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What are Avaya’s Next Steps Heading into Engage?

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Sometimes, I get accused of ignoring the other major vendors, and it doesn’t help that at Enterprise Connect Brent Kelly and I will host a session on Microsoft and Cisco. In the vein of looking at the major vendors, it’s time to look at where Avaya is heading. When Avaya announced its relationship with RingCentral to provide Avaya Cloud Office as a UCaaS migration solution for its current IP Office base, it was both an astute and creative move for the company. I praised the strategic path in a series of No Jitter articles (see part one here) and indicated that the deal could solve all four strategic challenges Avaya faced at the end of 2019.
 
Now, I am heading to Avaya Engage in Phoenix, a location Dave Michels said was appropriate in this article for the Phoenix rising analogy. Michels predicted some announcements, but I think what is most important is to understand both the impact of any announcements and the clarity of the Avaya vision for the company, its customers, and channels going forward. As I leave for Phoenix, these are the questions that I will be looking for the Avaya team to clarify at the event.
 
A critical outcome of Engage is the clarity of path that Avaya proposes for each of its major product/market segments. These paths will impact each segments customers, as well as the Avaya channel partners that are serving that segment of the market. Here’s a look at the impact:
  • For IP Office customers, the path to Avaya Cloud Office (ACO) seems clear, but the triggers and drivers for when Avaya believes customers should migrate are not well defined. Also, the migration values that will advantage ACO in the marketplace will need clarity. Similarly, for Avaya channel partners weighing their cloud choices, clarity on Avaya ACO timing and migration advantages is critical.
  • For large enterprise telephony customers using Microsoft O365/Teams as their advanced UC (meetings - video, test, teams, sharing), the integration should be clearly defined. Based on surveys and analysis, the majority of these customers are moving to the O365/Teams environment and how that decision is integrated to the ongoing use of the Avaya platforms is critical. Conversely, for large customers using the current on-premises Avaya UC offers in video and collab, the cloud migration options need to be clarified. For the large CM/Aura customer base, Avaya will focus on a managed service offering for existing Communications Manager/Aura platform users, the advanced UCaaS capabilities for this path will require clarification. Will Avaya recommend O365/Teams, migration to ACO, or an alternative method for advanced UC services? For the associated Avaya channels for the large enterprise, clarity in migration timing, emerging managed service business models, and UC options choices require clarification.
  • For contact center customers, the clarity of both the short term and long-term vision is critical. The biggest issue is whether a change in underlying telephony technology impacts the use of the current contact centers. Currently, the large Elite contact center is tied to the underlying Communications Manager telephony platform. As customers consider their migrations and changes for other communications services, there needs to be clarity on how that will impact their contact centers. Longer term, Avaya’s vision of where they fit in the world of customer experience (CX) needs to be fleshed out. Now, as enterprises are covering the entire customer relationship, there is less need for human interaction management but increased importance integrating text, social media, bot, video, and other technologies. Understanding the vision of Avaya in this emerging market and their position for success will be important to all the organizations and Avaya in the rapidly changing world of UX.
After addressing the above, questions remain whether Avaya’s vision and recent market moves, including the RingCentral deal, can change the revenue and earnings path of the company. From an investor and stakeholder perspective, the key question is whether the focus of partnering for UCaaS can translate into growth and success for the company. To accomplish this, Avaya must migrate IP Office users to ACO, migrate CM/Aura customers to managed services, stem the churn out, and capture new value and growth in the contact center market. Hopefully, the clarity of vision and path for the customers and channels will provide an indication of the probability of overall business and financial success of the next stage of Avaya. Whether that is a phoenix or something else remains to be seen.

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In addition to co-hosting the "Microsoft vs. Cisco 2020: The Platform Transformation" session at Enterprise Connect, Edholm will also be presenting on how to eliminate/reduce PSTN/telephone expenses. Make sure to check them both out at this year's event! Registration is now open, and use code NOJITTER to save $200 off the current rate! Register today! 

Comments

Phil - Good to see you at Engage and I think Avaya is not only still in the game with it's announcements and strategy it is aiming to muscle back as a leader with current and recent R&D investments. The Avaya customers have something to be excited about for 2020. Sara