Newly publicly listed comms vendor Avaya has fired shots at competitors Cisco and Microsoft after listing on the New York Stock Exchange.
Avaya floated yesterday, with its strategy now coming under more scrutiny after a difficult 12 months of restructuring.
At a press briefing in the New York Stock Exchange, Avaya executives responded aggressively to claims that the vendor had fallen behind the likes of Cisco and Microsoft, with SVP Nikos Nikolopoulos questioning the pair's commitment to the voice market.
"We are the world's largest pure play; no one can [solely] do UC and CC [like us], and that's all we do," he said.
"You have Cisco and that's larger, but it's 10 per cent of their business and their other main business is something else, so it's not their focus.
"They've made acquisitions and they're trying to reconcile these acquisitions - look at their product offering -but they're in flux. This is all we do."
Newly appointed cloud boss Mercer Rowe, who joined from IBM last week to head up Avaya Cloud, said that Cisco and Microsoft have realised how difficult the voice market is to succeed in, after struggling to take advantage of the acquisitions they have made.
"Voice is hard and both of those companies have had their fits and starts," he said.
"Skype for Businesses was acquired, looked hot 10 years ago and now it's not so hot. It hasn't been innovated on and hasn't been invested in.
"Cisco has played around in the field, acquired Broadsoft, but it's not a big focus for them.
"I think both of them are realising that voice is hard and they don't have the service providers that you need and the strong install base."
Nikolopoulos said that this new-found aggression will transcend into Avaya's go-to-market strategy, with the vendor making a more conscious effort to go after new customers after relying too heavily on business generated by current customers in the past.
"We have been very defensive," he explained. "We have the world's largest install base - we have installed more UC systems than anyone else in the world over the last 15 years.
"A company often relies on that base; it doesn't look for new logos. Maybe we weren't as quick on the innovation because we could just rely on that massive base. If we take all of what we do, and pivot in a more competitive motion, it makes us sharper and makes us more innovative."
Cloud catch up
Avaya has in the past been accused of failing to innovate quickly enough when it comes to moving to the cloud, and was last year singled out by ShoreTel CEO Don Joos for falling behind others in the race to the cloud. UK MD Ioan MacRae hit back, saying that while others had gone to market with cloud products sooner, Avaya has taken its time to make the products right.
At the New York Stock Exchange, Rowe said that the timing of Avaya's cloud push has not damaged the vendor's chances of making an impact in the market, with the majority of enterprises not as desperate to move to the cloud as some might think.
"As we talk to our customers they're not rushing to cloud," he said. "What they're clambering for is cloud consumption models.
"What they're saying is ‘we want different ways to consume your products - we want as-a-service models and we want innovation on top of that'. For us, moving in the cloud direction is more about the consumption model, as well as a platform for innovation."
Alongside the focus on cloud, Avaya is plotting an assault on the SMB and mid-market spaces, after admittedly not paying enough attention to smaller targets.
It said that plan is to attack these smaller market segments through channel partners, with the vendor actively seeking new partners - particularly cloud specialists.
"This is an $85bn addressable market, but it's much less if you only focus on the enterprise," Nikolopoulos said.
"We do go down into the other segments but not in a concerted effort. We want a lot more new logos and that is where those are going to come and it's through that simplification.
"We have the technology but not everyone has these robust IT departments to understand what we're trying to sell them.
"The world is too fast and a lot of time people are making decisions as business owners not the IT department, so we have to make this consumable by the business owner. That is a core strategy going forward."
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