Avaya loses Touch following contract dispute

Avaya loses Touch following contract dispute

Avaya has parted company with leading integrator, Touchbase Australia, after the two failed to agree terms on a new contract.

Touchbase managing director, Magnus Maynard, said he received a letter of termination from Avaya on February 28. The integrator had been granted an extension to finish work but was now no longer an Avaya business partner.

"There were a few things within the new contract Avaya asked us to sign that precluded us from providing services to our client base," he said. The sticking point between the two companies - which had been in partnership for five years - rested on a customer support program known as Avaya Partner Support Services (PSS).

Maynard said it was non-negotiable and sought to restrict which customers Avaya partners could service.

He said the vendor informed integrators at its Asia-Pacific partner summit that those who did not sign would be terminated.

Local Avaya boss, Carlton Taya, denied this and refuted suggestions Touchbase had been terminated.

He said PSS was simply a way for Avaya to ensure channel partners could properly handle the implementation of its software.

"We have to ensure our channel is fully accredited," he said. "They can't go into areas they can't properly support."

NSC Group managing director, Craig Neil, said his company had signed the PSS contract.

"It isn't a problem at all. If anything, it secures a tighter relationship with guaranteed service level agreements and access to important tools," he said.

NSC was elevated to Platinum partner status with the vendor earlier this year. It had already signed its annual partner contract back in November.

But Maynard suggested signing PSS would have seen Avaya directly servicing larger Touchbase customers.

"To me, it seems the Avaya strategy is to go direct to the client from a servicing and sales perspective. That is what resellers are supposed to do," he said. "It's a blatant conflict of interest."

Taya said about half of local Avaya business was direct but he defended the vendor's actions.

"Just to be clear, direct growth is coming from markets the channel can't get into like the public sector and large Australian companies," he said. "You never want to lose partners, but we have chosen to penetrate the top end directly. This is a consistent global strategy and we need people to be fully aligned."

Maynard said losing Avaya had seemed disastrous at first. However, Touchbase had since found great support from existing relationships with Cisco and Genesys.

Neil said the ending of Avaya's partnership with Touchbase had shocked him.

"I have a lot of respect for Touchbase and I always feel NSC is at its best when competing against them," he said.

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