Following the acquisition by Avaya of Nortel's enterprise business unit, where he was previously president, Joel Hackney this summer became Avaya's senior vice president, global sales and marketing, and president, field sales.
Charged with the continued growth of Avaya's fortunes, channel and otherwise, Hackney says his greatest challenge is how to get the market to understand "the new Avaya": a collaboration-centric technology powerhouse with the channel acuity and services programs to match.
Hackney sat down with CRN this week for a wide-ranging discussion of Avaya, past, present and future, as Avaya's Americas partner conference got underway in Las Vegas.
Looking at all the things that defined your year, I wanted to start off from the perspective of channel growth and the perspective of Avaya's overall growth. What is your biggest challenge right now?
It's getting the market to understand the new Avaya. That has several elements to it. You've seen us do a lot of innovation this year, and we've redefined the company. It's not something we just did overnight. The single biggest challenge from a channel organization and a sales force is getting that messaging out and making sure customers understand it. It's real. It's not just a set of promises. Ninety percent of my time right now is focused on working with our partners to go to end users and let them know we're the new Avaya.
What do you have to convince them on, exactly? Your perspective is interesting here because you came from the Nortel side and knew Avaya, in its previous reputation, as a competitor. What do you have to sell people on?
That we are a collaboration company, not a telephony company. We've moved the market and people are starting to get that. We're not a telephony company. We're not a voice company. We're a collaboration company. That's the consistent theme throughout the company and for our partners, and that's something our best partners understand the most. And the fast growth partners are the ones that can take that message out. It's not like we have to disprove anything -- it's not like there's a perception that we're not a collaboration company -- but it's a positive positioning for customers. It's, hey, you helped us with our communications -- our voice network -- in the past, and now you're talking about where we can take this in the future.
NEXT: The Idea Of A Collaboration Company