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Avaya Aims to Hit Quarter ‘Out of the Park’

Avaya hopes to end its first quarter since emerging from chapter 11 and resuming as a publicly traded company on a strong note with a new pipeline of cloud and AI solutions, a new master-agent program and a late-inning incentive push.

**Editor's Note: Click here for a list of 20 top UCaaS providers offering products and services via channel partners.**

Capping three months that included a wave of new technology introductions designed to pave its future path, Avaya is looking to close out its first quarter since its Jan. 17 return as a publicly traded company on a high note.

As the quarter winds down this week, Avaya is offering partners incentives for any home-grown deals – those not already in the funnel – with 3 percent rebates. In the spirit of the opening of the Major League Baseball season, Gary Levy, VP of Avaya’s Americas Channel, is swinging for the fences.

“We see opportunities to really hit this quarter out of the park,” Levy said, speaking at last week’s New York City stop on its Avaya Innovation Tour road show, touting its new technology road map and channel programs.

“We want to make sure we see our estimates and our goals, and we want to help you,” Levy added. The incentive is a rebate that doesn’t require partners to go through a special bid process but must be those that partners had picked up from their customers, he said.

Avaya threw that offer into the mix last week, along with the launch of its new master-agent program, aimed at creating a distribution tier certified to work with MSPs and resellers. As agents, they can offer Avaya’s IP Office portfolio of cloud-based unified communications services, bundled carrier services, SIP trunks and desktop conferencing services. Under the program, MSPs and resellers can sell the service as part of their solutions with Avaya providing support.

“It’s a simple storefront that will enable agents to procure, implement and service the customers into a new route to market as well as, I would say, an expanded level of interaction with not only the agents but the distributor as well,” Levy said.

Value-added distributor Jenne is the first master agent to announce it has signed on, with approximately a dozen in the queue — to be announced in the coming weeks, Levy said in an interview. “We’re excited about bringing this cloud-agent program to market and the ability for customers of all sizes to procure the product through the agents,” he said.

Serving as a master agent is nothing new for Jenne, which has similar arrangements with several major CPE and cloud PBX hosting providers including Mitel, Ring Central and 8x8, and also with Polycom for phones.

“I think this is a really compelling offer against all of those,” Travis Frilling, director of Avaya Solutions at Jenne, said during a brief interview at the Avaya event.

“There’s over 600,000 IP Office seats deployed. It’s tried and true, there’s a lot greater sample size with Avaya in the communications space than anyone else. The master-agent model allows us to bring an offer to people we haven’t been able to bring. Not everyone is a technical and certified agent that can just roll up and install IP Office. This allows IP Office to get into new markets.”

Technology Road Map Targets New Solutions

In a push to transition its portfolio with competitive cloud and a modern communications software and services, Avaya officials also described key pieces of its technology road map that it sees serving various use cases. The company has showcased three key verticals: insurance, hospitality and health care, including patient monitoring and offering caregivers real-time information. The acquisition of Spoken Communications, announced in January at the Avaya Engage customer and partner conference, closed this month and will play a key role in the delivery of new solutions, company officials emphasized. Spoken has implications for both new customers looking for a cloud-based omnichannel contact center that supports voice, chat and other customer interaction modalities, as well as existing customers and partners that use its Aura Call Center Elite.

The fact that Spoken already offered integration with the Elite platform played a key role in the deal, said Jean Turgeon, Avaya’s chief technologist, in an interview at last week’s event. “It’s already in the market, so we’re positioning those solutions to help customers transition to a cloud offering,” Turgeon said.

Two weeks ago, at the annual Enterprise Connect communications industry conference in Orlando, Avaya demonstrated how the Spoken platform integrates with Salesforce.com CRM apps.

Avaya's Jean Turgeon at the company's Innovation Edge Tour stop in New York, March 20, 2018.

“Now we’re pushing the envelope with all of the other channels, but the other big piece that was critical to us was the Intelligent Wire, which brings much more sophistication from our natural language processing and a tight integration with already strategic partners like Salesforce,” Turgeon said.

Avaya also introduced new cloud-based team collaboration to its Equinox Experience, letting customers create their own team rooms. The new user interface now brings together voice, video, chat communications channels, calendar and meetings. Company officials also demonstrated Ava, a new platform to enable AI, chatbot and natural language processing into its various offerings, which will include support for Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home interfaces.

Avaya Mobile Experience

In addition, the company will deliver the Avaya Mobile Experience, designed to enable its call-center customers to identify calls originating from mobile phones. Those calls are directed to enable a mobile web app experience to provide a richer experience, but also to terminate the use of costly 800 service lines.

Avaya estimates 70 percent of calls coming into a customer-service center now come from mobile phones. The Avaya Mobile Experience can reduce reliance on 800 lines, which are costly to call-center operators, but don’t offer any savings to mobile callers, now that all calling plans have unlimited voice. Organizations with Avaya Breeze, the company’s workflow integration platform, can use its snap-ins to enable WebRTC and co-browsing support. Avaya has partnered with Post Quantum to offer Identity as a Service (IDaaS). In context of the Avaya Mobile Experience, it will identify that an incoming call is from a mobile device, giving the customer the option of a multimedia digital experience.

Building on Blockchain

The IDaaS platform Avaya is working on with Post Quantum will allow for biometric authentication and use blockchain to authenticate credentials and provide recordable transactions that offer verifiable audit. The capability will be offered with the Avaya Mobile Experience and also as a separate service to provide higher-level protection services against fraudulent transactions. Blockchain is well suited for this purpose, Turgeon told attendees at the New York Avaya Innovate event last week.

“At a high level it’s the concept of a write-once distributed architecture, so when I write a record, all of the participants in the blockchain get a copy of that record and that record can only be written once,” he said. “Think about contracts. If I have a legal contract with you, I want to make sure that someone did not cheat and make some changes to my financial records. This is a logical way to start tracking transactions. This is why blockchain is important.”

Noting the buzz around blockchain these days, Turgeon emphasized it’s not developing products based on the technology but using it. “Avaya is not a developer of blockchain solutions,” he said. “We will be consuming blockchain technology.”

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