Avaya Moving Beyond Red and Blue
There are few senior Nortel people around and fewer still Nortel partners who want to continue to support the Nortel embedded base. The challenge for Avaya is to help partners turn that Nortel Blue base Red.
During this week's Avaya Americas Partner Conference, the final formal session was an Executive Q&A panel. Before asking a question I commented, "This is perhaps the first Avaya meeting I've attended in years where there wasn't a lot of talk of 'Avaya heritage' or 'former Nortel.' Everyone has just been talking about Avaya."
Over the next 24 hours, I was surprised at the number of people, both Avaya and partners, who stopped me to discuss my comment--immediately after the session ended, in the elevator, on the shuttle to the airport, etc. Those who are familiar with my shy, retiring style know that I rarely pass up an opportunity to ask a question--there's always something I want to know. Which gives me fair basis to compare the reaction this time--and this level of reaction was unique.
Avaya people remarked that they realized my comment was true--there was no, "this product is for Nortel-heritage customers" or "this only works on Avaya Communications Manager." Upon reflection, there is one explanation for the move away from Red and Blue talk at this conference. Many of the key speakers at the event came to Avaya after the Nortel acquisition: Tom Mitchell, SVP, Go to Market; Karl Soderlund, VP Channel Sales for the Americas; Sandy Devine, VP, Avaya Professional Services; Mark Monday, VP Product Management for Collaboration Platforms. Another group of speakers was legacy Avaya: John DiLullo, VP Avaya Americas; Matt Booher, Corporate Treasurer; Barat Dickman, Sr. Director Channel Programs; Brett Shockley, SVP for Applications and Emerging Technologies. While there were certainly some former Nortel speakers, they were far outnumbered by former and new-to-Avaya.
After making the observation, I asked if Avaya could quantify in some way the success they are having selling Avaya applications, for example Avaya Aura Conferencing, in Communications Server 1000 (CS1K) environments. The answer was that the strategy is to move customers to the Avaya Aura platform. I must say I was more than a little surprised. I thought the strategy was to let customers stay on their existing platforms, be it Red or Blue, and add Avaya Aura Session Manager to gain advanced functionality.
The Executive Panel members went on to describe a specific promotion, Triple 7, being used to encourage the move to Avaya Aura--and they are seeing success, primarily in lower line sizes. Triple 7 partner incentives include: 70% off the purchase price from National Price List of Hardware and selected phones; 70% off the purchase price from National Price List of Software; 70% off MSRP selected companion Networking Hardware and Software.
Partners who stopped me also admitted that there was less talk of Red and Blue, but then went on to tell me that they were "originally Nortel." Yes, every partner who stopped me to discuss my comment was a former Nortel reseller. Are they concerned that Avaya's position is to move the Nortel base to Avaya Aura? No, they are not; quite the contrary. They want Avaya to give them even more aggressive offers to incent customers to move. They don't want to maintain legacy Meridian systems and do want to make money by replacing aging gear.
So if there is less talk of Red and Blue it's likely because there are few senior Nortel Blue people around and fewer still Nortel Blue partners who want to continue to support the Nortel embedded base. The challenge for Avaya is to help partners turn that Nortel Blue base Red. Before someone else's partner gets there.