Expanding the channel

With businesses of all sizes increasingly looking at unified communications solutions to boost efficiency, Michael Bayer, president EMEA, Avaya, tells CommsMEA how operators also stand to gain.

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Expanding the channel Bayer says Avaya is looking to work more with telecom operators.
By  Roger Field Published  November 17, 2009 Communications Middle East & Africa Logo

With the corporate and SMB sector looking to cut costs, businesses are increasingly turning to SIP-based call centre solutions to help drive efficiencies while improving the way they communicate.

US based enterprise communications specialist Avaya is just one company that understands the growing demand for solutions that simplify communications and help improve efficiency.

The company, which is in the process of acquiring the enterprise services division of beleaguered Canadian vendor Nortel, has been busy promoting its latest SIP-enabled call centre platform, known as Avaya Aura, a product that supports unified communications and contact centre solutions for mid-size to large enterprises.

The product, which Avaya's EMEA president Michael Bayer refers to as the "starting point for customers to consolidate multi vendor environments which gives you huge benefits," brings a number of benefits to businesses.

"It gives you the benefit that you are able to follow your route to upgrade in terms of applications centrally," Bayer says. "It gives you savings because you can cut down on so called PSDN (public switched data network) costs.

"You offload more of your traffic on your wide area data network than through the public PSDN and then in the final stage it allows you to move all of the applications in to a data centre, so the application is then driving the implementation."

"The benefit of that solution is that it is fully SIP enabled and is essentially one server for all-you-can-see applications, driving down costs, simplifying solutions on the market.

"Installation for the whole solution is less than half a day, which also makes it interesting for our channel partners."

Bayer adds that the next step is to introduce Aura for small to medium sized organisations, and the company also intends to look at alternative paths to market for the product - including the region's telecom operators.

Perfect partners

With new products coming to market, Avaya has also expanded its route to market in the past 18 months, with telecom operators now forming part of the mix.  "Here in the Middle East we have also significantly increased our coverage model with customers like Etisalat and STC, who have traditionally been end customers of ours for their call centre solutions or for their own infrastructure," Bayer says.

"We have broadened that now to a value proposition for resale or managed services to the market, and that is definitely the way to go."

However he adds that the trend is "a bit different" operator to operator. "We see a lot of the operators going into the enterprise space with what I would call hosted solutions, where you host it for a specific customer. And then there are some others who have a much stronger interest in a managed solution, building a platform that will scale to multiple customers.

"Here in the Gulf area I see them more looking into the hosted solutions right now to get the bigger enterprises closer together.

"We see operators as one very strong channel in our channel landscape, and we are continuing to invest in to them."

One of the reasons that Avaya is working more with telecom operators is that they offer a strong alternative path to market for its solutions targeted at smaller companies.

In this light, Avaya is likely to increase the amount of business it conducts via operators as the company pushes further into the SMB market.

"This new mid market Aura solution is complemented by a product which we call IP office, and IP office is now going to scale down to sub-20 users, and that was not where we were playing previously," Bayer says.

He adds that Avaya is planning to launch a specific IP office product within the next four months, purely targeting sub-20 companies as a bundled offer through its distribution partners.

"This also drives a different channel engagement. I look at the SMB as a distribution and service provider led game, and there it is much more about support, ease of doing business with, and programmes and collaterals, than it is about a sales engagement.

"It is about enablement of partners to make them successful to carry our brand and that is a process that started a while ago," he adds.

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