Anthony BartoloApril 20, 2020

What I Learned from 10 Years of Competing Against Avaya

Joining Avaya as EVP and Chief Product Officer has been exciting, but my journey has some twists and turns. You see, prior to re-joining Avaya (I was previously with the company for a few years), I spent nearly a decade directly competing against them. This experience was eye-opening to say the least, and it infuses the work in my new role with a special perspective.

There was not one company I worked for during this time that didn’t have an “attack Avaya” plan. Avaya has a massive install base and an award-winning portfolio of UC and contact center products. After nearly a decade of going after this base, and this base having tremendous reason to look at alternatives, I came back to see that Avaya’s customers were as loyal as ever.

The identity of these end customers is built on technology that Avaya has carefully developed over the years. We help create fantastic experiences for them that deliver outstanding value to their customers. Returning made it clear that the difference between Avaya and its competitors is that they’re trying to grab what we already have--not just our technology, but our approach to implementing and managing strategic IT initiatives.

The Challenge for Today’s CIOs: Sticking the Landing

I often use a ski jumping analogy when discussing this with IT leaders. Many vendors will paint the picture of a ski jumper soaring in the air, graceful and free, telling you that the sky is the limit for your organization. Do what YOU want. Experience the freedom, they’ll say. We all aspire to do this, and there’s nothing holding us back.

But wait a second. If it’s really so great, why don’t we all just do it? We know it’s possible, but it’s not as simple as slipping on the gear. You’re ultimately shooting down a huge ramp on long skis, then taking off and flying a decent of massive height before landing on two feet--preferably without dying. 

This is what it’s like for today’s CIO. Decision-making for any high-tech deployment is like ski jumping where you’re paid to stick the landing. This is why many tend to be risk averse. They also don’t own all the decisions, whether it’s with their partners within the business or their own internal constituents. Many points of compromise happen along the way, and it’s these points of compromise that prevent a flash cut to an end state.

You need someone who understands the complexity and the reality of the journey. That’s why high-performance teams work with a seasoned expert; someone who’s been in the game for a long time with proven experience in business planning, technology planning, financial planning and more. You don’t want a resident doctor performing your heart surgery. You wouldn’t leave your dream renovation in the hands of just anyone who can swing a hammer. This is what makes Avaya and our trusted partner ecosystem a formidable force.

The Clear Avaya Difference

There’s a reason people go after the top dog. As you read this, 90% of the Fortune 100 run their business on Avaya with 4.5 million cloud contracted seats. We’ve been named a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications nine years in a row, a Leader for the third consecutive year in the Aragon Research Globe for Unified Communications and Collaboration, and have more than 141 million UC lines deployed globally. Avaya’s products have proven to be resilient and scalable; they’ve stood the test of time. Our consistent R&D delivers strong results for stakeholders  - and it’s not driven by market capitalization or sentiment.

Coming back has made it clearer than ever that this is Avaya’s space. We understand it. We know it well, and we know where customers want to go. What we do is something that can’t be easily replicated (replicating a piece of technology is very different from being able to untangle or streamline processes and capabilities for sustainable organizational change).

When it comes to digital transformation, there’s no longer a choice. It’s do or die. Disrupt or be forgotten. Every organization needs to focus on mapping a key journey that takes them from their current environment to a desired end state (cloud – public or private – hybrid or any other state) at their pace, with an experienced partner by their side. Someone who understands the many compromises and integrations with their existing processes, capabilities and, most importantly, outcomes. It’s not easy, but it’s made easier with the right partner by your side.

The bottom line is that you can’t trust someone to guide you in the right direction when they don’t understand your journey. At Avaya, we’re driven purely and simply by customer journeys--either organically or through our many partnerships. We know how to avoid career-bruising interruption. We’ve been doing it for decades, and we’ll be doing it for decades to come.

There’s only one Avaya, and I’m excited to be back helping organizations of all kinds map their unique journeys. It’s good to be home.  

What I Learned from 10 Years of Competing Against Avaya

Anthony Bartolo

Anthony Bartolo is Executive Vice President and Chief Product Officer.  He is responsible for driving Avaya’s leadership through its product portfolio, which includes oversight of product development, product management, emerging technologies and corporate strategy across the company’s premise and cloud-based Unified Communications, Contact Center and Collaboration solutions.

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