Clouds Improved the Forecast: Avaya Partner Summit 2015
Feb 09, 2015
Getting to hear first hand from those in the sales trenches – the partners – is always a treat, made even better by getting to hear from them in Cancun, Mexico. Last week I had the pleasure of attending Avaya’s annual partner conference as the company detailed its product plans, recent successes and new strategy around Engagement. This was a great follow-on to the event industry analysts attended in December on the ‘Era of Engagement ‘, because it’s one thing to hear a vendor strategy and another to see how its conveyed to the field.
As Gary Barnett, SVP & EVP of the renamed Engagement Solutions group outlined, Avaya is communication-enabling the Engagement Experience, and that this goes beyond just customer engagement, but instead encompasses customers and the entire organization. Avaya defines this experience as a combination of Customer Engagement and Team Engagement; making use and adding onto unified communication and collaboration solutions for team, and Avaya’s customer experience and contact center capabilities for the customer, with of course, some crossover.
Of particular interest to partners was the addition of reusable snap-ins to the Avaya Engagement Platform, which allows partners to create their own apps for customers. Pierre-Paul Allard, Senior VP Worldwide Sales & President Global Field Operations addressed this in his keynote, speaking on how it’s not business as usual anymore. It is about outcomes and Customer Experience. So, providing the tools for partners to create the outcomes that their customers want is essential. To this end, Avaya expects to amass a collection of “really cool Lego building blocks” that are either Avaya built, partner built, or through developers, on their own or by taking advantage of the AvayaLive Collaboratory that was announced over a year ago. The Collaboratory allows developers to build and test applications on a virtual instance of the Avaya Engagement platform, rendering them automatically scalable, available, secure and cloud-ready.
One breath of fresh air was Avaya’s focus on the cloud, which was a long time coming. In fact, Joe Manuele, VP of Global SP/SI Alliances and Cloud, said, “People think that Avaya was late to the cloud, but we got to learn from the mistakes of our competitors”. They must be doing something right, as Avaya now offers Avaya branded, Avaya-powered and private cloud offerings, and in fact Joe said that they now have 500 customers, three million ports and $185B in total cloud contract value. Not too shabby.
Indeed, during the event Avaya brought Ajay Patel, vice president, Application Services, vCloud Air, from VMware on stage to announce to the partners the availability of the first enterprise-class hybrid cloud services for customer and team engagement. This software-as-a-service offering makes use of the VMware vCloud Air platform to enable seamless bridging between private and public clouds. According to the press release, this partnership is targeted at three groups:
- “Enacting a phased migration to a public cloud model while still leveraging investments in solutions they have on-premises
- Maintaining a mixed environment with some applications delivered via public cloud while others are kept in a private cloud or on their premises
- Expanding existing operations into new markets to support new facilities”.
Finally, a partner event wouldn’t be complete without an awards dinner. This year the top honor for midmarket partner of the year went to Carousel Industries; a systems integrator and consulting firm based in the US, and the first to sign up for the VMware SaaS offering. Other awards included:
Midmarket (Americas International): 6Telecom (Canada)
Support Services (U.S.): NACR
Support Services (Americas International): TELMEX (Mexico)
Services Innovation (U.S.): Integration Partners Corporation
Services Innovation (Americas International): Alestra (Mexico)
Networking (U.S.): Integration Partners Corp.
Networking (Americas International): Ikusi (Mexico)
In all, it was refreshing to hear directly from the partners. Most of those I spoke with liked the changes that Avaya has been going through, from the day to day details that make their jobs as partners easier, to the changes in the strategy and portfolio, particularly in the mid-market and cloud.
Nancy Jamison is a Principal Analyst within Customer Contact within the Digital Transformation group at Frost & Sullivan. She covers all aspects of customer contact including cloud and premise-based systems and applications in the core areas of inbound/outbound routing, IVR, Workforce Optimization, and recording and analytics, with a particular focus on peripheral and emerging areas that impact the Customer Experience. These include speech technologies, omni-channel customer care, Big Data, digital marketing, Back Office Workforce Optimization, and Support Interaction Optimization.