Miles Davis has been with Avaya – and the Asia Pacific (APAC) region – for less than a year, but already has big plans for the vendor’s channel future.
Relocating back to Australia after 16 years in Canada, Davis has been spearheading Avaya’s channel strategy and partnerships across the region, as well as its newly relaunched Avaya Edge Partner Program.
Responding to customers’ growing appetite for outcome-focused solutions, Davis is now focused on helping partners adopt a more “consultative” approach in order to carry out customers’ visions.
Speaking to ARN, Davis said: “Half the battle today is understanding: what is the vision of the customer? What do they know so far and what don’t they know? Then how do we set [partners] on the right path for that customer's success?
“Our move to the cloud has been underway as we’ve moved from on-premise and from hardware to software and the pivot to software-as-a-service. The Edge Partner Program has followed those steps for the past five years and is based on making it easier to do business with and more profitable for the partners.”
In the last few years, Avaya has embarked on some heavy lifting in the Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) region, especially regarding the channel.
At the end of 2019, it launched ReadyNow, which brought unified communications (UC) and contact centre (CC) solutions to Australian and New Zealand users.
It also inked two master agent deals, one with VExpress and the other with Comms Plus.
Davis’ arrival into Australia and the APJ channel chief role coincided with the end of many of the country-wide COVID-19 lockdowns and the opening up of the region after two years.
While the initial outbreak of COVID-19 saw many customers need rapid cloud migrations and shifts to remote working, today’s market is now focused on a hybrid structure, Davis explained.
“As we re-emerged with more of balance between home working and at the office, we found a new set of challenges,” he said. “The number one challenge we are facing now is to maintain the pace of [Avaya’s] architecture and how it slots into tools like Microsoft [and maybe] CRMs [customer relationship management].
“We have to be able to offer that through various formats – on-premises and cloud. It’s that adaptability and being able to pick up on what the customers are looking for from us and our partners to maintain that new structure in a hybrid workforce.
A lot of Avaya’s customers are now looking to partners to migrate them from a traditional maintenance program to a subscription which rolls in elements such as ‘flex-up or flex down’.
Partners that carry out these migrations are right in the eyeline of Avaya and are eligible for 4 per cent of that total contract value upfront.
For partners selling Avaya Cloud Office, the vendor is offering upfront payments which is designed to help partners pay any initial upfront capital costs of deployment.
"This is almost equivalent of selling on-premises system,” said Davis. “It enables partners to pay off upfront capital costs and then reap the 'long-tail' of recurring revenue. We are now averaging seven-year contracts, so there’s a really good longevity to it.”
The value propositions
As a result of the shift to cloud, partner enablement and has taken a different route. In the words of Davis, training is now focused less on “going through the manual” and instead demonstrating to partners’ Avaya’s value proposition.
“Training is as important as it has ever been, especially within the contact centre space,” he said. “We have made sure we increase the number of virtual courses we offer. That of course drives down the cost, so we have seen a big uptick in delivery.
“Unlike in the past, we have found now we don’t have to do a lot of hands-on work. The public cloud has opened up things like Avaya Cloud Office to partners who may have had a more traditional IT background, for example desktop or managed print. The training is now much more focused on messaging and value proposition. That is much more important than say working through the manual.”
“Where we see more training is in the API [application programming interface] and developer side, so they can identify which other toolsets may be required to integrate Avaya into other platforms such as Microsoft [and] Google AI,” he added.
Ultimately, David hopes his channel leadership in the APJ region will see Avaya maintain “clear communication with partners, programs that make sense and put profit in partners’ back pockets”.
“We want to expand our whole ecosystem value. We specialise in communications, but we recognise that other requirements are really important to what we and our partners do,” he said.
One example of this, Davis cited, is Avaya’s alliance partnership with Alcatel-Lucent, which sees them supply Avaya’s contact centre-as-a-service (CCaaS) and in return for access to the latter’s wireless LAN and switching portfolio.
“We see that as a really good, continued conversation to bring to partners’ tables. These are sales that will increase partners’ metal levels and the value they get from our program,” he said.