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Avaya CEO talks competition, debt, innovation

Tim Greene | April 1, 2013
Avaya is pushing a new range of unified communications products, but is finding that managed services are becoming more popular among its customers who would rather turn over complex UC transitions to someone else for a predictable monthly fee, says the company's CEO Kevin Kennedy.

How does a business decide whether it wants to do the capex or opex model?

We actually went through an executive advisory council meeting about a week ago and posed that question to about 12 customers. Interestingly enough while I thought the answer would be similar in most cases it wasn't. Businesses that were cash-rich were more than likely going to continue to buy on the capex model. There were some businesses that have made a decision that their dominant logic would be trumped by where they wanted to spend their [human] resources or did they want to retain the resources to continue to manage legacy infrastructure. Of course with human resources come test labs for release management so there are other ancillary investments. There are some that just say 'Hey, I have a set of retail stores and I want to get people up and running on low-bandwidth, hi-def video on their iPads as quickly as possible and so tell me what the opex utility model is for that.' In each case it didn't necessarily lead with optimizing cash flows over a certain period of time. It really mattered what problem were they solving for their business, and so it was actually quite different.

What's Avaya's vision for WebRTC?

The communications industry is going through a period of transition much like the computer industry did - three generations of technology computers obviously from mainframe to client-server technology to Web. Similarly our industry has certainly several generations one of which is heavy infrastructure which becomes IP infrastructure which is now becoming SIP infrastructure and all three of those exist in the industry. That infrastructure over the course of the last decade and a half we've tried to tie into big applications such as Oracle, Salesforce.com, and we tend to speak of that as communications-enabled business practices. There's a speed with which both of those forces, those communities go forward. There's a third - I kidded today my wife was the pro of connectedness in our family and quite frankly Facebook is the epicenter of that connectedness. She can stalk all of our children and our acquaintances, but Facebook will become communications enabled - applications first but communications second. Then you have applications such as Twitter which are meant as communications applications and become so much more. Those four forces are driving us. The latter two are going to be the most open and responsive to WebRTC. The other applications that are much bigger and have more behavioral patterns in businesses will probably be the slowest to adopt WebRTC. That being said WebRTC is agile enough that - let us pick a call center application. You could conceive of how WebRTC could be an on-ramp or an off-ramp to that already existing business process in our infrastructure, in the near term this concept of WebRTC being an on-ramp and off-ramp. In the longer term it may become much more than that although I think there will be new behaviors and new applications that exploit it. I think there's going to be this coexistence for quite some period of time. It will be most prominent in the top half of that in the Web-oriented applications. It will be prominent as on-ramps and off-ramps to legacy and it will evolve with new applications unto itself over the next three to five years.

 

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