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Two years after successfully acquiring Nortel's former enterprise unit and the technologies, channels and customer install base that went with it, Avaya is making progress. There's a revamped channel program, the strongest technology portfolio it's ever had, and a community of channel partners encouraged, if not always entirely convinced, that the idea of Avaya as a channel powerhouse is a real one.
Avaya is now in execution mode, urging partners to maximize profitability by selling the full Avaya portfolio -- unified communications, collaboration, contact center and data networking -- and also changing the ways it compensates partners to help catalyze growth through channel incentives.
From a technology perspective, Avaya's big bet is on Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) technologies and Avaya President and CEO Kevin Kennedy sees Avaya's investments in SIP and channel growth as two of its biggest differentiators as it goes to battle with Cisco, Microsoft and a legion of other competitors.
Kennedy sat down with CRN Senior Editor Chad Berndtson at Avaya's U.S. partner conference in Las Vegas this week to talk about channel profitability, Avaya's growth strategy and Avaya's competitive stance. Excerpts of the discussion follow.
During your keynote address, you mentioned that Avaya, in terms of progress, was ahead of where many of your peers thought you'd be but still shy of where you hoped Avaya would be. Where did you want Avaya to be by now? Can you qualify that comment a little more?
I think internally, you hope to drive more revenue. There are probably places like certain pieces of our product portfolio where I would have liked to have sold more. We gave you interesting stats on line-side SIP adoption [e.g. two thirds of communications carriers now have SIP trunking available], and that's been very vigorous in the last two quarters, but less so in the two before that. It took a little longer to make that happen, but it is starting to happen. If four quarters ago we had seen a bigger uptake, that would have been great. So there are two examples for you.
Avaya made a couple of acquisitions this year, including of Konftel and Sipera, and you said you'd continue to use Avaya's cash toward more acquisitions this coming year. What other segments will you be looking at for potential acquisition?
We did speakerphones with Konftel, we did a company called Persony, we did Aurix, for speech analytics, and Sipera gave us session border control. So all of those have the flavor of being technology tuck-ins. There's not a lot of people to digest, and the technology plugs in and fills gaps for us. That's probably going to be the pattern in the next year: tuck-ins as a way to accelerate our own organic plans.
But any particular segments? Sipera makes sense, obviously, because SBCs are a hot, growing market.
I have nothing more to reveal to you than whatever looks good at the time, or what speeds our ability to bring a solution to market.