Sheila McGee-Smith
Sheila McGee-Smith, who founded McGee-Smith Analytics in 2001, is a leading communications industry analyst and strategic consultant focused on the...
Read Full Bio >>

Sheila McGee-Smith | January 20, 2017 |


Avaya Keeps Crown Jewel, Contact Center

Avaya Keeps Crown Jewel, Contact Center With a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing comes the end of company's gambit to sell off its contact center business for much needed cash.

With a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing comes the end of company's gambit to sell off its contact center business for much needed cash.

For months, speculation has been that Avaya would sell its contact center business in order to pay down debt, leading to a more sustainable capital structure going forward. As part of a recorded video to customers discussing the company's Chapter 11 filing, announced yesterday, Avaya CEO Kevin Kennedy stated that such would not, in fact, be happening. "A sale of the contact center business at this time would not maximize value for our customers and other stakeholders," he said.

The contact center business has been called the "crown jewel" of Avaya by many, including TalkingPointz analyst and No Jitter blogger Dave Michels as recently as August 2016. Avaya's fiscal 2016 results, released yesterday, bear this out. "In constant currency, contact center and networking revenue increased double digit percentages from both the prior quarter and year-over-year, while unified communications products declined year-over-year and grew sequentially."

Karen Hardy, Avaya

To understand better what today's announcements mean for the Avaya contact center business going forward, I spoke to Karen Hardy, Avaya's vice president for customer engagement product management. With all the public hoopla around the announcement, yesterday found Hardy heads-down, conducting a boot camp for partners around Oceana, the company's next-gen contact center application.

One of Hardy's first comments was, "Partners are relieved that the news is out."

One can imagine that Avaya contact center partners do face less uncertainty with the business staying as part of Avaya than they would have with it as a separate entity. Many, though certainly not all, Avaya contact center partners also offer the unified communications solutions and a single, unified Avaya is simpler for them.

Hardy's follow-up comments spoke to what a lower debt load will mean not just to the company, but to her as a product management leader. The promise is of more money "to invest in sales, to invest in technology, and to turn up the marketing machine." Don't expect any of that money to be spent unraveling the contact center and unified communications components from one another. "There are no current plans to split the contact center and UC solutions," Hardy said.

From a selfish perspective, Hardy would like to see Oceana get a nice chunk of those new dollars. Since its general availability in October 2016, Avaya has deployed 50 Oceana proof-of-concepts (POCs) with customers. While Avaya talked about Oceana initially being a premises-based solution, those POCs have all been deployed as single instances from Amazon Web Services. Though no formal announcement has been made, I wouldn't be surprised to see an AWS deployment option for Oceana as early as the second half of 2017.

I also had the opportunity to speak to an Avaya contact center partner today. While he said it would be "Pollyanna to think there won't be challenges," he added that Avaya contact center has "a solid product and a loyal user base." I think the 50 Oceana POCs -- deployed in the midst of the uncertainty of the last quarter -- is a testament to that loyalty.

For now, Avaya contact center business is proceeding as usual. And, as always, Avaya will be part of the Contact Center/Customer Experience track at Enterprise Connect 2017, coming March 27 to 30, in Orlando, Fla. Avaya CTO Laurent Philonenko will be joining the Contact Center Executive Forum, and Mark Castleman, VP of corporate strategy, will be participating in a session on the role of bots, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things in customer care. (If you haven't yet made your plans to attend Enterprise Connect, register now using the code NOJITTER to receive $300 off an Entire Event pass or a free Expo Plus pass.)

Follow Sheila McGee-Smith on Twitter and Google+!
Sheila McGee-Smith on Google+


April 19, 2017

Now more than ever, enterprise contact centers have a unique opportunity to lead the way towards complete, digital transformation. Moving your contact center to the cloud is a starting point, quick

April 5, 2017

Its no secret that the cloud offers significant benefits to enterprises - including cost reduction, scalability, higher efficiency, and more flexibility. If your phone system and contact center are

March 22, 2017

As today's competitive business environments push workforces into overdrive, many enterprises are seeking ways of streamlining workflows while optimizing productivity, business agility, and speed.

April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.