Avaya CEO talks app server, economic opportunities

Avaya CEO talks app server, economic opportunities

Avaya CEO Charles Giancarlo talks unified communications

What changes do you foresee in endpoint software?

Making it more flexible and more responsive more intuitive to end users so they are able to do things they are commonly able to do on their cell phones plus do things that are tightly tied to the way they do their business inside their enterprise environment. The industry has lagged behind the cell phone industry, the consumer industry, in making our devices easy to use, in making them content-rich and in integrating in the types of standard applications like Rolodex, like address book that everybody uses every day.

Two is making it virtually the same software that operates on the phone, on the desktop that can be ported to an applet that exists on top of a cell phone or in a kiosk so that as we update and improve the endpoint software with new features and capabilities that that improvement is able to appear everywhere our customers may have employed a new endpoint or a new system.

Third is opening it up so not only third parties but also customers themselves can easily integrate their enterprise application environments into that Internet telephony, unified communications environment, so they can have their apps on the phone or their apps tightly integrated with a soft client on a PC. As an industry we've set an extraordinarily low bar so there's a great opportunity to improve upon that.

How will you make it simpler for customers to interact with Avaya?

What they should see is more tools from Avaya both on our Web site and available through other methods by which either they or their partners can perform more self service on our products, easier upgrade of software and other capabilities. So I do believe we will make ourselves easier to do business with, easier availability in particular of information about our products. The biggest change customers should see is more information more easily available, more easily findable. Hopefully we'll improve customer satisfaction as well.

You describe the economic downturn as an opportunity. What do you mean by that?

There are two issues. How much does it affect IT if at all and specifically our part of the business? And regardless of that, how does it affect our opportunity to pick up marketshare from weaker competitors? What we saw during the economic downturn in 2001 was that there was a flight to quality, and we believe that Avaya is one of the two financially strong companies in this business. The other would be Cisco. We believe that there will be another flight to quality.

It will be interesting to see whether or how much IT suffers as a result of the economy. There's quite a bit of sentiment out there that it's very possible that IT will not suffer nearly as much as the rest of the economy because of the opportunity of IT to reduce costs of business. With the cost-reduction mode in most businesses it may drive them to increase the amount they spend on IT. (See story about whether the economy could cause IT pros to crack.)

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