(Pictured above: Partners attend the Avaya Innovation Edge Tour in Boston on April 26.)
AVAYA INNOVATION EDGE TOUR — As Avaya repositions for the future, it’s not only hiring new leadership talent and rethinking its product strategy, but it’s also on a mission to educate partners on next-gen technologies and digital transformation.
To do that, Avaya kicked off its Innovation Edge Tour, beginning March 1, covering eight cities from coast to coast. The tour follows Avaya Engage, held in New Orleans in January.
This week in Boston, almost 200 partners – including Carousel Industries and Integration Partners – spent the day learning about why technologies such as cloud, artificial intelligence, IoT and blockchain matter; the role for partners at the core of integrations; and innovative, real-time communications. Partners also got to meet more than a dozen sponsors, such as distributor Jenne, FatPipe Networks, Westcon, ScanSource, eGain and Verint, to name a handful.
The vendor spent less time talking about itself and its products and more time educating partners on the evolution of digital disruption.
“Digital transformation is an accumulation of technologies and it’s a strategy for how companies are taking things like artificial intelligence, internet of things, cloud and mobility, big-data analytics, blockchain and machine learning to do one particular thing — to drive personalization,” Dawn-Marie Elder, senior director, digital transformation at Avaya, told the audience. “Personalization means that you get what you want when you want it.”
Turning its focus to software, services and cloud solutions, Avaya needs to help partners cross the bridge to digital as well. Avaya’s path is transforming from a call center/telephony company to next-generation digital platform. Why does that matter to partners?
“How you are all paid today and how you sell things today is going to evolve and change over the next 12-24 months,” said Elder. “So, I’m going to stop paying you on 9608s [IP desk phones]; they’re going to come with the rest of the service because that’s how we’re going to evolve and differentiate ourselves against our competitors.”
Just last month, Avaya launched its Cloud Master Agent Program, designed to accelerate sales of the company’s cloud services to small and midmarket businesses. Jenne signed up as Avaya’s first master agent, followed more recently by Intelisys, with more sign-ups to come, noted Gary Levy, vice president, U.S. channels at Avaya.
“We have this tremendous brand, a tremendous base of customers and influx of new customers coming in every quarter, and we’ve been servicing them in the cloud, through both private cloud and what we call our powered-by-Avaya cloud, which are stood up by our partners,” Levy told us. “What we hadn’t yet produced was a pure public cloud that could be consumable through a simple point-and-click storefront where agents and VARs could customize their solution in a matter of seconds. I believe this new program is going to transform our cloud business very quickly.”
Avaya’s traditional VAR channel is decades old, with deep customer relationships. Now, the company needs to bring these customers to the cloud.
“That’s not just about the opex; it’s about how they evolve their customer’s business — and they know that customer’s business better than others,” said Levy. That’s why the company’s Innovation Edge Tour is about the conversations that partners need to have with their customers, he noted.
“When the partners [in attendance] here today go to their customers in the next few weeks or months, we want them to start with, ‘Did you hear about Avaya’s mobile experience? Do you know why that matters to your business? What is your digital transformation journey?'” Levy said.
After another opportunity to learn about emerging technologies and demonstrations on real-world applications, Avaya is betting on a partner base that’s more educated and ready to have relevant business-transformation conversations.