I was one of the fortunate analysts from team Frost & Sullivan to attend Avaya Engage and its Industry Influencers in the beautiful city of Austin, Texas. In addition to acknowledging the warm hospitality of the entire Avaya group and its ecosystem community, I want to highlight my general thoughts on the Avaya journey and the event itself.
Over 2,600 user partners, executives, consultants, press and analysts attended a fully packed agenda of activities, including keynotes, presentations, panel discussions, and a large Avaya Engage Solutions Expo. Analysts also had access to presentations from key executives and one-to-one discussions about the various UCC and CC offerings from the company.
While the whole analyst community (including me) bombarded the Avaya team with multiple questions around the what´s, why´s, and how´s about the new announcements, commercial strategies, and strategic moves, I kept thinking about one aspect: how this company not only survived the hurricane of Chapter 11, but emerged from it in 11 exact months, and came through with an admirable myriad of commercial strategies and product/solution announcements in the midst of all of it. I particularly don’t know of any other enterprise communications and collaboration vendor that has managed such turbulence with visible success. Of course no one, not even the Avaya leadership team, denies that the fuselage has not been somehow impacted along the way. However, the company is to be admired for not only holding tight, but also for maintaining its focus despite the potential distractions. Accordingly, I’d like to recap Avaya’s achievements within the last 12 to 13 months:
First Half of CY 2018:
1.Announcement of UC Experience Everywhere with new collaboration and desktop offerings, including enhancements to Avaya Equinox and a series of new IP devices
2.Creation of Avaya Cloud with a mission on driving cloud products and services
3.Acquisition of Spoken Communications, offering CCaaS and AI-based customer experience management solutions
4.Launch of Cloud Master Agent program focused on accelerating sales of Avaya Cloud to small and midmarket businesses
5.Announcement of new Avaya Mobile Experience, a unique service that allows contact centers to reduce toll carrier costs, increase the accuracy of contextual information, and enhance the customer experience for mobile callers
6.Partnership with Afiniti, bringing the company’s Behavioral Pairing in the contact center space to efficiently match customers with the most appropriate agent
7.Launch of a new IP Office, including cloud unified communications with voice and video, meetings, team collaboration, and content sharing
8.Launch of a new Workforce Optimization Suite for contact centers with advancements in customer engagement and data privacy, including GDPR requirements
9.Announcement of a new Avaya Innovation Incubator with the aim of creating new disruptive solutions in the market
Second Half of CY 2018:
1.Investment in Cogito a vendor of AI for emotional intelligence that enables organizations to sense human behavior and guide call center agents to enhance productivity and customer experience
2.Extension of the company’s successful Loyalty2gether program enabling legacy PBX customers to move to newer capabilities with Avaya Aura and IP Office on-premises or in the cloud
3.Expansion of Avaya open SIP desktop devices for UCaaS providers to over 20 devices, under the Avaya Desktop Experience theme, including additional Avaya Vantage multimedia devices, the complete J100 Series IP phone portfolio, the H200 hospitality phone portfolio, the B100 conferencing speakers, and a new line of professional headsets
4.Announcement of a new online store including contact center and unified communications bundles, making it easier for SMB and mid-organizations to learn, shop, buy, and manage cloud solutions and services
5.Introduction of a new Device as a Service (DaaS) offering providing simplicity and affordability in upgrading cloud customers to the Avaya Desktop Experience
6.Unveiling of a new mission statement, tagline, and brand presence launching a refreshed look reflecting its own transformation and strategic vision in the future
January 2019 & Avaya Engage Announcements:
1.Enhancements to Avaya Edge Channel Program designed to improve Avaya partners’ ability to grow by stimulating sales of cloud solutions, leveraging a simplified incentive structure and more tailored benefits with an improved enablement model
2.Expansion of Avaya A.I. Connect ecosystem with new partners and partner offers
3.The announcement of a new private cloud delivery model, under the name OneCloud ReadyNow, for both UCaaS and CCaaS offerings allowing Avaya and its channel partners to provide easily repeatable solutions much more quickly than before
4.Announcement of a much more simplified branding architecture, based on input from customers and partners, under the solution naming “Avaya Intelligent Xperiences or Avaya IX” – encompassing the entire portfolio of solutions for Contact Center, Unified Communications and Collaboration, and mobility
5.Expansion of technology partnerships with Verint for workforce engagement management for cloud and Slack for allowing Avaya users place phone calls and initiate web conferences in Avaya Meetings (formerly Equinox) from within Slack.
6.Introduction of first integrated next generation location reporting solution for emergency response providing real-time information for devices and place that data into a national Next Generation 911 (NG911) repository, making the information readily available to first-responders
As one can tell, a lot of things have happened since Avaya emerged from chapter 11: a new board of directors; a new management team; a new publicly traded company; a new vision and branding; and a large quantity of product and service announcements.
As CEO Jim Chirico told us, one can either focus on the glass being half empty or half full, and, as Chirico, and taking into account the entire historical context, I can definitely see Avaya’s glass as half full and gradually filling with steady drops of water from all its tenacious team members.
At Avaya Engage the crowd really enjoyed the inspirational keynote speech of NFL legend Peyton Manning. Some of the phrases that stood out most from the keynote were: “I may not be the fastest, I may not move as smoothly, but no one was more prepared than I was”; “You either get better or you get worse every day”; “It’s not wanting to win that makes you a winner; its refusing to fail”. Manning also spoke about never surrendering and always do whatever is possible, until the very last moment, to revert the score and change the direction of the game. Only those that are really tenacious on what they desire, in spite of circumstances, are able to win. I personally believe that Avaya’s team is heading towards the right direction, following closely Manning’s philosophy. It has only been 13 months since the Chapter 11 emergence, and yet Avaya is achieving gigantic steps to win the confidence of not only its 139 million end users, but the overall industry. Yes, there have been some revenue declines, errors along the way, and other obstacles. However, nobody today can say that Avaya is not a fearless fighter that strikes back with a steady and visible path.