Avaya’s Driving Force event took place in Madrid earlier this month and was attended by 330 representatives from 170 companies across 45 countries. Chief executive Charlie Giancarlo, who took over from Lou D’Ambrosio in June, outlined his plan to make Avaya the world’s number one communications firm following a private equity buyout and series of senior management changes.
He told attendees that his company would be taking a channel-centric approach and wanted to make it easier for partners to engage with the vendor. “Our goal is to be the number one supplier of business communications equipment on a global basis. It is very clear to us that we cannot do it without you,” he said. “We want to establish rules of engagement with the channel and reward loyal partners.”
He told resellers that Avaya planned to significantly reduce its number of products. He also revealed that the firm had trimmed 28 business units into just three: enterprise unified communications (UC), enterprise contact centre and SME.
Giancarlo also sung the praises of his company’s private equity backer
Silverlake, which bought the vendor out last October. “Silverlake focuses on
high-tech offerings. They are already some of the longest-term shareholders we
could have and it is a
long-term holding focused on restructuring the business for growth.”
Surveying the IP telephony market, Giancarlo picked out Avaya, Cisco, Nortel, Alcatel-Lucent, Siemens and NEC as the market’s dominant forces, with numerous smaller players operating on the periphery. He predicted that in a year, one of those six firms would no longer be a major force. Within several years, he claimed, the space would be defined by just two or three vendors.
“We have a number of very weak competitors in this space,” he said. “Some have been sold to other types of private equity shops. In other cases, there are organisations that are highly unprofitable.”
Another appointment is vice president of worldwide channels Jeremy Butt, who arrived from Motorola’s enterprise mobility business in June. He admitted that he had struggled to understand the intricacies of an over-complicated channel programme.
Butt also revealed that Avaya would be launching partner councils with a revolving line-up of 16 channel representatives who could discuss issues and strategies. Runa MacLeod, UK marketing director of Westcon Convergence, which won
Avaya’s international distributor of the year at the event, welcomed the move.
“Taking a consultative approach is a good thing,” she said. “But nothing has
changed yet and it has a lot of work to do.”
New Avaya president of EMEA, Michael Bayer, who joined in July, indicated he brought with him a strong channel
background. “I have always been a believer in divide and grow,” he said.
He unveiled plans to take no new contracts direct unless the customer requested it and the deal was signed off by an Avaya vice president.
The announcement prompted a round of applause from the audience. Tony Parish, managing director of Platinum Partner G3 Telecommunications, said: “I was expecting a dire conference like last year, but this was a breath of fresh air. We are seeing positive, fast-moving changes.”
Avaya UK’s channel sales director Darren Pattie claimed it had been a good year for the vendor’s UK operations and denied there had been any cuts to the direct sales force in this country. “We have had a very successful year in the channel,” he said.
“What delights me is not just the top line growth, but the complexity of the deals.”
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