Avaya Channel Updates Include Data, Video Certifications

Avaya on Wednesday confirmed several new certifications and other additions to its year-old Avaya Connect channel program, including upcoming certifications for its video and data networking businesses.

The updates, announced during the channel update portion of the morning keynotes at the Avaya Americas Partner Conference in Las Vegas, offer video or data expert designations to Avaya partners that can demonstrate advanced abilities in sales or support for video or data.

The certifications, Video Expert and Data Expert, join Avaya's existing SME Expert and Service Expert certifications, which are open to Avaya channel partners in the Platinum, Gold and Silver levels of the program.

There's also a new certification called Avaya Certified Solutions Architect (ACSA), offered in both Unified Communications solutions or Contact Center Solutions, which is for individual employees achieving top levels of training and competency in UC and CC. Individual employees can also receive Avaya Connect Video Solutions certifications, which are an add-on to their UC credentials.

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The new certifications will be made available starting in the first quarter of 2011.

Next: Additional Changes

The new certifications and the ongoing updates to Avaya's program reflect a move toward competency from partners instead of volume sales.

"This is the third year in a row I've said competency drives volume, volume doesn't drive competency," said Jeremy Butt, vice president, worldwide channels.

In his presentation, Butt touted a number of additional improvements to the partner program, and also explained that Avaya had cut a number of existing partners in the past year, including some 400 of the 600 previously authorized UC partners in the U.S.

"We must evolve together and we must get more selective together," Butt told the assembled crowd, which included attendees from 338 partner companies.

Among the new offerings are the recently launched Avaya Connect Partner HelpDesk, which is available in 10 languages as a resource for partners who have questions about Avaya's channel program, services, marketing and training.

Avaya is also providing partners a slate of courses for obtaining a Market Business Services and Solutions diploma, provided by the Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA) and the Chartered Institute of Marketing. The courses are intended for partners interested in building their business skills and acumen.

Next: Channel Motivation

Partners should expect more Avaya Connect changes over the next few years, Butt said. For example, Avaya will be rolling out a special bids approval process, which is currently in pilot, and in the future, a select number of partners will receive new products before they're generally available, instead of everyone getting them at launch as is currently the case.

Other things partners can expect, according to Butt, are an advanced portal for managing Avaya renewals, more developed ISV programs, increased services commissions, and, further down the road, the addition of a customer satisfaction requirements to Avaya's existing business partner requirements.

By fiscal 2013, Butt added, Avaya will have migrated to a pure, value-driven requirements model for channels.

Butt also highlighted Avaya's recent joining of the Alliance for Grey Markets (AGMA), which raises awareness on unethical secondary dealers, fraud and counterfeiting practices.

"We've had enough of these people," Butt said. "These people steal from you, and they steal from us, and they give the customer an unsatisfactory experience."