Live from #Converge2014: Pierre-Paul Allard Keynote Address on Avaya's Transformation Journey
The Avaya story today is very different than the company’s story just 5 years ago. In 2009, Avaya was a largely voice-centric, infrastructure-heavy company focused on installing major contact centers and enterprise phone systems. In recent years, Avaya has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the future–which is mobile, open, simple, software- and networking-focused.
That transformation journey took center stage during the opening keynote address at IAUG Converge 2014, delivered by Senior Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Global Field Operations, Pierre-Paul Allard.
Going forward, Avaya is focusing on four key categories: Services, Mobility, Applications and Fabric-based Networking. That strategy was the result of Avaya listening to its customers, and delivering products based around what it heard from the market.
“If you walk away with one thing, it’s that the customer—you—are at the heart of all that we do,” Allard said. “It’s the core of our strategy and really is the main element, the main thrust of all of our activities as it relates to change or evolution in our business. … There is really only one boss: You.”
Let’s take a deeper dive into these four key areas.
Companies are increasingly moving away from buying and installing equipment upfront (the CAPEX model) toward paying smaller, monthly subscription fees for cloud-based technology (the OPEX model). This new, subscription-based model is often faster and easier to deploy, and is more flexible in case businesses want to change directions down the road.
“Services” not only encompasses the portfolio of Avaya’s managed products, but also the personnel to help troubleshoot those products. Avaya’s services unit is among the fastest-growing business units inside the company, reflecting customer demand for subscription-based products and support.
Ubiquitous bandwidth is extending office hours for knowledge workers, who can now answer email and voicemail at home, take video conferencing calls on the road and otherwise access their company’s full suite of business productivity apps when they’re away from the office. The result is higher employee productivity and happier workers (who are now able to work virtually anywhere).
Under the legacy computing model, apps were monoliths, incapable of sharing data and ultimately adding unnecessary complexity to the office worker.
To illustrate this point, Gary Barnett, Avaya Senior Vice President and General Manager of Collaboration, described his daily struggle with meetings: He takes multiple meetings per day, each of which are scheduled on his smartphone’s calendar (an app) and require him to dial in to various numbers (another app) or use different collaboration platforms (even more apps). More than once, he’s found himself scrambling to find a conference code and PIN leading up to his Nth meeting of the day.
Onstage, Barnett demoed the Avaya Personal Assistant app, which integrates with a user’s calendar to automatically connect them with the correct conference at the correct time–eliminating the need to ever remember another conference code again.
More broadly, Avaya’s application-focused future is about allowing Avaya software to run on a range of different products.
“You’re creating an environment where what you’re focused on is the enablement of the application that will drive the productivity of your users,” Allard said. “…Infrastructure has to stand on its own, and we have to focus on how we enable the applications on the other side.”
Legacy networks were based on top-down, proprietary networking installations. Avaya recognizes that the future is much more flexible–companies now view the technology stack as a series of interchangeable pieces (many of which are now virtualized or exist in the cloud).
Software-defined networking adds a new layer of flexibility to the networking equation, allowing network managers to dynamically change their available resources without physically being inside the data center.
If you watched the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, you experienced the capabilities of Avaya’s SDN-based network infrastructure. Avaya Virtual Enterprise Network Architecture (VENA) Fabric Connect powered the entire Olympic networking backbone–36 high-definition IP TV channels, flawless Internet access for journalists, athletes and Olympic officials, and the communications network that kept the Games running.
“I would say we have a phenomenal portfolio,” said Avaya Vice President of Field Marketing, Enzo Signore, who joined Allard onstage. “I think it positions us with all customers to have conversations about ‘Imagine what we can do.’ It’s a tremendous opportunity now–between an enterprise solution built on Aura, Avaya conferencing, and the midmarket solution in IP Office–we have the full solution to enable us to solve any customer problem.”