves, and reassemble.”

He said the company is transforming and will emerge stronger than ever thanks to the faith of Avaya customers and partners.

While speaking at Engage, Kennedy laid out Avaya’s digital transformation plan, which will involve investing heavily in cloud and continuing to move towards being a software-first company. By the end of 2017, he predicted that software and Avaya’s software-as a service (SaaS) offerings will account for 80 per cent of its yearly revenue.

Avaya is also banking on its three newest platforms, Breeze (application development), Oceana (call centre customer engagement tool) and Equinox (unified communications), doing well, in addition to a strong performance from Zang, its cloud communications branch.

Looking ahead

Going forward, Avaya is not worried, Kennedy stressed. While revenue is predicted to remain stable, chief marketing officer Morag Lucey told a group of press and analysts at Engage, the company has enough liquidity to remain fully operational, even in a worst-case scenario, for years to come.

Lucey broke down the company’s strategy for dealing with the Chapter 11 filing, explaining that since making the announcement on Jan. 17 and attending court on Feb. 8 to work through several motions, it’s been “business as usual.”

She said that Avaya doesn’t foresee any issues arising with what it has requested in terms of restructuring its debt, and while she couldn’t provide any further details, did mention that the company is aiming to have a completed restructuring plan ready by the end of March 2017. If all goes well, the process of Chapter 11 will be finished by the end of the summer months this year.

“We haven’t been put on hold by the bank and none of our motions have been contested, which is a good sign that they have confidence in the fact that we will come out strong on the other end,” Lucey explained. “Our goal is to get through the process as quickly as possible and maintain the core of Avaya – unified communications and customer experience.”