AVAYA ENGAGE — It’s sunny outside in downtown Phoenix, but it’s been quite “cloudy” at this week’s Avaya Engage 2020 conference.
The theme of this year’s conference is “All In” and it highlighted Avaya’s increasing focus on cloud unified communications (UC). It also was the first Engage for Jon Brinton, a longtime Mitel exec who joined Avaya in December as its vice president of North America channel sales.
Avaya’s Jon Brinton
“We put significant resources behind our partners to sell with the channel, to enable them and to help them be successful,” he said. “We have some very lucrative programs where we engage with our channel and they can take advantage of compensation and benefits that go to our strategic imperatives. So we want them to clearly get the message that we’re all in with our channel, and I’m asking them to be all in with Avaya. So we’ve got a very clear and what I think would be a successful intent going forward with our channel.”
On March 31, Avaya and RingCentral will launch Avaya Cloud Office by RingCentral, the UC offering based on the strategic partnership between the two companies announced last October. Avaya Cloud Office combines RingCentral’s UCaaS platform with Avaya phones, services and migration capabilities for businesses of all sizes.
In addition to traditional channel partners, Avaya is pursuing master agents and agents to sell the new offering.
Frank Ciccone, Avaya’s senior vice president and general manager of North America sales and service delivery, said his company is transforming to become more cloud and subscription-oriented, and its Edge partner program now reflects that compensation model.
“The partners quickly realized that for them there are a fair amount of financial reasons why they want to move to subscription, and they’re jumping on it,” he said.
Scroll through our gallery below for highlights from the conference.
Big Year Ahead
Jim Chirico, Avaya's president and CEO, told attendees his company has never been in a better position to empower the enterprise. Like the 2020 Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, Avaya never lost sight of its goals and objectives, and stayed true to its course, he said. In 2019, Avaya gained 6,000 new customers and more than 500 competitive displacements against Cisco
, Five9 and Genesys, and plans to continue that momentum in 2020, he said.
"It's a great time to be in Avaya," he said. "I have been here 13 years and this is the best time. I'm really excited about what we’re going to do in the future."
Watch Out, Competitors
Vlad Shmunis, RingCentral
‘s founder and CEO, joined Chirico on the stage and said no competitor can come close to Avaya Cloud Office. He also said the offering is good for both companies as Avaya leverages its brand and resources, and RingCentral gets expanded global reach and access to the "world's best partner network."
Shouting from the Rooftops
, Avaya's new senior vice president and chief marketing officer, said Avaya hasn't been vocal enough about what it's accomplishing with innovation. For example, Avaya is donating audio and video equipment in China to help coronavirus
patients stay in touch with their families, he said.
"I'm going to make sure we’re shouting from the treetops about the things we’re doing and doing well," he said. "I’ve really been taken by … the stories I’ve heard from this company; there's nothing comparable."
The Importance of ExperienceDrew Kraus, research vice president at Gartner, said it's time to start thinking about multiexperience, which involves the "feelings that a customer experiences at every touch of your brand" and consistency in experience. Employee experience is equally important, he said.
"A positively motivated and equipped employee delivers a much better experience than one who isn’t," he said. "It's about how you give them the right tools and motivate them. Companies that invest in improving employee experience can have really dramatic results. So there are strong reasons, both on the financial and customer experience sides, to deliver on the employee experience side."
Harrison led a discussion on multiexperience with Dan Bodner, Verint's president and CEO; Rajen Sheth, Google Cloud's vice president of AI; and Robert Weideman, executive vice president and general manager of Nuance Communications' enterprise division. Weideman said AI has "allowed us to fill gaps in what we have in experience," while Sheth said AI provides a "greater experience" for customers while cutting costs and increasing efficiencies
Five9 Strikes Again
Just outside Engage, Five9
camped out, and offered partners and other attendees free coffee and tried to convince them to ditch Avaya and choose them for their cloud migration needs.
"Nobody told them that coffee's for closers, so they're trying to give away free coffee," said Joe Brinton, VP of North America channel sales at Avaya. "Some people have been a little put off by it ... but I think what things like that say is it shows you how awesome the customer base and the channel partner base is at Avaya because Avaya has the customers, they have deep relationships with 91% of the Fortune 500 and brands like you wouldn't believe."
Avaya demonstrated its employee experience technology in the Solutions Expo. Organizations want new solutions that combine customer and employee communication and collaboration
apps to address the evolving needs of the "experience economy," Avaya said. The company said it has been using its portfolio to blend these solutions for a more "seamless, converged" communications platform to deliver "optimal business outcomes."
Conference and Collaboration
Avaya demonstrates its Avaya IX Collaboration Unit CU360, which can access and run cloud-based Android
applications and provides a choice of cloud-based collaboration tools. It also is fully integrated with Avaya Equinox Meetings Online to deliver a "seamless and productive" collaboration experience, according to the company.
's solutions focus on customer engagement optimization and cyber intelligence. More than 10,000 organizations in more than 180 countries – including more than 85% of the Fortune 100 – use intelligence from Verint solutions to make more informed decisions.
Bill Schneider, Verint's global vice president of strategic partnerships, said a lot of his customers get the message that they need a successful and consistent multiexperience customer journey in contact center, but need help getting there.
"That's where we're working with Avaya, and the only way you can really provide that value to customers is to have an ecosystem of applications that fit for purpose and work together," he said. "So we've done a lot of work with Avaya in integrations and common release sets, and all those things to align our solutions together so we can provide those kinds of use cases to customers ... on how they get there."
Avaya Cloud Office
Avaya provided more information to partners and other attendees about its upcoming Avaya Cloud Office with RingCentral.
"We've been talking and working together for the last several months," said Zane Long
, RingCentral’s senior vice president of global channel sales. "We've educated over 400 Avayans, as they like to call themselves, and certainly Avaya partners ... in that as well. So what we've been talking about is just refining the go to market. My global channel program will be working collaboratively with the Avaya channel program and their direct salespeople to make sure the Avaya partners have the greatest opportunity to learn about UCaaS
, to be able to expose their customers to the UCaaS opportunity so that those customers ultimately have a way of making an educated decision in buying UCaaS."
With more than 550 Avaya certifications, Carousel Industries
helps IT leaders design and deploy Avaya unified communications and collaboration (UC&C), contact center, networking and cloud solutions.
Vox Network Solutions
Scott Landis, Vox Network Solutions
‘ president and CEO, said Avaya Cloud Office is a "clear strategy" with RingCentral and "already a proven product," but more details are needed, such as "what it means to the contact center customers and what's the migration strategy for applications."
"They needed a pure-cloud offer and they needed it now, and so it's still yet to be determined how it all comes together," he said.
Attendees were treated to a rousing and entertaining keynote by NBA legend and massively successful entrepreneur Earvin "Magic" Johnson. He had attendees laughing, cheering and applauding as he talked about his biggest challenges and achievements, and his rivalry and friendship with Larry Bird. He also prompted a standing ovation for NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash