Unified communications vendor Avaya will this week enter a pivotal hearing to determine whether or not it can exit Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
A hearing will commence in the US Bankruptcy Court on 28 November, after which Avaya hopes to emerge from Chapter 11 as a public company with a refreshed board of directors.
The question then becomes how Avaya works with resellers.
While Australian Avaya partners are hopeful of a positive next step for the vendor, several told CRN a collaborative channel approach would be key.
Channel partners have already faced a series of executive shifts at the vendor's Australian subsidiary over the past 24 months.
Last year, Avaya appointed Peter Chidiac, its fourth managing director in two years and refreshed its channel team in March this year when it hired Steve Williams as its regional channel chief and Mitch Walkaden as director of midmarket sales, replacing Martin Hatcher who left in May 2016 to join NetApp.
Tony Heywood, former Australian country manager for Avaya partner AGC Networks, said: “Avaya have a great opportunity to now work exclusively with its partner community.
“The past had revenue and cost pressures that have seen them reduce staff numbers and capability, while still having a hybrid channel/direct model. I would like to see Avaya have a 100 percent channel model.
"It is the vendor’s right and responsibility to maintain a ‘high-touch engagement' with large enterprise. This does not necessarily equate to a direct commercial and financial engagement.
"For Avaya to scale to the market, particularly in a market like ANZ, I believe it would be a wise investment for Avaya build a more formidable channel strategy, including an internal remuneration model that allows the enterprise sales team to focus on developing opportunities with the channel, instead of in competition with its own, invested channel."
Eoin Coghlan, commercial director at major Australian Avaya partner CCNA, said his company had followed Avaya’s restructure and were confident with its progress.
“CCNA are pleased with the progress that Avaya made in the restructuring of their business, we supported the restructure and believe it will also assist the Avaya business partner community," he said.
“Avaya Edge Program 2018 has already been outlined to us, whilst we had a few questions the engagement process is pretty clear with specialisations offered for partner engagement at different levels of commitment and in different ways from a services and cloud positioning perspective."
Daniel Danielli, Arrow ECS Australia and New Zealand general manager, sales, told CRN: “Partners have already heavily invested for Avaya to come back swinging. They need to deliver a strong collaboration message to the market that focuses on leveraging new (and old) partnerships, combining resources and expertise for a single customer outcome.”
David McEwen, chief operating officer at Avaya distribution partner VExpress, said the vendor had continued to invest in the channel throughout the Chapter 11 process.
“As Avaya navigated through Chapter 11, VExpress and their A/NZ business was thriving, and so too were its partners.
"Avaya not only continued to build on its existing channel relationships, but was also taking on new partners. Additionally, Avaya has in the last 12 months continued to develop its technology platform,” he said.
“VExpress has seen strong Avaya business results in A/NZ since Avaya Inc entered Chapter 11, including significant agreements with organisations in various verticals, such as government and financial services. Based on those outcomes, market sentiment has been overwhelmingly positive.”
Earlier this month, Avaya also emphasised its commitment to channel partners during its 50th partner conference in France.
“As we prepare to emerge from Chapter 11 proceedings, this event also marks the start of a new journey for Avaya focused on growth and winning, in which our partners play an even bigger role in our go-to-market strategy,” Avaya International vice president of channel Fadi Moubarak said.
“The foundation we are building with our partners will allow us to accelerate our openess, drive greater simplicity and enable innovation within our partner community.”
Avaya’s sales engineering lead for Europe, Steve Joyner, said partners were an essential element in Avaya’s emergence from Chapter 11.
“There are three pillars central to Avaya’s emergence from Chapter 11. We are re-energising our employees and also ensuring that customers remain core to everything we do. But the glue that holds the first two together is the partners,” he said.
The vendor will emerge in a time of change for the unified comms market, one where business communications vendors Mitel and Shoretel have merged in a major power play and contact centre vendor Genesys is actively targeting Avaya and Cisco customers.