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Avaya sees gold in call center, WLAN

Frost and Sullivan recently awarded Avaya for leadership in call center and WLAN solutions. The solutions vendor believes that is an indication that drivers for IT spending are still strong even in these ecnomic hard times.
Written by Thomas Chen, Contributor
SINGAPORE--Avaya is tops in the call center and wireless local area network (WLAN) solutions markets in Asia Pacific, according to Frost & Sullivan.

The research organization this week presented two Marketing Engineering Leadership Awards to the solutions provider in recognition of that.

According to Frost & Sullivan, Avaya dominates the Asia Pacific call center market with a share of 18 percent, double that of its closest competitor, Nortel.

Avaya's share in the WLAN market is even larger, accounting for 28 percent of the total market value. However, its lead over its closest rival is narrower: Runner-up Meclco has a 27 percent share.

The awards come at an especially grim time for the industry, which has seen many technology firms incurring losses and implementing drastic cutbacks.

Avaya has not been left unscathed. The company came off this year's second quarter ended March 31 with a disappointing loss of US$64 million. However, it managed to scale back in the latest quarter ended June 30, registering a profit of US$24 million.

Despite the economic slowdown, however, both Frost & Sullivan and Avaya representatives are upbeat about the growth of the call center and WLAN technology markets for the remainder of the year.

According to the research firm, the market for call center applications will grow by 10-12 percent this year alone. It predicts that market revenue for the region will grow to US$1.6 billion by 2007, up from US$655 million last year.

The WLAN market will experience the same kind of growth as well, only faster, as the technology is relatively new and has greater market potential. Revenue for this sector is expected to grow by 29.7 percent year-on-year from US$142.7 million last year to around US$500 million by 2007.

"Markets are fast reaching maturity in terms of the number of new customers they can acquire. In this new business environment, focus has shifted to retaining your customers," said Frost & Sullivan's Asia Pacific director Manoj Menon. "And that is what's fueling the demand for a lot of our applications and services."

According to Daniel McConaghy, Avaya's regional chief operating officer, 10-15 percent in revenue is about the size of the growth the company would expect from its call center division this year.

Call center technology has under the spotlight of late because of the changing role of call centers. According to analysts, today's call centers are fast becoming high-tech, multichannel customer contact hubs. Solutions that promise to integrate disparate channels--from mail, email, fax, phone, Web site to VOIP--are much sought after by corporate customers.

Avaya has long positioned itself as providing just the solution for integrating multiple channels and media. The role of the company remains squarely in the area of delivering "communication technology" that integrates different parts of a communication framework into a cohesive whole. For front-end applications, the company partners closely with Siebel to deliver an end-to-end solution.

WLAN, which has found initial acceptance by corporations only last year, will be driven by very different growth factors. According to Frost & Sullivan analyst Moaiyad Taher Hoosenally, the chief elements favoring the development of WLAN will be the flexibility it offers to corporate employees and its relatively lower cost of deployment, rather than its wired networks.

Avaya's role in the WLAN arena is less clear, although the company claims to have been one of the first players in the market.

"There is no doubt that call center solutions has been, and will remain, the chief core of our business," said McConaghy. "We're relatively new to the WLAN market but because it's such a new technology, there is tremendous potential for growth."

He expects a 25-30 percent growth for Avaya's WLAN business in the Asia Pacific region.

According to McConaghy, the growth in these two areas is testimony to the need for businesses to stay competitive even in bad times.

"What this says is that companies today are smart enough in talking to their customers and investing heavily in the areas of improving productivity and improving customer relations, even during this economic downturn" he said. "For smart companies, in fact, this is the time to invest so that they will be in a better position viz-a-viz their competitors when they emerge from this difficult time."

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