Getting Engaged in Cancun
Cancun is a great place to get engaged, and Avaya engaged with industry analysts and its partner community at the Avaya Executive Partner Forum. As guests at the partner event, a few analysts got to hear from Avaya execs about Avaya’s various cloud offerings, as well as the company’s focus on two types of engagement: Team Engagement and Customer Engagement (for more information, see my recent article). Team Engagement is the next step beyond unified communications and collaboration, and Customer Engagement focuses on the customer experience and related contact center capabilities. We also heard about the Avaya Engagement Platform, which uses reusable snap-ins to enable partners to create apps to provide the outcomes that customers are looking for. We heard several times that Avaya is now an application platform and a platform for application enablement, providing tools for partners to deliver solutions for their customers.
I had the opportunity to meet with several Avaya executives and partners, and did several video interviews.
Richard Steranka, VP Worldwide Partner Organization, laid out theme of the event - Beyond Business as Usual. He explained that companies need to go beyond business as usual, which requires a new level of engagement and an understanding of the customers’ businesses and their customers’ needs. In the following interview, Steranka discusses how Avaya is helping partners move to the cloud and Avaya’s various cloud offerings, as well as how Avaya can help partners get the skills they need in a cloud world.
Andy Cunningham, Avaya CMO, is a big part of Avaya’s recent transformation. During a discussion with Cunningham, she explained how Avaya is encouraging partners to “Serve, don’t sell. This means serving customers as clients rather than selling them phones.” She explained that when you have clients, you serve them to help them make better business decisions and get better outcomes. A solution isn’t a bundle of phones - it’s about outcomes.
In this video interview, Cunningham discusses how it’s “Avaya’s time” and how she’s helping Avaya be “cool.” She also discusses engagement and the outcomes that customers can achieve from Team Engagement and Customer Engagement.
We also heard from business partners, including Ajay Patel, VP of Vcloud for VMware, who discussed a new announcement from VMware and Avaya. Avaya Aura platform and application suite, which has already been virtualized on VMware, is now available on the VCloud Air, providing more options for customers. Patel discusses the benefits of this for customers and what it means for Avaya channel partners.
One of the best parts of the event was getting to chat with Avaya’s channel partners, many of who are regulars at the UCStrategies UC Summit. In this video interview, Paul Leatherman of Communication Resources Inc. (CRI), talks candidly about his takeaways from the event and what it means for partners like CRI. He discusses the cloud, Avaya’s cloud story, and what’s real today. Leatherman also gives his perspective on “engagement” and how it relates to UC.
At the conference, I enjoyed hearing from Pierre-Paul Allard, Senior VP Worldwide Sales & President Global Field Operations, who noted, “It’s not business as usual. Avaya has become a platform for application enablement. The value proposition today isn’t about UC delivered in a box, or about selling software as infrastructure, or maintenance releases that have to be renewed. It’s not about speeds and feeds – it’s about experiences and delivering business value and defining value to the client.“ This is what my colleagues at UCStrategies and I have been saying for years; it’s not about the technology, but rather it’s about the user experience and how these tools and technologies help workers and organizations achieve their business goals.
Allard noted that Avaya is “Moving to be completely outcome focused; solutions are outcomes in the customers’ terms.” He added that Avaya also has to be focused on the subscription model, warning the channel partners in the audience, “If cloud is not top of mind, you may not be in this room next year. It has to be the preferred route to market and we have to help you get there.”
It’s exciting to see the changes at Avaya, as the company moves from being technology and engineering focused to being outcomes focused and engaging with customers and partners. Most of the channel partners I spoke with are up for the challenge and are embracing outcome selling, along with the move to the cloud. Much of Avaya’s success is dependent on its partners, and Avaya needs to provide them with the tools to be successful as customers move to the cloud. As Allard rightly pointed out, “Execution is the key issue now.”