Avaya fires (and misfires) on opening day of 2011 VAR show

Opinion

Avaya fires (and misfires) on opening day of 2011 VAR show

Almost a year ago to the day I painted a mental image that those of us who have met Avaya worldwide channel boss Jeremy Butt would possibly rather forget. So let me paint it again for you!

Last year I made the point that Avaya had gone on apologising for having dithered over its attitude to the channel for long enough, and called for it to get on with the business of doing business.

I believe the words "sitting naked in the snow, flogging themselves with birch twigs" were employed.

I'm happy to say that on the evidence of today's opening keynotes the contrition has indeed vanished (hey guys, no need to thank me). And if further evidence of this change was needed, just a few weeks ago I spoke with the new UK boss Andrew Sheppard, who refused to discuss the vendor's chequered history because he felt it irrelevant.

So Avaya, like Tony Blair, now has no reverse gear.

I bring up our erstwhile PM to make a serious point. Because like Tony Blair, there's something with Avaya that's not quite right just yet. There are still some places where it is firing blanks and there are still some holes in the story, some obfuscation, and if I were to be in a position of giving Avaya serious advice that they'd listen to, I'd say this should be the next thing to address.

Take sales and marketing SVP Joel Hackney's presentation, which walked us through some stats about market share and revenue growth...

Except they didn't. Nothing was labelled. No figures. The charts were effectively unquantifiable. Okay, still a private company, I hope this will change, but for now, why bring it up?

Then there were the misfires, chief among which was a truly terrifying corporate rap video that left the room cold, but apparently went down well with the families of some key Avaya employees (who will remain nameless).

But overall, and leaving matters of personal taste aside, the picture we have to paint this year is a positive one.

Here we have a vendor that came late to the channel, flip-flopped a little but has stayed committed for some time now. They went through a tricky integration with Nortel that could have opened up a real can of worms, but came out of it well.

Their tech guys have successfully surfed the wave of consumerisation and social media that has enveloped the industry in the last 12 months, and I think resellers wondering if they should get involved in this game should be in no doubt that Avaya is the vendor to take them there.

It seems to me like on the eve of its IPO, Avaya now has a bit more zip and confidence, confidence enough to take some very well-conceived and hilariously executed potshots at Cisco and Microsoft.

On the strength of today's sessions, I'm happy to say that Avaya is firing on most of its cylinders in the run into 2012.

This was first published in November 2011

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