CW: What about time-to-market and long sales cycles, which create roadblocks to UC deployments?
Barnett: Customers are demanding features and functionalities at a more rapid pace alongside emerging trends like cloud computing and BYOD. In the first half of our fiscal, we launched 50 new products which were in line with the demands of our customers. The concept of feature packs by Avaya is unique in the industry. With Aura in the UC space, enterprises can take base installations and add functionalities through feature packs. For customers, this represents a low risk option and has increased customer appetite.
CW: The Gartner Magic Quadrant 2012 for UC puts Avaya as a market leader with Microsoft, Cisco, and Siemens. What will continue to keep you ahead?
Barnett: What's interesting is that we will continue to do well in UC because we do well in the contact center space. Organizations no longer see both as completely different technologies. My belief is that if you can't be strong in the CC space, you can't be strong in UC, and vice-versa. We have a robust product portfolio but what will keep us in the Magic Quadrant is our investments in R&D and a zeal for innovation. Also, we focus on customer needs. For example, when we unveiled the Avaya Outbound Contact Express we demonstrated a highly innovative and unique product that integrates speech analytics technology into the base product.
CW: Is Microsoft's UC system, Lync, becoming a big threat? Lync has been widely used for IM and presence.
Barnett: Lync has been widely used for IM and presence. Companies deploy it for a point-to-point audio. But there is a difference between that and truly running an enterprise-class product. Our brand stands for industrial strength that companies can depend on to run their operations reliably and securely. We don't believe companies run on IM alone. Companies might work with Lync for IM and presence, but Avaya is the clear winner in voice and video. But that does not dismiss Lync as a competitor.
CW: What about big vendors like HP, IBM, and Dell? Aren't they competition too?
Barnett: No. In fact, they have provided us with great opportunities by seeing us as the gold standard in communications and collaboration. We are not at odds with them and our domain expertise makes us an ideal partner. We are not just a phone company anymore, but a vendor with networking, CC solutions, and a complete UC stack.
CW: Finally, are you building an army of channel partners for UC?
Barnett: Many partners understand that a full stack of Avaya solutions gives them competitive advantage. My belief is that high-value channel partners will offer a full stack and that will be their differentiator. Customers don't want to put complex solutions, as in the past, which meant high risk factor and a long deployment period. We see channels moving to the end of the spectrum where there are high-value solution providers who will register a profitable and long-standing business growth.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.