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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.

When you talk about the on-ramp and the off-ramp that would be what? Using the browser instead of a client?

That's right. It's a browser-based access.

Does it change the model for what kinds of applications Avaya creates?

I think there would be applications we would build first-off in a WebRTC model before we will build it in another one going forward. Will we or will the industry spend a lot of time redoing things of the past that are already working? I'm probably disinclined to think that that would be vigorous. But I do think that at the end of the day the more ubiquitous WebRTC becomes and the more reliable its interoperability becomes those things that are easy to do in WebRTC people are just going to gravitate to it.

What do you see as the timeframe for this type of innovation?

Anything that is being driven by consumer cycles is going to move faster than slower and WebRTC falls in that category. If you think sometimes about the adoption of things like SIP or TCP/IP taking a decade or a decade and a half to gestate I think you'll see WebRTC move 50%, 75% faster. These on-ramp and off-ramp applications will occur over two to three years, and we'll see a bouquet of applications. The size of the market revenue-wise may not be huge but the possibilities will become clear. Over a three-to-five year horizon people as I said will think first about WebRTC if it can start that way. It really blossoms over a three to five-year period. But it's starting now.

The head of Enterprise Connect Fred Knight says 204 of Fortune 500 companies have nothing they call unified communications. What's the problem?

I honestly don't know the context. One challenge with unified communications is in some ways it's been a promise not fully delivered on, and so it could be in Fred's context is that for a decade or more people have set expectations in unified communications that have not been met. The context of communications is richer. The field of collaboration the choices you can make today are far richer than you could have two years ago. I can't think of a Fortune 500 company that I have spoken to that is not in the quest of implementing a unified communications solution. Those are the only facts that I can tell you from my own experience.

"In the quest of implementing it" could also mean a company that has nothing they call unified communications.

Yeah, it could.

Does company size matter when it comes to choosing managed services?

I'd say the majority of the commerce that we see tends to be from larger companies - Fortune size companies. I would say in general there are folks that need to go through a technology transition, do not want to spend the human resources themselves in going through that, are very detailed and diligent about making sure that there service level agreements are in place so that the management of the outsourcing is done well. And they are more comfortable managing that relationship than they would be going through a technology migration themselves.


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