New Avaya WW Partner Head Looks To Bulk Up SME Partner Base

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Richard Steranka, the new head of Avaya's Worldwide Partner Organization, is plotting a course for the Avaya channel in 2014 that involves significantly growing its SMB and midmarket footprint and offering new incentives for partners helping to fuel that effort.

Steranka, who joined Avaya in July of last year, was officially tapped as the Unified Communications (UC) and networking vendor's vice president, Worldwide Partner Organization in August. Steranka's appointment was the latest in a string of executive shakeups to the Avaya channel team, including the departure of Worldwide Channel Chief John Spiliotis and the looming exit of Senior Vice President of Global Sales Tom Mitchell.

According to Steranka, his new role within the Avaya channel organization is one that hasn't been carried out since Avaya's first formal Global Channel Chief, Jeremy Butt, joined the company in 2008.


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"Really, nobody has had this exact role in the past three years," Steranka said. "You would really have to go back to Jeremy Butt before this exact organization we have today was in place."

The distinction, Steranka continued, is that his responsibilities expand beyond those of the traditional global channel chief role -- such as managing the details of the Avaya Connect partner program -- to include the actual day-to-day management of the channel business itself, overseeing, for example, the Profit and Loss (P&L) statements for that part of Avaya's business.

This role, Steranka said, underscores a broader restructuring effort happening within the Avaya channel organization that includes adopting a hardline reporting structure and rolling out Centers of Excellence around different lines of business, such as front-line sales, channel account managers and systems engineers.

"[These groups] work as one, cohesive unit in the field, but are now managed by experts in those areas as opposed to what we were doing, which is managing by regional sales leaders who really had the responsibility of developing all those unique and individual skill sets, which was pretty challenging," Steranka said.

With this backdrop, Steranka said he already has some items on his to-do list for 2014. For starters, he said, he wants to fuel Avaya's ongoing midmarket offensive and elicit the help of partners to do it.

"For us, it's not just about the growth rate of the midmarket itself -- which is pretty much on parallel with enterprise if not slightly higher in some markets -- but it's the fact that it's a market where there is no clear, standout winner from a vendor perspective," Steranka said. "And we believe with the solutions that we have, we have the ability to take share."


NEXT: Avaya's SME Incentive

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