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Avaya brings context into unified communications

By pushing relevant information and documents to users based on their previous conversations, Avaya hopes to change the way customers think about enterprise communications, says senior exec.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor on

Enterprise communications specialist Avaya is hoping that by adding a context-based, predictive element to its unified communications offerings, it will differentiate its products from its rivals in the competitive market, said a company executive.

According to Francois Lancon, the president of Avaya Asia-Pacific, past conversations between two parties will be captured by a new collaboration platform formed using existing technologies within the company.

Besides having a phone conversation, users can also engage in instant messaging, file sharing and videoconferencing during the "multimodal media conversations" that will boost inter-company collaboration, Lancon pointed out during a face-to-face interview with ZDNet Asia on Thursday.

The content shared during these conversations will be captured and the next time the same users initiate a conversation, relevant documents or data based on past conversation sessions will be automatically pushed to them, he said.

"This is all part of our drive to introduce more 'people-centric' technologies to our customers," the president said.

The collaboration platform, as a whole, is not available on the market yet, but parts of it such as SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) and voice telephony are already available to customer, he said. He added that other parts such as its Avaya Aura Contact Center capabilities were launched in July this year and enhancements to the platform are expected in the next few months.

The introduction of new technologies is one of three drivers that will ensure the company achieves its goal of doubling its business in the region within the next two to three years, he revealed. The other two drivers include investing in its talent pool, particularly its regional sales team, and the "re-growth" of its recently-acquired Nortel business, he added.

Giving an update on the integration of Nortel's Enterprise Solutions Business, Lancon said he is "very pleased" with the investment and how the business group has rebounded, adding that the buy has helped keep the company's growth projection "on track". He was unable to provide figures on Nortel's business, though.

He noted that the company, with its more than 50 offices in Asia-Pacific, gave Avaya the much-needed "critical mass" in the region to pursue a more aggressive growth in the enterprise communications space.

However, the rebound took place a few months after the timeline that Avaya had initially projected, the Asia-Pacific president revealed.

"We were expecting the Nortel business to rebound 3 hours after the acquisition was finalized [on Dec. 18, 2009]. But after two months, there was still no news from our customers, who were all probably waiting to see what we would do with the business," elaborated Lancon.

It was only in March this year that the business "just rebounded", he said. When asked what triggered the rebound, the executive added that customers probably became more "confident" of Avaya's roadmap for its Nortel business.

Additionally, Avaya had been investing heavily in recruiting more sales staff in the region as well as retraining its channel partners, which helped spur improvements in the Nortel business, he added.

The recruitment drive is still ongoing, Lancon noted, saying that he spends 30 to 40 percent of his time at work recruiting new people into the business.

Earlier, the president told ZDNet Asia that its Nortel acquisition will allow it to target small and midsize businesses (SMBs) in Asia. This is a segment the two companies did not have the means to focus on prior to the acquisition. Avaya had previously played heavily in the large enterprise space, particularly in the FSI (financial services industry) and healthcare sectors, an earlier report stated.

Boosted by the acquisition, Avaya's third-quarter Asia-Pacific revenue for its fiscal year grew 52 percent year-on-year, comparing favorably with its global revenue growth rate of 36 percent, Lancon noted.

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