Three-quarters of UK consumers have expressed frustration at how difficult it is, when interacting with an organisation, to switch from one means of communication to another without having to start the process over again.
Avaya has won the top slot in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications for the ninth time.
Companies in the Leaders quadrant of the Gartner Magic Quadrant are defined as companies that “execute well against their current vision and are well positioned for tomorrow”.
Jim Chirico, President and CEO, Avaya said: “We are proud to have been named as a Leader by Gartner in the 2018 Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications, included for the ninth time. Earning this distinction, we believe, reflects our continued innovation and differentiated and valued solutions in UC. More importantly, we feel it also reflects on the deep relationships we have with our clients, providing them with communication solutions that help enable their organizations to operate in a highly mobile, competitive and fast-paced environment. Combined with our recognition earlier this year as a Leader in the 2018 Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure, Worldwide, it’s our view that Avaya is clearly reinforcing our status as a trusted solution provider for companies of all sizes on their digital transformation journeys.”
Avaya improved its position on both ability to execute and completeness of vision compared to the previous year’s results.
Avaya has been investing significantly in its Unified Communications portfolio to provide customers the solutions they want and need to fully leverage UC, including telephony, video, mobility, messaging, meetings and team collaboration.
The 2018 Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications report evaluated eight UC vendors on completeness of vision and ability to execute. Gartner then positions companies within one of four quadrants: Visionaries, Niche Players, Challengers, and Leaders. Gartner defines “Unified Communications Solutions — equipment, software and services — as offerings that facilitate the use of multiple enterprise communications methods to achieve those aims. UC solutions integrate communications channels (media), networks and systems, as well as IT business applications, and, in some cases, consumer applications and devices.” Gartner divides UC into six broad communication product areas: Telephony, Meeting Solutions, Messaging, Presence and Instance Messaging (IM), Clients, and Communications-Enabled Business Processes.
In May, Avaya was positioned as a Leader in the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure, Worldwide, marking the 17th time that Avaya has been in a Leader position.
Avaya has introduced a new version of the Avaya Workforce Optimisation suite, which improves service quality, operational and employee productivity and data privacy with a series of new features and tools.
The major software release should help customer engagement and comply with existing and emerging industry regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
IDC research commissioned by Avaya found that employee productivity is a key driver of digital transformation – a necessary step that sets the groundwork through which enterprises are better prepared to achieve the higher revenue growth associated with better customer experience.1 While optimising the customer experience and service delivery is critical to winning and keeping business, only 28 percent of companies believe they integrate customer communications with fulfilment and distribution extremely well.
Chris McGugan, Avaya SVP, Solutions and Technologies said that while more and more companies understand that providing a great customer experience is good business, many have a long way to go to bring all the parts together that make that a reality.
“Customer experience is a function of fully integrated, customer-facing, efficient and effective workforce support and back office processes. Avaya Workforce Optimisation helps ensure that the employees engaged in service delivery meet the standard of excellence that customers expect and deserve, and helps drive business profitability and growth.”
Avaya Workforce Optimisation also addresses a key concern of enterprises and customers around the world today: securing personal data and keeping it private. Driven by the European GDPR requirements, Avaya strengthened data privacy with the newest features to help securely record, process, archive, and protect customers’ data to reach compliance goals.
Other features included in the latest Avaya Workforce Optimisation release enable enterprises to:
· Improve operational effectiveness and accuracy with real-time speech analytics – Calls can be monitored in real-time to detect words and phrases of interest and to drive interactions to better outcomes.
· Improve customer and employee satisfaction – Supervisors and quality managers become better coaches and improve employee engagement through automated quality management, speeding scoring for some or all questions on evaluation forms.
· Improve data privacy and regulatory compliance – Enterprises can safely record, archive and protect personal data through advanced, 256-compliant encryption, Payment Card Industry Security (PCI), data identification and tagging and identify consent/no consent situations to help ensure GDPR compliance.
Michael Lazarus, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Manager at HomeChoice said his outfit’s quality assurance staff can now quickly adjust to customer needs.
“If people struggle to access something on our website or think that a feature is not user-friendly, we hear about it immediately from calls, surveys, and quality assurance scores, and can start to implement the desired changes straightaway. Because we can provide better service, our customers are even more satisfied than before.”
The latest version adds support for Avaya Equinox and new capabilities that provide an enterprise-level experience with the ease of use and management that small and midsize businesses require.
Chris McGugan, SVP, Solutions and Technologies, Avaya. said that by providing a single app to access all the tools they need to efficiently communicate and collaborate “we’re truly enabling teams to work smarter, not harder”.
The company said the product was a huge market opportunity for Avaya and its partners.
“IP Office serves an enormous base – 26 million users and growing. The new release is the most scalable solution in the market today and the only one that offers contact centre-like features to any size of business, embedded in one solution package. Users now have the richness of enterprise UC solutions, all in a single application, on premise or in the cloud”, McGugan said.
Solution provider and Avaya partner Derek Gray, Carousel Cloud Solutions said that it’s important that it had a record of live conversations to ensure that it had a reference point of critical elements affecting a client’s satisfaction.
“Chronicall with IP Office logs everything that happens on the call, providing us with call history, recording and real-time reporting, with a clean, easy to use interface. This not only provides us with what we need, but is also a perfect fit for our customers.”
Partners using Avaya’s Powered by IP Office cloud platform also benefit from these new capabilities and can offer them to new or existing customers in either a full cloud or hybrid cloud deployment delivery model. Partners will also have new installation wizards and management tools to make it even easier and faster to deploy and manage both premises-based and cloud options. For example, the new Cloud Operations Manager simplifies administration of large multi-customer cloud deployments, upgrades, patching and application inventory with role-based administration that helps ensure security.
CEO Jim Chirico said that it was an honour to mark the first day of trading on the NYSE for the new Avaya, which is more focused than ever on leading the industry’s digital transformation.
“Building on our history of innovation and expertise in deploying globally scalable solutions, Avaya sits today at the strategic nexus of connectivity for the enterprise.”
Avaya claims to have more than 130,000 customers worldwide, including 90 percent of the Fortune 500, however that went tits up last year when it filed for Chapter 11, owing millions to its channel partners. At the time it promised to come back “stronger than ever”.
The networking division of the firm has since been sold off to Extreme Networks, and in August last year, Avaya secured a deal to restructure its debt with its largest creditor, which included wiping $3 billion off the amount it owed.
Once listed, the company will be back having put its period of uncertainty behind it. Avaya had to restructure its business and also offload its networking business.
Avaya entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January last year owing millions to its channel partners.
The vendor has since undergone a year of restructuring, including the sale of its network unit to Extreme Networks, which completed in June.
Last month UK boss MacRae complained that Avaya’s competitors exaggerated the company’s plight to draw customers away from the outfit.
The company has been visiting channel partners as part of its Avaya Edge World Tour to discuss the future.
During the tour, company executives explored how Avaya and its industry partners can design enhanced customer experience solutions that go beyond the digital experience, namely through the application of artificial intelligence, analytics, blockchain and the Internet of Things. The event also showcased multiple demos of Avaya’s existing solutions catering to the needs of various sectors like BFSI, Contact centre, hospitality and more to showcase how customer experience is changing across these segments, Avaya’s solutions and products being at the forefront of this transformation, it reckons.
For those who came in late, Avaya has had a horrible year. But now it seems that it has emerged from bankruptcy protection and reduced its debt by $3 billion and flogged its networking business to Extreme Networks.
Avaya said it is now putting plans in place to float on the New York Stock Exchange.
Writing in his bog, Avaya president Nidal Abou-Ltaif slammed Avaya’s competitors for the approach they took to taking advantage of Avaya’s struggles.
“Don’t get me wrong, we’ve always been ready to leverage the weakness of our competition”, he wrote.
“Throughout my time here we’ve and will continue to have a fierce passion for winning and that will never change. The difference between us and some of our competitors is that we’ve always fought fair and we’ve always looked at who should be the true winner in any outcome – our customers.
“Some of our competitors went down the negative-selling route, trying to put Avaya down in the hearts and minds of our customers and partners.
“Not only does this not work, but it’s also left our competitors less confident in their abilities. Result: we’ve beaten them to the punch on key strategic accounts, with customers preferring to do business with people they trust.”
Apparently this is all due to a Plan Support Agreement (PSA) with holders of more than 50 percent of its first lien – or highest priority – debt.
Kennedy said the new plan is the result of “extensive negotiations” among Avaya and members of its “Ad Hoc First Lien Group”.
The creditors have agreed to support Avaya’s amended plan – which includes wiping more than $3 billion from Avaya’s debts, and transferring pension plan obligations under the Avaya Pension Plan for Salaried Employees (APPSE) to the US Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC).
The amended plan also pledges to take steps to enable Avaya to emerge from the Chapter 11 process as a public company. It still needs to be cleared by the Court which is likely to happen on 23 August.
Along with the debt holder agreement, Avaya announced that Kennedy is stepping down from the CEO post to be replaced by chief operating officer Jim Chirico as of 1 October. Kennedy will also retire from the board of directors, but will remain an advisor to the firm.
Avaya’s bankruptcy process hit shedloads of resellers and distributors. Avnet was named the firm’s second biggest unsecured creditor, with Avaya owing the distribution giant $8.8 million in unsecured debt.
Other large creditors include big reseller partners such as World Wide Technology which was owed $1.6 million and SHI
Avaya has also today filed its preliminary third quarter 2017 financial results, which expects revenues to fall nine percent year over year to around $802 million to $804 million, while EBITDA is forecast to come in at $202 million to $206 million down from $223 million reported in Q3 of 2016.
The company is close to snapping up Avaya’s networking business for £77.5 million, after being named the preferred bidder in March, which triggered a stalking horse bidders process.
The acquisition is part of a trio of Extreme deals, with the vendor acquiring Zebra’s wireless LAN arm and expecting to complete a deal for Brocade’s networking business in August.
But the company said that its acquisition spree is far from over and did not rule out further additions this year.
An Extreme spokesperson said that the company was continuing to shore up its portfolio as part of a scaling process where size means everything.
The company is eying companies in the switching space and tangential capabilities to strengthen areas that its partner want to deliver.
Extreme expects Brocade and Avaya will see Extreme double its customer base and partner base.
Extreme’s partner programme is fairly lucrative and the company wants to expand that to onboard the partners because it thinks there is an opportunity to expand its footprint.
Avaya partners should be reassured after an uncertain few months, the company spokesman said.
There is some relief that the technology is going to a networking company and there’s a feeling that the uncertainty is all over.
While Extreme said that it was interested in the deal in March it took a while for the deal to go through because Avaya was asking around to see if it could get more dosh. The deal will close on 1 July.
Avaya is selling off the family silver to help it restructure debts, and wants to focus on unified communications instead.
Extreme wants to take on Cisco and HPE and has also acquired Brocade’s data centre networking so it can cover the data centre core, LAN, campus networks, WANs and security.
Extreme thinks the deal will yield annual revenues which are more than $200 million.
Word on the street is that the outfit owes quite a bit of dosh to its channel partners.
Avaya announced that it had started the Chapter 11 process and would be rebalancing its balance sheet, “to better position itself for the future”.
However there are a few channel names who will be caught up with the case because of the global size of the indirect partner base, which stands at 6,500 as of 30 September last year. More than 74 percent of product revenues in fiscal 2016 came from the channel.
Top if the pile is Avnet which is owed $8.8 million but also hit will be HPE, Salesforce, IBM, Infosys, World Wide Technology and Red Hat.
In a statement the vendor has promised that it will emerge from the current process stronger.
Kevin Kennedy CEO of Avaya insisted the company was performing well, the only problem is that the current capital structure is over 10 years old and was put in place to support its business model as a hardware-focused company.
Things have changed since then and Avaya is saddled with large debt obligations and the upcoming debt maturities. The company needs to be recapitalized, he said.
“Pursuing restructuring through chapter 11 will enable us to reduce Avaya’s debt and interest expense, while providing increased financial flexibility to further invest in innovation and growth to enhance our market-leading competitive position,” he added.
He is also confident he can minimise disruption to our customers, partners, and employees. He did not expect the company to generally experience any material disruptions during the chapter 11 process.
Apparently Vole is taking advantage of the fact that traditional players’ have had a slow reaction to changing adoption patterns.
In the first quarter of 2011 and the second quarter of 2015, Microsoft tripled its market share from 4.8 percent to 15.5 percent in EMEA. This made it a “head-to-head competitor “with Alcatel-Lucent, Avaya, Cisco, Aastra and Unify which have been the kings of the space for years.
With more than 15 per cent market share, Microsoft has become the fourth-largest player, IDC said.
IDC’s report said: “This is not a random rise of a vendor/ The companies that had dominated the EMEA IP PBX and UC platform market come from equipment- and on-premise-focused backgrounds. They were too slow to react to the rapidly changing adoption patterns in the market, and Microsoft seized the opportunity.”
The imaginatively titled Avaya Midmarket Select Programme enable partners to offer Select Engagement Packages of services and products specifically aimed at the midmarket.
Avaya has been worried that the midmarket has been tricky – particularly when it comes to Unified Communications. Fully integrated solutions, which rely hardware and software sit at one end of the market while cloud only packages are parked at the other with little for the middle ground.
Avaya says that it already has more than a dozen channel partners already signed up in the US, Canada and Europe, and has now opened the programme to others. Partners must meet requirements for training, expertise, business plans and growth targets.
The company said that the programme will dramatically reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) for purchasing, deploying and supporting midmarket solutions.
The packages offers a complete stack of enterprise-class solutions such as unified communications, contact centre, video, networking, mobility, and professional services.
Avaya’s roots are in proprietary hardware, but it appears to be successfully using commodity hardware and standards-based software. It recently launched it’s own software-defined networking architecture earlier this year, rivalling solutions from both Cisco and VMware.
That’s the conclusion of Eric Abbruzzese, research analyst at ABI Research, whose video conference hardware doesn’t quite cut the ice.
He said: “With the current market focus on cloud computing and hardware virtualisation, dedicated hardware sales will see little growth in all video delivery markets, including videoconferencing telepresence hardware.”
He said hardware revenues are likely to be more or less flat up to 2020 but the Ciscos of this world will have little luck selling kit if products don’t adopt to a virtualisation model.
He said the three firms in question have already begun to move to cloud based systems and using their existing products as a foundation for the cloud services.
Aside from the enterprise, video conferencing for us plebs will show strong growth. Skype, ooVoo and Google Hangouts will all have their place in the sun.
The business communications and collaboration systems and services company has announced that it will be rolling out its Avaya One Source globally.
It’s also announced three new Avaya Aura suites of UC, mobility and collaboration applications that help simplify pricing and the delivery of UC applications.
According to the company, the suites make it easy and cost-effective for channel partners and customers to select and deploy the right mix of UC capabilities across their entire workforce.
Avaya One Source is said to speed quoting and ordering of all Avaya products through more efficient pricing, processes and tools. New automation capabilities, real-time access to standardised pricing, and an integrated and centralised web-based system is also claimed to significantly reduce order cycle times, enabling channel partners to deliver quicker responses to customers.
The service is said to be available to all 9,000 Avaya Connect channel partners and will also include simplified global pricing and discounting reduces 1,400 Avaya material price groups to 13 and combines over 200 separate pricing catalogs into one.
Avaya One Source is already deployed in key regions throughout the world, with full deployment planned for all countries in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia Pacific by July.