Avaya's promise: 100 per cent channel

Avaya's promise: 100 per cent channel

Avaya has embarked on a radical channel strategy which will see it trade not only goodwill, but 40 of its own staff with newly appointed Platinum partners Unisys and UK-based systems integrator Touchbase.

In a dramatic turnaround from 12 months ago - since it split from parent company Lucent Technologies - Avaya has pledged a 100 per cent channel model for the South Pacific region under a new go-to-market program, dubbed Direct Touch.

The program will see Avaya opt for joint ownership of key customer accounts traditionally dealt with directly.

Steven Weeks, Avaya South Pacific's managing director, claimed the move signifies Avaya's commitment to servicing the market through business partners. Up until now, around 40 per cent of Avaya's business had been through indirect channels, up from 20 per cent 18 months ago.

"What we're talking about is transferring our direct business through the channel," Weeks said. The benefits of this new model include broader customer reach, additional skill sets, knowledge, experience and resources, he added.

Signalling its commitment to the new channel-only approach, Avaya will transfer all of its direct business in Canberra to convergence integrator NSC. While Weeks would not be drawn as to whether this includes Avaya's government contracts, he did say the Direct Touch strategy would be used to leverage the relationships Avaya's partners have with state and federal governments.

The partnership also heralds Touchbase's entrance into the Australian market. The company has been operating in Australia for seven months, with around 12 staff servicing its existing global and European customers that have offices in Australia.

"This relationship is a catalyst for investing significantly in the Asia-Pacific market," said Riordan Maynard, founding partner of Touchbase. "If successful, we'll cover the entire Asia-Pacific region with the same agreements."

Unisys and Touchbase have invested considerably in people, skills and pre-sales to become Avaya's first Platinum partners in Australia, but both were keeping their intended return on investment close to their chests.

"The agreement has definite revenue and profit opportunities," was all Ron Frankenfield, vice president and general manager of Unisys South Pacific, was willing to divulge.

In addition, Frankenfield said the company will be setting up an Avaya practice within Unisys. It is unknown at this stage how many of the 40 Avaya staff will be transferring to Unisys and how many will go to Touchbase.

Weeks rejected claims that passing on Avaya staff was a cost-cutting measure, instead describing the move as a way to ensure its Platinum partners had skilled staff in Avaya products from the onset of the partnership. Weeks hastened to add that there will be no staff cuts at Avaya, Unisys or Touchbase as a result of the new partnership.

Weeks said the Platinum tier and Direct Touch initiatives will not affect its current BusinessPartner program.

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