Avaya Channel Chief Seeks Global Cohesion

At the same time, Butt joined a company from Motorola in the midst of a massive transition, with then-CEO Lou D'Ambrosio stepping down due to health concerns, and a series of other executive shifts.

In an interview with Channelweb.com, however, Butt said Avaya's goal for the new year is to not dwell on the past and the executive shakeups, but to look to the future and put Avaya on the tip of solution providers' collective tongues when they think of VoIP, unified communications and collaboration.

"Avaya's got a good name and a good brand worldwide, not just in the U.S.," Butt said. The trick, he added, is adjusting the channel program to put Avaya square on solution providers' radar screens.

"The channel program could be significantly easier to work with," Butt said he's heard from partners. "I would agree with those sentiments."

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While Butt noted that the program has a "solid foundation," he said it hadn't been managed well in the past. Butt said he's noticed that there was not enough investment or evolution within Avaya's channel program, two wrongs he hopes to right in 2009 and beyond.

Going into the new year, however, Butt has vowed to build a cohesive worldwide channel program that drives revenue through the channel and to solutions providers.

"We haven't kept a good grip on the program as it rolled out around the world," he said. "Our plan is to build one program worldwide."

That updated worldwide program will include instituting new partner relationship management (PRM) initiatives; ensuring that contracts are uniform globally; and streamlining program structures to help sales and partner communities. Butt said it could take up to a year for many of the new initiatives to take hold.

"You have to keep a consistent program. Partners and customers look for a seamless global experience," he said, adding that partners "absolutely hate having things changed on them that cost them time and money."

The overall goal is to make the program more functional, pragmatic and operational.

Along with reworking the PRM system, which started the day Butt took over as worldwide channel chief, he's also ushering in a more channel-centric environment.

"The quicker you bring a channel partner into the opportunity, the better," Butt said, adding that it makes the sales and engagement process more seamless.

Butt also hopes to create an air of partner collaboration, where partners can work together to accelerate projects and share skill sets among each other and make it more than what he calls an "up-market dating service."

Through those new initiatives, along with building a cohesive partner advisory council, simplified pricing structures and new and attractive leasing and financing options that will make it easier for partners to sell solutions -- many of which are still in the works -- Butt said he hopes to modernize and streamline Avaya's overall global partner program.

Butt also noted that Avaya will launch new demo projects and make training easier for partners to ensure Avaya's partner base is in compliance and certified at a certain level. That will also include defining partners' competence with tiered partner levels, he said.

While Butt noted that all of the planned changes won't exactly happen overnight, he said he's confident that building up the fundamentals of Avaya's channel program will lead to stronger partner satisfaction and create more opportunities for Avaya and its partners alike.

"The whole DNA of the company will really think about the channel before pushing the 'go' button on something," he said. "Once you get the fundamentals put to bed, you can start getting more creative."