Avaya’s CEO emphasizes company has fundamentally transformed around embracing change and customer centrality

Jim Chirico kicked off Avaya’s Engage event in Austin by updating the company’s progress, and stressing that the company has reoriented its approach to the market and their customers.

Avaya CEO Jim Chirico onstage at Avaya Engage

AUSTIN – Last year, at Avaya, Jim Chirico, an Avaya veteran but at his first Engage as CEO, strongly emphasized that Avaya was on the right track, returning from their Chapter 11 bankruptcy and embarking on an aggressive growth strategy, rather than playing a prevent defense. This year, he emphasized how the company has reoriented itself, becoming much more attuned to its customers than before, and pledging that the company will continue to embrace a strategy of change.

“We have made and are making tremendous progress across multiple dimensions of the company,” Chirico told the nearly 2,500 attendees at this year’s event. “Transformations are not tasks. They are hard. We are now 12-18 months in. We have engineered a significant turnaround in just one year, but we have more to do. I believe we have the right strategy and are on the right path. We have the best ecosystem in the industry. We have the best partners. We have the best technology alliances. We have an incredible customer base and an amazing Avaya team to support all of you. Our brand today, our technology have never been stronger. We need to make sure that we embrace change to transform.”

Chirico stressed that Avaya today understands the need to wholeheartedly embrace change, something that had not been the case in the past.

“Change is inevitable,” he stressed. “At Avaya, we consistently pursue and encourage it. In today’s world, it’s all about disrupting the status quo. In our industry today, we’ve never been in a period where change is more persistent and prevalent. We are on the verge of a new era, with endless possibilities and endless opportunities.”

In that environment, Chirico said that Avaya had had a very good year.

“2018 was a very successful year for the company,” he said. “We are focused on improving the trajectory of our business. We are much more consistent than we have ever been. We are focused on execution. We had a simple formula. We wanted to get back to basics. We wanted to focus on simplicity and not boil the ocean.”

Chirico told the customer audience that Avaya is focusing on three key messages at this year’s Engage Event.

“First is being a customer-led company in everything we do,” he said. “When you make decisions, you should make them as close to your objective as possible. The chances of success are better the closer you are. Previously, Avaya was too far away from our customers and our partners. Many times we missed the mark. We weren’t customer-led. We had a mentality – you can call it entitlement – that was more focused on building in the old economy. I’ve heard from all of you. You told me we needed to change. So we revamped our sales coverage models. We added new services capabilities. We created a new Incubation Centre to focus on a new generation of products. The bottom line is we finally moved you to your rightful place. That’s the centre of our R&D thinking and go-to-market motion. We are better in our innovation, productivity, competitiveness and resilience. Those are traits of a customer-led company.”

The second thing is simplicity, Chirico emphasized.

“Avaya had been and still in some instances is still very difficult to work with,” he acknowledged. “We have simplified our portfolio and our branding and our product names. Avaya IX is our new naming. Complexity is the enemy of execution.”

The third focus is the salience of convergence, which continues to be a significant industry trend.

“We are leading the industry in the convergence of UC [Unified Communications], CC [Contact Centre] and collaboration, regardless of channel, location or geography,” he said

Chirico then laid out four key Avaya priorities for 2019.

“We will continue our investment in our core,” he stressed. “We are proud of our install base. “We are not apologizing for that, even as everyone moves to the shiny object of cloud. Our core UC  and CC solutions remain massively important to all of you. They will be leveraged to the new technologies that we are developing, in a seamless open platform architecture, and with key partners like Salesforce, Verint, Afiniti and IBM.

“Second, we will deliver new technologies,” Chirico said. “We are not just talking about when, if and how. We have products today in AI mobility that are generating revenue. Those revenues are still small but their growth rates are significant. Our expectation is that those growth rates will continue. It’s all about revolutionizing the way you do business, improving contact centre productivity, and providing insights that improve ease of use for your customers. We will remain on the forefront of the next major moves, like omnichannel for mobility and identity-as-a-service.”

Thirdly, Chirico said Avaya will add breadth and depth in cloud solutions.

“Today we are announcing the new Avaya OneCloud ReadyNow cloud platform,” he stated. “It’s unique, as far as I know. it’s the only one in the marketplace focused on security scalability and reliability.”

Fourth, Chirico emphasized Avaya’s services capabilities.

“More than ever, services play a critical role,” he said. “We will help you transition to cloud when you are ready. We will help you identify how you can use new and emerging technologies. We have unparalleled private cloud capabilities. No one is even close. No one else can deliver  a 50,000 seat contact centre, or a 100,000 seat private cloud, or can operate within 175 countries around the world.”

Chirico also emphasized Avaya’s partners’ role in this.

“The 4700 partners that we have are a force multiplier,” he said. “They are an extension and a part of the Avaya family. When we go to market with our partners, each and every time we win.”