Avaya's Gary Levy: Partners Know We're Evolving

Avaya channel chief Gary Levy shares the direction his company is taking with partners in 2019.

Edward Gately, Senior News Editor

January 22, 2019

7 Min Read
Evolution of man

AVAYA ENGAGE Avaya partners are on board with the company’s continuing evolution and are anxious to embrace more opportunities with cloud and new technologies.

That’s according to Gary Levy, Avaya’s vice president of Americas channel sales. Avaya’s Engage 2019 conference is underway in Austin, Texas, attracting nearly 2,500 attendees, including partners and customers representing 43 countries.

A year into its 18-month turnaround, Avaya president and CEO Jim Chirico told attendees his company has the right strategy in place, is making the right investments and plans to invest more, including doubling down on investing in cloud research and development.

A year ago, Avaya was fresh out of chapter 11 bankruptcy. Chirico said 2018 was the first chapter of improving his company’s trajectory as a business.

“[Being] the envy of the industry separates us from the pack,” he said. “No one else can deploy a 50,000-seat call center … [and] a 100,000-seat private cloud. Our coverage includes 4,000 people in field … and 4,700 partners — they’re a force multiplier.”


Avaya’s Gary Levy

Earlier this month, Avaya unveiled a series of enhancements to its Edge partner program, designed to eliminate complexity and stimulate cloud sales.

In a Q&A with Channel Futures, Levy talks about new opportunities for partners and what he’s hearing from them about the company’s continuing transition.

Channel Futures: What’s the overall message for partners here at Engage?

Gary Levy: I think most importantly is that the partners have seen that we’ve continued to evolve and they’ve seen that year over year, not only in our offers, but mostly in our programs. Our programs have evolved – with the new Edge program – but there’s a huge opportunity for the partners to earn, opportunities around new customers, new contact-center seats as well as cloud. Cloud is so prevalent now for us and our partners. But mostly it’s the message around simplicity for them as we evolve the programs, and that we continue to innovate around their needs, because the partners are who’s driving the feedback from customers to us. That’s why they’re so important to us.

CF: How will the recently announced Edge program enhancements benefit partners? Did partner input come into play when formulating the enhancements?

GL: The feedback from partners certainly guided change around new customers, not necessarily a new customer to Avaya, but a new segment through Avaya. So it would be a solution where a customer may be using Avaya today and one of our adjacent solutions they’re not using, so that offer applies to those adjacent solutions as well, which is important. And then from a services perspective, there was great feedback around how we bring customers and evolve them to cloud. So we had looked at it in one respect last year and the partners really provided some great feedback this year that changed the program, so that the opportunity for them to earn in cloud is unrivaled versus others. There’s a tremendous opportunity for the partners not only from an education perspective, but most importantly …

… the enablement to have their sales teams get out into the field and have a true conversation with the customers.

CF: How will the new Avaya One Cloud ReadyNow private-cloud offerings benefit partners?

GL: What’s important when you look at the partner community is, at Avaya we talk about experiences that matter. For me, it’s the partners that matter and the experiences they bring to us, and the experiences they have brought to us through the years. So I think what’s important for them is they’ve got customers who rely on them as their trusted adviser. That customer has done a tremendous amount of business with them over the years and they have a relationship, and the partners maybe in the past have felt that there was a limited conversation that they could have with the customers. Today and over the last year, through evolving both mobile experience and now the One Cloud offer, they’re changing the conversation with those customers. I think it’s important that the customers continue to see those partners as an extension of Avaya, but also an extension of their ecosystems and provide customer experiences as well.

CF: What role will partners play in Avaya achieving its aggressive goals in cloud?

GL: I think the partners play a tremendous role; they already are the sole reason for our success around our IP Office Powered By solution, which continues to grow quarter over quarter. That’s a true Powered By the partners; it’s a Powered By Avaya offer through our partner community. So I think that alone has shown us that the partners understand the model, understand how to sell the model and are thrilled to see that we’ve put out not only our storefront, but as well our current cloud offer so they can expand that ecosystem with their customers. I think the timing is important to them because we want to make sure they go the pace of the customer, so whether the customer is looking for a private, public or hybrid solution, our partners play a really important part in that because they see other solutions that are out in the market where they may not play — they may not be a part of the solution. But with Avaya, the partners are really an important part of the solution regardless of the cloud model that the customer chooses.

CF: What role are partners playing in Avaya advancing its innovation with technologies like AI, multichannel and more IoT?

GL: What’s interesting about that is many of the artificial intelligence (AI) use cases that we’re getting in some of the vertical markets are developed through our partners. So whether it’s a Breeze application or an opportunity for integration to Oceana with the channel, it’s coming from our partner community where they’re getting the information from a customer experience or a customer issue, and creating the experience with the customer, and putting business outcomes out there on our behalf. The partners are able to …

… take the understanding of all of the adjacent technologies that the customer is looking for and [determine how] that matches through Avaya. “How does that match” is the core of the experience that customer is looking for and the outcome is typically what Avaya provides. So the partners have to bring those together — and there’s an opportunity for the partner to earn with Avaya at the core.

CF: What are you hearing from partners here at Engage?

GL: What the partners really appreciate is Jim [Chirico, Avaya’s president and CEO]. Jim has been a champion of the partners; he works tirelessly to make sure the partners have opportunities and they have the ability to win in the marketplace. He addressed partners privately … and I think that partners are excited that we’ve made promises over the years to bring certain opportunities to market and we’ve fulfilled those promises. We’ve put out a tremendous portfolio of new devices that [are] really changing the way AI is being used. I think that they realize we’re not just jumping into certain solutions without making sure that they’re tested and true. The most exciting thing that I’ve heard … was the fact that the partners believe that our cloud solution now can go from proof of concept to engage in the field and active in the field within weeks. So a customer no longer has to create two separate projects when they’ve got one stream through their end users. To them, that’s the simplicity that they’ve been looking for through Avaya and they know the quality of the solutions is there as well. And there’s opportunity again to earn good money.

CF: What do you hope partners learn, and can bring back home and make use of from Engage?

GL: First and foremost is that Avaya has transformed, not only from where we’re transforming and continuing to transform with not only the AI story, but the customer experience that really continues to change. We are responsible for some of the most important communications in the world and the partners know that that’s critical to their customers. They know when they go back, they want to bring the excitement back to their teams; that yes, Avaya is here with them in partnership with them; and that Avaya’s viable and is continuing to evolve where maybe others over time may not be as nimble … as we come to change throughout the contact center and other solutions. So they go home knowing that we’re here for them and they’re so important to our business. They are an extension of our business.

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About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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