Partners are key to Avaya’s marketplace, as the company focuses on providing higher value to customers and build stickiness with them. In an exclusive interaction, Vaibhav Kshatriya – Director, Channels & Services Sales, Avaya India, shares the company’s key focus areas and roadmap for 2020
What’s your vision for the organisation and how partners can become major contributors towards the success of Avaya?
I was given the charter of spearheading Avaya’s channel business about six months ago, and since then, my focus has been on doing new things. We have partners who have been with us for a long time, so they understand Avaya well. But we have been also continuing to innovate, and work with large system integrators – getting them on board, and knowing their expectations. Our overall focus is on new products, solutions, and deployment strategies.
I believe that partners are our first customers, and partners’ profitability is our responsibility as well. In terms of partner interactions, our focus has been on value-addition and building soft skills among them. We also train, interact, and work with the partners to pass on that value to the end customers. We are insisting partners to embrace new solutions and deployment models, as customers are embarking on a digital disruption journey.
We have been able to address the customer base, not just through innovation, but also with our partner ecosystem and the Avaya & Friends initiative. The market has changed and if we don’t insist our partners to embrace new solutions and deployment models, we would lose a chunk of the market that needs to be addressed. However, this doesn’t affect our traditional business as well as relationship with the partners addressing this segment.
Avaya already has a significant number of partners in India. Are you looking at a different set of opportunities which will be serviced by these mega-sized partners?
The mega-sized partners are the ones that are involved in large projects such as smart cities, and emergency-dial projects. They are the ones who have created broad-based solution sets. Some of the names include the likes of Honeywell and L&T Infotech among others. Our experience in this space has been really good. Our wins last year have almost doubled. There are few RFPs that we are fighting, and our win has been decent in the government segment as well. We have more than 50 per cent market share in the large business segment. For the next one to two years, the business will largely be driven from this segment.
What sort of efforts is Avaya putting in building stickiness with customers?
We listen to the customers and keep innovating solution sets, while aligning to their requirements. When a customer buys a product in a traditional market, they buy product as well as maintenance. The customer’s next cycle of purchase gets decided by the value that we provide. It is not just about the solutions, but the idea is also about serviceability. We focus on making these services easier for partners, and for the customers to be able to work with us. Ease of doing business with us and our partners is an important facet, followed by technology. This builds stickiness with the customers.
How is the company further going to accelerate the cloud growth journey?
We have partnerships with IBM and Microsoft, wherein we offer solutions for our end customers. We understand that different customers will require different solutions, because cloud is customer-centric in nature. Our strategy goes across public, private and on-premise. Other players have started talking about it now, but we have been active in private cloud solutions for 12 years now. For instance, we have been deployed this solution for Bharati Airtel. We have already rolled out the IBM data centre solutions in Europe, some part of APAC, and in the US. Whereas, we will make further announcements with Microsoft soon.
Multi-cloud has become the new norm, because customers are increasingly talking about being able to focus on the core business and being light-footed – the infrastructure footprint has to be lesser for them. The new-age companies, especially, are talking more on these lines.
How has been the reponse to the Avaya & Friends initiative? Are you also looking at onboarding new partners?
Especially in the India market, the initiative has made a decent impact. We have been able to create an end-to-end solution set and bring value for customer – not just monetary value, but also in terms of the impact of the business. The initiative has been fruitful and continues to make an impact for us. We have invested in on-boarding and working with the ISV partners. There is also a development team that works with partners that we bring in. We are definitely looking at on-boarding new partners and going to the market with them. These will include ISV partners, and new start-ups. We are also just not looking at solutions; we want to ensure that partners remain with the customer for a longer cycle.
How are you ensuring a win-win market environment for traditional and new-age partners?
The new-age partners are not competing our existing channel in the marketplace. They are instead supporting our channel ecosystem. We conduct many training activities for our partners. Our GTM strategy is based completely on partners. Only some key global customers are serviced directly by Avaya. Our products business is conducted entirely through partners. In terms of maximising the partner play, we are encouraging them to do more; and we are reinventing the wheel of our partner ecosystem – in terms of program and investment. We are also encouraging partners to invest in customer experience and demos, because customer experience is an on-going investment.
What is Avaya’s roadmap for 2020, especially from partner perspective?
We are doing several things for increasing the wallet share for our partners. We have broad-based our solution sets and we have brought a larger solution set for partners. We are focusing on providing higher value to customers. With the training and partner readiness, the solutions are not just limited to infrastructure; they extend to cloud as well. With the Avaya & Friends initiative, the amount of offerings has become much larger for the partners. Furthermore, the Avaya Edge Program is helping them from people perspective as well. The program also ensures that profitability is aligned to market needs and feedback. The trust factor is equally important; all our partners have been long-term partners. We are also looking at the mid-market segment, offering a flexible cloud solution set.