Avaya Canada channel chief eyes cloud in Fiscal 2013

Renzo DiPasquale

Avaya Canada channel chief Renzo DiPasquale

With Avaya wrapping up its Fiscal 2012 on September 30 and heading into Fiscal 2013, I had the chance to catch up with Avaya Canada channel chief Renzo DiPasquale on the company’s performance in 2012 and what he’s expecting and looking to in 2013.

The company is approximately three years into its Avaya Connect overarching channel program, and the move towards the channel appears to be paying dividends. DiPasquale said that the fastest-growing part of the company’s business in Canada was the portion that went through the top channel partners, and that the company’s measures of partner satisfaction have improved – both VARs’ overall satisfaction with the networking company, and their happiness with their specific channel account managers.

That latter change, suggested DiPasquale, was the result of a significant shift in how it manages its partners.

“Last year, we deemed it the return of the selling CAM, really becoming a partner’s business advisor, building a joint go-to-market plan and really leveraging all the MDF resources available,” he said. “That whole enablement piece was key in terms of growing customer satisfaction. It’s not completed yet, but we’re on the right track.”

The latter part of the year since my last discussion with DiPasquale also saw some significant developments – the launch of IP Office 8.1, and the completion of its acquisition of Radvision.

DiPasquale said that about 15 per cent more partners today are selling IPOffice, and revenues are up, not surprising with a new release that greatly expands the audience for the telephony solution up to the 1,000-seat range.

“This release is really more bang for your buck – more features, more mobility, more management, more scale,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for our partners to add the midmarket into their portfolios.”

The Radvision acquisition has yet to fully take hold, but DiPasquale expects it to be a big deal in the now-current fiscal. The company has completed “phase one,” giving access to the company’s products to a few select partners, and expects to roll out “phase two,” extending the network to about a dozen more partners, by the end of this month. “Phase three” – or broad availability of the former Radvision video networking products to the Avaya Connect community – is a priority for the current year.

“”We see it as great for an entry-level system, all the way up to the enterprise, from the iPhone to the dedicated conference room,” DiPasquale said. “And we see it as a play across a breadth of partners over the next six months or so.”

The channel chief said the company is also eyeing bringing the cloud solutions offered in the U.S. and other markets to market in Canada this year. Both the company’s Avaya Live Connect and Engage (hosted IP Telephony and collaboration, respectively) could be coming to Canada – and to the company’s Canadian channel partners – sooner than later, DiPasquale suggested.

“We’re exploring those and how to host those in the partner ecosystem,” he said.

Meanwhile, channel enablement will continue to be the theme for its channel operations team. DiPasquale said he’s putting together a team that’s focusing on helping partners with new products and new services, speeding their time to market. That team will see a channel enablement leader working with the company’s CAMs to make sure partners are educated and incented to bring the company’s new solutions to market – both a way of increasing partner business and satisfaction, and encouraging more of its partners to cross-sell Avaya products across its stack.

Avaya is getting the year off to a quick start, bringing together executives from its top partners across North America for an executive partner conference in Cancun, Mexico in mid-November. DiPasquale said that he expected between 40 and 50 Canadian partner executives to be in attendance.

And with the events being a few weeks later in the year than last year’s partner conference in Cancun, odds are much better that partners won’t have to bug out early to avoid an impending, a very real threat that threatened last year’s event and led to many early departures, but ultimately proved to be a non-factor.