Avaya: Every difficulty is also an opportunity
Nidal Abou-Ltaif, Avaya VP for the MENA and Turkey, remains encouraged by market potential
What lessons have you learnt from 2008?
In 2008, the company prepared itself for transformation. They have a new management across the board, across all sectors; including a new chief running the channel globally. We found our IT needed to be upgraded, so we’re investing heavily on IT to make sure it’s making us more productive.
We’re putting systems to meet our service delivery and automate our supply chain, as well as programs that allow us to monitor our partners. Also, part of the initiative is using Avaya products and using what we sell. As they say, walk the talk.
Automation is something we’ve started in 2008 and we’re not stopping.
Can you comment on your new global channel model that’s also applied in the Middle East?
Almost 90% of our business is channel. 2009 started on October 1st because of our financial year and saw our channel program deployed globally. That program was developed and rolled out based on feedback from our channel and customers, and also based on our plan to grow by expanding our reach. The best way to do that is through channel.
What's your advice for partners that are striving for growth in these troubled times?
It’s a difficult time but it’s also an opportunity. Our products help customers in difficult times because it allows them to be more productive and reduce costs.
My advice to partners to continue investing wisely, optimize their operations and stay closer to customers. That’s exactly what Avaya is doing - we’re continuing to invest in people, in IT and being ready for our customers. It’s business unusual; it’s not like before.
We are less impacted than other companies maybe because we sell solutions related to business – absolutely business – and, in difficult times, it’s better utilized.
Has the crisis resulted in Avaya focusing more on the Middle East?
Avaya has been focusing on the Middle East for many years. We are part of the emerging market and the minute you say ‘emerging’ it means a place to invest. They focus and pay attention, not because of the financial crisis, but because they’ve found we have a good customer base, growth opportunity is there and the feedback from customers is good.
I was not asked to reduce or cut, so we continue our investments and continue with the offices we are opening here. I’m encouraged by that.
What are your growth targets for 2009?
My target is 30% of what I achieved last year. We had to recruit more than 20 people, though I’m still short because I can’t find resources.
None of the big projects we’re working on were cancelled so we’re not afraid or panicked. We’re watching things…and we have confidence in our customers and confidence in the market direction, so I’m positive.
What percentage of Avaya’s global revenue does the Middle East account for?
The emerging market for Avaya, at least for EMEA, is more than double-digit percentage. It’s a good percentage between us, Russia and rest of Africa.