Avaya expands ReadyNow’s global footprint, AI capabilities with IBM partnership

Avaya sees the synergy between the two companies and IBM’s consultancy capabilities as important assets in meeting the unexpectedly high demand for ReadyNow as-a-service from larger customers.

Chris McGugan, SVP, Solutions and Technology, Avaya

Avaya Holdings and IBM have announced a new relationship around the Avaya ReadyNow, their private cloud delivery model for unified communications and contact centre as-a-service that they introduced last January at the Avaya Engage customer event. Avaya’s integration with IBM’s hybrid cloud solutions, including the Watson AI, both expand their capabilities and extend their global footprint.

For Avaya, that extension of their global presence through IBM is a significant asset.

“IBM really gives us the ability to expand the offer to a global footprint,” said Chris McGugan, SVP, Solutions and Technology, Avaya. “We were already strong in domestic markets and parts of Europe. This makes it a global offer. IBMs IaaS platform lets us address data sovereignty laws in different markets. With our software, and their massive global footprint, the two of us together have the ability to meet the massive demand we are seeing.”

McGugan said that since ReadyNow launched, the big surprise has been its early acceptance by very large customers.

“Our initial expectations have been blown away by the receptiveness and demand there,” he indicated. “I was expecting high SMB-low enterprise seat counts to be the first to move over, with clients coming in with 3000-4000 seats, but some of the first few customers had hundreds of thousands of seats. The majority of customers who are migrating to this are more custom, and are really receptive to what it provides. The pent-up demand and the size of the revenue opportunities are enormous.”

As an example, McGugan noted one client in the US that is a large franchise organization which now includes the ReadyNow UC as part of their franchise bundle.

“Every franchise is moving over to provide a common user experience,” he said.

McGugan also stressed that IBM’s consultancy capabilities also provide a net-new capability for Avaya which will help them deal with customer digital transformation issues.

“IBM has transformed as a company and changed their Go-to-Market model, but they have always had a seat at the table in the C suite,” he said. The IBM sales organization can now offer this and can bundle in their consultancy services. That’s important because most enterprises struggle with digital transformation. They fumble getting from A to B. IBM has been doing that practice model for decades. So this creates a unique Go-to-Market strategy that goes unmatched.”

Apart from a relationship with Verint around Workforce Engagement Management for the Cloud announced back at Engage, this is Avaya’s first publicly-announced partnership around ReadyNow. McGugan noted that IBM was strategically chosen ahead of the three big hyperscale platform for specific reasons.

“When you look at the myriad of compute providers, I could have gone with an Azure or an AWS,” he said. “But two things made IBM unique. One is the ability to leverage their IaaS platform without having to refactor mine. With the others, I would have had to make changes to my automation layer. We don’t have to rely on their underlying layer with their specific requirements. IBM has a private address space that freed us from that.

A second major advantage is the ability to leverage IBM’s Watson AI.

“We’ve been talking about AI for a long time. It allows Watson to be deployed directly on top of ReadyNow. That was compelling in choosing them as a partner. There was a lot of synergy.”

McGugan said there will also be a lot of channel synergy with this relationship.

“IBM’s partners and ours are very different, because IBM exited the data market in 1996,” he stated. “This opens us up to an existing channel base we haven’t tapped into. For our partners, this expands the ability to meet their customers’ needs. If you have a multinational customer, but can only serve them locally in a region, now a global cloud-based UCC is at your fingertips with this. It elevates the channel partner to offer a global solution they couldn’t before.”

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