Avaya CEO: Honing the Art of the Sale

From the Road

Avaya designed its multimedia and collaboration software, Flare Experience, as an alternative approach to technology from competitors Microsoft and Cisco. I talked with President and CEO Kevin Kennedy about the company’s collaboration strategy, its competitive battle and what it will to take to make video a part of everyday business life.

Tap into customers’ emotions

Delivering products at ever lower prices expands the market. But “the art of the sale” comes in delivering a good user experience, Kennedy said. “If you have a user experience that’s fun, more integrative—you know, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, as well as Active Directory—all of a sudden you’re going to become more dependent on it.” All the better if customers can have the same experience no matter what type of device they’re using.

Offer an alternative

“There was a point in time where … the premise was that everyone would want all capabilities to be convergent on a single device that was Windows-based,” said Kennedy. But social networking and tablets such as the iPad changed that premise. Meanwhile, he said, desktop-based multimedia has become expensive, “so people want to centralize that capability.” Avaya bets that its software-focused solution will be more attractive to customers. “A small business can put it on any device,” Kennedy said. “That has to open up the market.”

Emphasize your experience

Avaya, in combination with Nortel (whose Ethernet switching assets it purchased in 2009), has four decades of experience migrating enterprises “from one architectural change in real-time communications to another,” Kennedy said. The shift to collaboration technologies won’t be any different. “We’re going to interoperate with our competitors and we’re going to try to innovate so we give Fortune 1000 a low-risk migration,” Kennedy said. “We’ve been doing [this] for 40 years, and we’re going to step it up.”

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