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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.

Do you have any sense of whether customers are activating soft clients for the same people who they buy hard phones for?

I don't have numbers. I can only tell you anecdotally that I have been in many customer environments and there are many environments where people have the soft phone for their mobile use but they have a hard phone on their desk. Can I think of clients that are soft client only? I can't think of too many. But in the case of the video apps, the RADVISION, there probably are folks that simply have the soft client on that. For the telephony I can't think of too many but on the video side... Part of that is the room is the centralized room and the iPad is the inexpensive aperture into that.

What are your corporate customers clamoring for? What's on their wish list from you?

No.1 I'd say this topic of capex to opex is something that every corporate customer is struggling with and defining in their own terms. I would say bring your own device video or low-bandwidth hi-def video is high on their list to window shop and certainly captures their attention. That being said it's sort of a one-by-one. Some buy very quickly and some take a bit of time. Virtualization is something that is important. Some are ready to, some have already been down that road with other applications, some are right at the forefront and beginning to test. It's less about what works with unified communications as it's been virtualized. It's what is my net benefit in a VMware environment? Is it a one plus one is two and a half or one plus one equals three, and how do I quantify that? Virtualization is an important stepping stone. At the end of the day this is an industry where connectedness on one hand and just enabling people to do things at a far lower price point is seen as very positive. I'll give you just a rough figure of merit. If you have your own company and you have 50 employees and you just want to bring in this RADVISION mobile video to that it's about $8 per month per person for 10 years. That's about $1,000 over a 10-year period. Relative to all the things you buy relative to saving a plane ticket here and there it becomes actually amazingly affordable. And the fact that you can roll it out in days. We rolled out I think 5,500 employees in the first week after we closed the deal. The overhead to deployment is much, much less than you would associate with unified communications. It's really like an app as opposed to a multi-quarter deployment, and from a price perspective, $8 per month. An order of magnitude. The wow factor is gee I have an underutilized asset in my conference room and boy I really think it would be nice to get it out to my employees. The question is how much risk and how much time do they take in a priority way to go deal with it? The more that you can remove the barriers of cost effort to deploy, having it to deploy off of iTunes is a real positive. This is far easier than you might have expected from video of the past. All of a sudden you move people from window shoppers to deployers.


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