Avaya Launches New Services Specializations

According to Susan Kuchinski, Avaya's director of worldwide services channel development, the new Avaya Services Delivery Specialization (SDS) program arms solution providers with tools to augment and showcase their ability to deliver a full range of lifecycle services for Avaya products and solutions. Avaya's stable of BusinessPartners and AlliancePartners can now provide services in conjunction with Avaya while demonstrating advanced competencies and expertise in implementation, maintenance support and application integration.

The program also increases partners' visibility to customers, who can easily find and identify partners that have the appropriate skills and qualifications to deliver the level of desired services.

Kuchinski said the program stemmed from a perfect storm of sorts, where customers were seeking out solution providers, but were unsure which had Avaya's endorsement. The new specialization is the next level in Avaya's move for the company and its partners to extend co-delivery of services.

"The opportunity here for partners is for them to build a service business and practice around Avaya that's recognized and accredited by Avaya," she said. "Then they can go to market in a marketplace that provides them with the services revenue necessary to reinvest, build and grow."

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The program centers around four specific areas of designation: Implementation Specialist, Implementation Professional, Support Specialist and Integration Expert.

The Implementation Specialist is designated for authorized Avaya partners that achieve advanced capabilities in implementation, while the Implementation Professional designation is for "services-only" Avaya partners that do not resell Avaya product and have found demonstrated expertise in implementation services.

Support Specialists are platinum-, gold- and silver-certified Avaya BusinessPartners and AlliancePartners with significant cross-portfolio sales of Avaya products and who demonstrate a sophisticated level of capability in post-sales maintenance and support.

And the Integration Expert designation targets platinum-, gold- and silver-certified Avaya BusinessPartners and AlliancePartners with deep expertise in Avaya unified communications or contact center portfolios who demonstrate the ability to integrate Avaya applications in multivendor environments, while also meeting the requirements of the Implementation and Support Specialist designations.

Kuchinski said participating partners will have access to Avaya Global Services methodologies and tools to help them deliver services to the customer. Additionally, they receive a broad range of financial, sales, marketing and support benefits. Qualified partners also receive the appropriate SDS designation logo to help customers easily identify their services capabilities.

"We wanted to create a co-delivery partnering model that is more effective and efficient," she said.

Each services specialization requires certain numbers of Avaya Certified Specialists certified in IP telephony, modular messaging, contact center or unified communications. For example, Implementation Specialist, Implementation Professional and Support Specialist designated partners must have a minimum of two Avaya Certified Specialists in IP telephony and two in modular messaging. For Integration Expert, partners must have four Avaya Certified Specialists in IP telephony, contact center and unified communications, or a mix of other Avaya Certified Specialists in other disciplines.

Each different designation also has sets of partner incentives. For example, partners that achieve Implementation Expert and demonstrate the ability to care for an end-to-end Avaya solution have the opportunity to be brought into direct sales opportunities as part of Avaya's high-touch channel model. Those partners can also take top-line revenue with no additional requirements beyond what it takes to qualify for the specialization, Kuchinski said.

Kuchinski added that marketing development funds are accrued against services revenue for all designations.

To qualify, each designation requires a level of competency and certifications, but also requires staffing minimums, customer references, complementary industry certifications and an annual customer satisfaction rating of 85 percent or greater. Partners must also have a staging center or support lab based on the designation they desire.

"The Avaya SDS program is good for our BusinessPartners and good for customers," Carol Giles Neslund, Avaya's vice president of North America channel sales, said in a statement. "SDS enables our channel partners to expand their portfolio of services with streamlined access to a broad range of Avaya tools, systems and people. Customers can quickly identify the channel partners that are the best fit for their project and be assured of their services expertise. This is a great collaborative effort between Avaya Global Services and our Avaya BusinessPartners."

Dick Bourdow, central region vice president for NACR, an Eagan, Minn.-based solution provider, said the new services deliver specialization programs that answer challenges solution providers face in the market by allowing them to differentiate themselves from the pack by illustrating they are backed by Avaya as an expert.

"There was nothing in the marketplace coming from Avaya that said they endorsed us," he said, adding that now customers can see and understand that NACR brings a strong level of services delivery expertise. "It helps us differentiate ourselves."

Bourdow said going into a potential deal with specific designations has a competitive advantage over organizations that may not, which is a win for both NACR and Avaya.

"This will expose us to other providers and distributors," he said. "It shows we have a strong commitment to deliver customers the solutions they want. This gives us validation in the marketplace."