In an interaction with CRN, Nitin Kaushal, Head – Enterprise & Government Business, North, East & SAARC, Avaya India, shares insights into the key strategies designed to empower the company’s channel community for achieving the business objectives.
Q. In this digital disruption era, how is Avaya aligning with the changing market dynamics?
With the government going gung-ho on the digital, this is by far the most exciting phase for the communication companies. So much happening around smart cities and citizen centric activities, the way we are gearing up to respond to these changing market dynamics. From Avaya stack, we have Dial 100 for emergency response and with this we are ensuring that the citizen response time is the least. This is on the contact centre side.
Similarly, smart classrooms and tele-medicine is coming up big time across the country. This is because the government is making efforts to reach out to rural population which really needs these services. And we are enabling government and related agencies in this direction. From the CSR perspective, we are supplementing and complementing a lot of these initiatives.
Across the globe, Avaya has been traditionally working very closely with the government and a lot of our solutions have been around public services – be it healthcare, education, emergency responses, and disaster management. Globally, we have a very large footprint in these areas.
Q. Has this also called for the way you approach customers in terms of addressing their requirements?
Our every solution is designed keeping customers in mind and we always strive to ensure how we service our customers better. We engage with the customer’s rights when this thought process is seeded. We are a bit ahead of time when it comes to addressing customer requirements. A lot of our customers are large global players and they keep re-inventing themselves with the time in terms of technology adoption. So, when we are aligning with them, we have to constantly be on our toes.
When we come out with any solution, it is generally in line with what the customers want. In many scenarios, we have the early mover advantage. Avaya is amongst the very few companies that have end-to-end omni-channel portfolio, out-of-the-box from Avaya itself. A lot of our competitors have plugged those gaps with third-party or complementary partner solutions. We keep on re-inventing and that’s where the customer’s happiness index is very high. While we have following this for the last four to five years, the trend is now visible among other companies wherein everyone not just wants to be satisfied but also be a happy customer.
Q. As the company has transformed from a hardware to a software and services company, what are the unique value propositions that you bring to the market that have put you in the advantage position?
By becoming a software and services company, we are less dependent on infrastructure. Since the whole approach is software-driven, our offerings are more agile and the architecture is open to interface with third-party applications. This would not have been possible if we were just a hardware company. And this is one of the biggest advantages of being a software-driven company.
Today, customers are closely looking at artificial intelligence, IoT and machine-to-machine learning. While servicing the customers, you want this information to come really quick to them. If I am still working on the infrastructure or hardware environment, by the time we respond or react to it, a lot of time lag would have happened. On the other hand, if I am working on-the-fly, where I am looking to create or service a request or up-sell to a customer, unless I see his past history, I won’t be able to do it.
The environment becomes very dynamic and if you want to make any changes or launch a new programme or scheme for my customers, it becomes quicker and the response to the market is much faster. And finally, everything boils down to the cost. You have lesser number of people to manage the infrastructure and this gives you a green footprint, as there is no delta power or electricity consumption happening.
Q. Where does the role of channel come into the play to take your success story forward?
Globally, we have about 6,000 channel partners through which we service 130,000 odd customers. We wouldn’t have been what we are without our partners. While we have a very few direct engagements with the customers for mission critical or high-end applications, the rest are predominantly served through channel partners.
This means that we have to constantly re-invent and re-skill our partners, and be open from the ISV perspective as a lot of development would happen around our system. We can’t do everything on our own and that’s why partners come onboard to develop delta applications. This helps us augment our reach and sell as well as service better.
From the partner enablement point of view, there is a constant effort from our side when we come out with new technologies or get into new areas like cloud. Hence, supporting and building the partner ecosystem becomes equally important.
Market penetration can only happen through partners; and it gives me immense pride that we have excellent partners in the country like AGC Networks, Orange Networks, and Wipro among others who have been working with us all these years. They have supported us in covering the largest as well as smallest of the customers.
If you look at our mid-market penetration servicing the emerging business segments within the country today, which are starting their business operations in Tier II or Tier III cities, we have partners helping them to do so. With the help of partners, it becomes very easy for us to service these customers. While some think that with the arrival of cloud, our ecosystem of partners would shrink; it is still the same and probably it will keep on augmenting. On the contrary, it would not have been possible had we remained just a hardware infrastructure company. After taking a software-driven approach, today we are working with partners like AWS and CtrlS. It has opened up more doors but surely in a different spectrum.
Q. Do you mean this will create more opportunities for new age partners in comparison to the traditional ones?
We have never bracketed partners in one specific zone. One of the major reasons for our success is that partners have been constantly re-inventing themselves. Most of the partners who have been with the Avaya traditionally have re-skilled themselves with the time. Meanwhile, many new partners have come onboard. With the advent of cloud, we have started going out to partners having cloud based expertise but at the same time, we have not neglected the existing set of partners. I don’t see a reason for partners to be wary of the fact that with the advent of technologies like cloud, they would run out of the business.