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April 23, 2014

The future of Avaya

The business collaboration firm's president, Garry Veale, plans to target the Premier League.

By Amy-Jo Crowley


How are you planning to develop your growth strategy for 2014?

The first challenge is around cloud, which changes depending if you’re retailer, a bank, an insurance company and so on. But what they all have in common is that they want to deliver and charge people for a service that is consumed faster, cheaper and simpler. In addition, we provide our Scopia Video Conferencing infrastructure and then we have software in the middle that allows companies to manage multiple feeds of Facebook, email, video and other social media sites. There is also a lot of interest around our speech analytics solution, which analyses calls using voice biometrics, and user experience.

Avaya still carries a lot of financial debt as a result of the 2007 private equity buyout by Silver Lake Partners and TGP. How will this affect your strategy?

The most difficult challenge is to get our message out to customers and they’re telling us these are four areas that they’re focusing on to differentiate themselves in their market. So we’re having full conversations in the marketplace around these areas as well as focusing and aligning ourselves more closely to what the customer requirements are and that’s the big part of my job.

Another challenge is to make our customers aware of what they can do with these innovations. And what they have got to do is be creative about how they can deploy this technology to deliver a better mortgage service, to deliver a better relationship with young people today or to deliver a better service about wiring money.

Avaya supplied network capabilities to more than 40,000 Olympic family members for the Winter Olympics in Sochi. What did you do differently from the Vancouver games four years ago?

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At the Winter Olympics in Vancouver before Sochi, you could watch a game or go to an event, but you couldn’t do much else. Now if you were at Sochi, you could check your smartphone, iPad or tablet wherever you were, and during the break of a game, you could stream any of the 36 IPTV channels. So you could be watching live the skiing while you’re sitting and watching the ice hockey. So it’s a different experience and that is what’s also happening in large organisations and small and medium-sized businesses.

Did you experience any security issues?

We learnt that the security we use, the set up we have and our software works. We had no breaches and no downtime, but 100% uptime. And now that we’ve proved to everybody we can do it at Sochi, we are going to go to these Premier League teams and tell them ‘you should be living on another level of service with IPTV’.

I’m definitely going to try and get contracts with them because I go to Premier League games and you can’t do anything with your social media. They don’t have integrated wireless, so if you try and send a tweet or take a photograph on Facebook, it’s almost impossible. Seventy stadiums haven’t started thinking about the customer experience that they could be offering at football games.

Why do you think there is a demand for this particular user experience?

When you look at the demographics of people going to the game, they’re used to social media and getting information instantly. They want to get a better experience and they know they can get it. So if a player scores a goal, users can instantly find out about him, where he came from, how much his transfer [fee] was and what his stats are.

The clubs also have to work out now how they can embrace the technology to deliver a better service if they want supporters to sign up for the supporter’s club or to buy the products in the club’s shop. So there are massive opportunities around this but you need serious wireless technology, you need security and you need creativity.

How do you find competing against the larger companies like Cisco, Genesis and Microsoft?

Although they’re very large and successful companies, their strategy is very broad. We may not do Word, Excel, desktop or Cisco products, but for business communications, we’re the best. Take Microsoft, for example – its core product is Office, so how good do you think they’re going to be on voice? Cisco is also a networking company and is now moving into this communication area, so some of the stuff we’re already doing is very new for them.

We have a heritage of developing this technology, patenting it, a lot of experience around R&D, customer feedback, and workers in the field who can design it, implement it and make it work and service engineer.

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