Avaya launches Avaya Cloud Office in Canada with agent-focused strategy

Avaya Canada took advantage of the 90 days since the initial launch of Avaya Cloud Office in the U.S. to get what for them is a new Go-to-Market model in place, and also benefit from some tweaks to the solution.

Miles Davis, VP, Channel Sales, Avaya Canada

Today, Avaya is expanding the reach of their Avaya Cloud Office UCaaS offering created through their partnership with RingCentral. Ninety days after the initial launch in the U.S., Avaya Cloud Office is launching in three new markets – Canada, Australia and the UK. While Avaya’s past Powered by IP Office was sold through their traditional channel, the focus here is on Avaya’s relatively new Master-Agent channel.

“This makes sense for Canada because Avaya Cloud Office is such an agent-focused route to market,” said Miles Davis, VP, Channel Sales, Avaya Canada, who runs both the Avaya Cloud Office business and channels in Canada. “IP Office partners in Canada really don’t delineate between the two, unlike larger markets like the U.S. and the U.K., where they really are two different practices. I have five people looking after our Diamond Sapphire and Emerald partners, and have taken four people and focused them on Avaya Cloud Office. They are often working with the same people but from an Avaya Cloud Office perspective.”

Davis said that Avaya Canada has taken advantage of the earlier launch in the U.S. to both get ready and to fine-tune the offering

“I feel quite fortunate in being second here, as we let the kinks get ironed out in the U.S.,” he said. “We’ve really fine-tuned our channel for Avaya Cloud Office in those 90 days. It shares the same UC DNA that we had before, but the  capabilities are leapfrogged ahead from the past. One of our biggest challenges with our traditional partner base has been this move from on-prem to software and  services in the last 2-3 years, and it has accelerated by the agreement with RingCentral. It has meant that partners have needed a knowledge transfer in going through this massive transition.”

Since, the US launch, Avaya has added some new tools which will be available at the Canadian launch. Support for Avaya endpoint devices has been expanded, including conference room support. Other tools have been introduced to facilitate the transition of customers from on-prem Avaya platforms to Avaya Cloud Office. Additional features like Call Park and Page allow customers to transition from existing Avaya platforms without the need to change processes.

“In the last 90 days, we have got in with our key partners to make sure they understand the tools,” Davis said. “We had to help them retool as they moved from the private cloud ‘Powered By,’ to the public cloud Avaya Cloud Office.”

The pandemic has assisted this transition in some ways, Davis noted.

“I think that the pandemic’s impact has showcased the importance of public cloud in bringing all of the applications under the same umbrella as essential,” he said. “You really need to bring it all under the same pane of glass. In addition, because their customers have been in such disarray in the last 90 days, partners have been challenged getting things to integrate in a short period of time, especially because customers tend to change their requirements up and down quickly. That has helped us showcase the advantages of Avaya Cloud Office.”

The marketing gear-up started even before the U.S. launch, after the announcement between RingCentral and Avaya was made last fall.

“We were able to offer the RingCentral platform right away, and because this announcement was such a big investment at the financial level, resources were dedicated early on the process and we were able to start dedicating headcount solely from this,” Davis indicated. “We worked with people who were Ring Central-badged and paid solely on Avaya Cloud Office. That encouraged me to dedicate 3-4 of my people to this as well.”

Building the Master Agent model took some time.

“Signing up master agents doesn’t happen in weeks – it happens in months,” Davis said. “We did start where we know we have great relationships, and in Canada that meant our distributors Ingram Micro, Tech Data and Syynex/Westcon, and we brought them to the Master Agent category as well. With the 90 days headstart from the U.S. launch, we have been able to leverage conversations with true master agents, and we signed up Telarus for Canada.”

The agency model represents a major shift, based on changes in the market.

“The basic tenets of listening to the customer haven’t changed, but what we have had to do is re-evaluate the concept of partner value, which has shifted over time from being how many trucks you could roll,” Davis said. “That shift has happened over the past three years and we have seen a big uplift in the last year.”

Partner value is also very different in this model.

“The old partner adage of mystery brings margin is still true, but mystery is now in integration, not setting up,” Davis stated. “Customer demand is now predicated on a desire for business experience to mirror consumer experience, where things can be set up in five minutes. In the agency model, while we still have certifications for integration, the real stickiness is in the integration with other lines of business and other lines of business used by that partner, like Salesforce. Partners need to be able to shift the conversation into how communications enables other areas of the business, which is different by business.”